Small Vices (Spenser, #24)

ISBN: 0425162486
ISBN 13: 9780425162484
By: Robert B. Parker

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Crime Default Detective Fiction Mysteries Mystery Robert B Parker Spenser Suspense To Read

About this book

Ellis Alves is no angel. But his lawyer says he was framed for the murder of college student Melissa Henderson...and asks Spenser for help. From Boston's back streets to Manhattan's elite, Spenser and Hawk search for suspects, including Melissa's rich-kid, tennis-star boyfriend. But when a man with a .22 puts Spenser in a coma, the hope for justice may die with him...

Reader's Thoughts


I've never read a Robert Parker novel before, I really enjoyed this one. A very straight forward read with lots of plot twists. A thrilling read and I definitely will be reading another Robert Parker novel.

Steven Belanger

Read this one already, as I have every Parker book, but I read something about The Grey Man, so I thought I'd give this another shot. Better than I remembered, but not one of his best. The time passing seems oddly handled, and you would think Rugar would find him immediately again once he got his apartment back. Fairly long for Spenser/Parker, but everything good about the series is evident here. All minor characters from the series make an appearance here. Overall, very good and, as usual, addictive reading.

Cathy Cusson

Love the depth of Hawk's friendship. He goes above and beyond helping Spenser recuperate.

Tim Healy

I'm back to Spenser after a long layoff. Eventually, I may even finish the series.This one's good. The story is interesting because the case isn't really a sympathetic cause. Once he's committed to it, though, Spenser won't give it up. The gang's all here for this one, too. It's not just Hawk, Susan, and Pearl. We have also: Healy, Quirk (who's been promoted to Captain), Belsen, Farrell, Vinnie, Gino Fish, Paul Giacomin, Henry Cimoli, Patricia Utley, and her butler Steven. Parker was apparently feeling good about it, too, 'cause there are lots of quotes from Eliot. He even invented a word. I know, because I tried to look it up to find what it means. It's not in any of the online dictionaries I use. I found it by tracking fan commentary on the book. The word: contumescent. Go!With Parker, it's always the character interactions and dialogue that make the books work. The interactions between Hawk and Spenser are worth the price of admission. Best line of the book goes to Henry Cimoli, though. I'll leave you to find it.If you like Parker, this is a good read.


90 out of 100 for 2010This may be my favorite of the entire Spenser series. By the mid-Ninties, he had grown a bit predictale, not stale but not fresh. In the early novels, Spenser was vulnerable--tough, lost fights, and, except for the fact that it was series fiction, his fate was in doubt--you knew Spenser could lose, and his vulnerability made him more interesting. By the Nineties, he'd grown invulnerable, and, p'raps, a bit less inteesting.Then came 'Small Vices.' Spenser loses, and nearly dies; he does NOT win in a final shoot out (doesn't actually kill anyone, either), an the murder that started the case proves not to be a murder.All the great stuff you expect in a Spenser, along with a genuinely interesting plot.

Syd Perry

My lower rating is based on format more than the book itself. I listened to this book on CD in the car.Issue 1 -- Narrator. I've listened to 2 Spenser books narrated by Joe Mantegna and I absolutely love Joe as Spenser. Small Vices was read by Burt Reynolds. Burt has a beautiful, deep, rich, smooth voice...but he's not Joe and therefore not Spencer. And it seems that his deep melted chocolate range is where I have hearing loss. There were parts that sounded like a bass melody with no words. When his voice changed to a female range, no problem. I admire audio book readers who have distinct voices for different characters and always use the right voice when that character speaks. Burt was alwys spot on. But so was Joe. Request: In a series, stick with the same reader, especially when the book is written in first person. (Bonus: Harry Potter on audio is a great experience. Jim Dale is the most amazing audio book reader and did ALL the Harry Potter books.)Issue 2 -- Bad Language. I'm not a fan of the F word or the array of other less than pristine language. It grates on my nerves when it is used profusely. Perhaps it wouldn't be so offensive in written form when your eyes can skim over those words. But on audio, they hit your ears with equal force every time. Another drawback, I couldn't listen to this story with my grandson in the car.Issue 3 -- What's with the music between chapters? Every single chapter ends and the next one begins with wind chimes, a drum solo, flute music, jazz piano... something to mark the changing chapters. But why? It just makes me think it's time to change CDs. And it breaks the flow of the story. Unnecessary and distracting.The story itself was really good. The characters Spenser, Susan and Hawke are among the best. I like their never failing loyalty and their super-human qualities.


SMALL VICES - ExParker, Robert - 24th in Spencer seriesEllis Alves is no angel. But his lawyer says he was framed for the murder of college student Melissa Henderson...and asks Spenser for help.From Boston's back streets to Manhattan's elite, Spenser and Hawk search for suspects, including Melissa's rich-kid, tennis-star boyfriend. But when a man with a .22 puts Spenser in a coma, the hope for justice may die with him.Parker is a master. Character, sense of place, dialogue; no one does them better. I can always count on him for a great read!


Spenser investigates when a doubtful DA feels guilty about serial lowlife she helped convict of gruesome murder.


Reminiscent of Philip Marlowe, Spenser beats death to get (both) his men!Advance the clock forty years from Chandler's Philip Marlowe series, and voila, we have Spenser! (Actually Parker is an admitted Chandler fan and even finished one of his books {"Poodle Springs"} for him and authored a sequel of Chandler's first novel, "The Big Sleep.") Like Marlowe, Spenser's tough-guy, private-eye work is his definition, and without it, he is nothing - a lesson that alternatively threatens then rejuvenates his relationship with lover Susan. This was our first Spenser story, so we have no background on the characters nor does "Vices" offer much. But the plot sizzled, the relationship with Susan provided interesting byplay, and in the end, things worked out in a satisfying fashion, with the exception of the man freed from jail, who was a total ingrate. The premise is that an innocent man was framed for a co-ed's murder, and a law firm hires Spenser to double check the outcome some four years later. That all the witnesses are lying, and that Spenser starts to get pushed around for his snooping, makes it seem likely right off the bat that something is awry. When a mysterious contract killer, the "Grey Man", nearly offs our hero, Susan, Hawk, and Spenser take a year in hiding to rehab (probably the least plausible portion of the story in terms of careers, money, etc.). Spenser then turns the tables by hunting the Grey Man while continuing to work the original crime to an entertaining conclusion. Suspense builds all the way to the end, keeping those pages turning briskly! We can see why Spenser and Parker enjoy considerable success. The writing is fine, the plot amuses, and some stuff on the side provides a thought provoking moment or two. Our only quibble is that we didn't particularly care for how the women in the book threw themselves at our leading man; while allegedly he's a "hunk", women tossing their clothes or thrusting their assets at him so readily seemed unseemly, though possibly that was a ploy to prove his fidelity to Susan. All-in-all, a good mystery -- good enough to encourage us to seek out more of Parker's lengthy bibliography.

John Rogers

When I started writing, it was made clear that there is 'literary fiction', aka good writing, aka serious writing; then there is commercial fiction, such as mystery. The implication was that you don't see really good writing in commercial fiction.Since then, I've read a lot of commercial fiction that supports that notion. Robert Parker blows that notion out of the water. Small Vices is a good story. Not a spectacular or complex plot. No Aha moment. But the spinning out of the story is masterful, the characterization fascinating and the music in the words outstanding.Fortunately, since I started with #24, I have a lot of enjoyment ahead!

Ted Mallory

I won't go so far as to say that this was the all time best Spenser novel, but it may just be the quintessential Spenser novel- the best for readers who are already Spenser fans, chock full of just about every reoccurring character who's ever appeared in the series. A little like Jimmy Stewart in 'It's a Wonderful Life,' ol Spense finds out how many friends really care about him and how much when a high priced hit man puts him in a comma. They're talking about making one of the books into a movie or reviving a TV series based on these books. My wife thinks Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson could play Spenser. It took me a while but I'm warming up to the idea. He's the right size and funny enough. Thing is, there will never be another Hawk besides Avery Brooks, who played him in the 80's TV show.


** spoiler alert ** This was kind of fun, maybe not too memorable, first appearance of the gray man, not sure if there will be more of them. I reads easy and it flows pretty nice.

Cathy Spencer

OK, I'm a Robert B. Parker fan. I've read them all. And I admire R.B.'s stamina and longevity with the series. I'll miss not having anymore of his books to read - he passed away this year.Of the 3 characters in his series, Spenser is my favourite, and Small Vices is my favourite of the Spensers. Spenser is good, but he gets shot by the "grey man" and has to rehabilitate himself outside of Boston with his lady love and his long-time friend, Hawk. The description of his rehabilitation is inspiring, and the rematch between himself and the man who put him in the hospital is exciting. I love Spenser's humour - he's a wise-guy and he knows it. He likes to take the starch out of the pretentious, but he's not cruel. He's generous. He's also an old-fashioned maverick who operates by his own code of ethics and doesn't overthink his motives, which I find refreshing in this day and age. And what I find truly admirable about Spenser is his love and commitment to his lady. He knows she's not perfect and damn if the two of them can live together, but nothing, not even his code of ethics, would stop him from helping her if she needed him.To be truthful, I find the older books better written than the latest ones, but I still recommend the whole series. Enjoy.


spenseri actualy bought this paperback at Bookman's in Flagstaff right before getting on the plane back to LAX>good read about the grey man.January 2011 book on tape with BURT REYNOLDs, a personal friend of robert parker.i'm one of the few who really like reynolds reading of this least four starsSpenser as we have never seen him before: near death, having taken three bullets from a hired assassin. Most men would give up, but who ever said that Spenser was like most men?Spenser embarks on the long, hard road of rehabilitation with his friend, Hawk, and his lover, Susan, by his side.


** spoiler alert ** I can't believe I have to read this book for a book club. What could there possibly be to discuss in a pulpy novel like this one, cranked out by the author along with 50 others? I'm laughing just writing that. (And how can I avoid thinking of Robert Urich the whole time, who starred in the long-running TV series, which, of course, I didn't watch.) It's partly my own fault, for nominating too many books that competed for votes. The only good thing is that reviewers on this site say this is one of the best in the series. And it can't possibly be more annoying to read than last month's selection.FINAL UPDATE - ***CONTAINS SPOILERS***I thought this book had early promise - the crime Spenser is investigating is the wrongful conviction of a young black man, and issues of racism were front and center at first. I was actually enjoying the book for the first 1/2 or so, but then it got very silly, with lots of macho passages - the great Spenser eludes every threat and out-thinks every advesary. This is very much what I suspected the book would be like. Then he gets shot, and spends many chapters in Santa Barbara recovering. Zzzzzzzzz. In the end, the moral dilemma is stated, but not resolved - 2 very bad criminals go free and the lives of two decent people who made a big mistake are ruined. What is the author saying about this??? (Like Donna Tartt with The Secret History, we are dragged along for this story and then the major issue is not adequatedly considered.)Overall, I thought the book was not very satisfying and not even a very good read (uneven and cliched). And what the hell does the title mean??? The "vices" of these characters are very great indeed. Is he being ironic?I especially disliked the side story about Susan and Spenser adopting a child - the issue is resolved quickly, neatly, and without rancor, in (of course) the way that Spenser desired all along. It was just so bull-shitty. Susan is basically a device - she isn't developed much as a character, and mostly her scenes in the book serve to show what a wonderful man Spenser is, either because she says so, or because he brings her food, or they have sex, or whatever. Gah!I found myself thinking about the books I've enjoyed lately, like Fire or Poison Study, where the "star" of the book is not unlike Spenser - wise and capable, and admired by other characters. But I genuinely think there's a difference - these characters are full of self doubt, and the reader hears their internal conversation. Spenser has no doubts, no "psychology" really, which makes the book (presumably all 50 books) much less entertaining to me.

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