All Our Yesterdays

Robert B. Parker, Author
Robert B. Parker, Author Delacorte Press $22.95 (401p) ISBN 978-0-385-30437-5
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994
Release date: 10/01/1994
Spenser doesn't appear in this overwrought, Boston-set saga of three generations of Irish-American cops, but the spirit of Parker's popular PI dominates these pages nonetheless, with each cop in turn obsessed with courage, codes of behavior and, especially, A Woman. These are the themes of Parker's other non-Spenser novels as well, particularly Love and Glory, but here they're explored in a tale whose scaffolding of parallels and coincidences suspends disbelief as poorly as do the characters' operatic passions. The Sheridan patriarch, Conn, for example, having been betrayed in Ireland during ``the troubles'' by the love of his life, one Hadley Winslow, moves to the U.S. with a heart of stone: ``It was so hard to stop caring about her,'' he tells a fellow cop, ``that I had to stop caring about everything.'' That is, until Conn catches the case of a young girl found slain and molested, discovers that Hadley's son is the culprit and uses that information to blackmail Hadley into a longterm sexual liaison in exchange for burying the proof against her son. If ever a set of characters needed Prozac it's these Sheridans, whose sullen, brutal, unlikely dance with the Winslow women continues until the third-generation Sheridan, with help from his father, breaks the spell after a paroxysm of violence. All this pained macho posturing is shaped by Parker's usual elegant and precise prose, perhaps the cleanest in crimedom; but, finally no turn of phrase is quick enough to keep his somber tale from sinking into fatal self-importance. BOMC and QPB selections; major ad/promo. (Nov.)
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