Thin Air

Robert B. Parker, Author
Robert B. Parker, Author Putnam $21.95 (293p) ISBN 978-0-399-14020-4
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In the famed Boston PI's 22nd case, an oddly sympathetic villain and a resolute heroine draw Spenser into a barrio enclave in a depressed Massachusetts factory town. Readers know that Lisa St. Clair, a radio deejay newly married to a Boston police detective, has been kidnapped and imprisoned in a Proctor, Mass. tenement by Rico, her former lover. The cop, who knows only that his wife has disappeared, is shot and seriously injured just after he asks Spenser to investigate. Chapters alternate between the room where Lisa is kept under guard and constantly running video cameras and Spenser's gradual assembling of clues. The PI discovers Lisa's former name and occupation; he thinks up a way to penetrate Proctor's divided and desperate Hispanic community, ruled by Rico and a rival. Lots of atmosphere and even suspense--Will Lisa resist Rico's demands? Can Spenser discover a way to rescue her?--are built up in short sentences and one-line paragraphs. Spenser's pal Hawk is away (his place taken briefly by the sharp L.A. crook, Chollo), and his lover, Susan, and dog Pearl are kept mostly backstage during a slightly stretched out story that, nevertheless, packs a lot of punch. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild alternate. (May)
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