This was a bittersweet read: one more visit with Spenser, Susan and Pearl. On the sweet side, this story is one of the best of the recent Spenser episodes. Through thirty-nine books, spanning more than 35 years, Spenser has grown from a hard-knock, street-smart P.I. to a well-read, cultured, sometimes-sensitive investigator who can still hold his own in a fist-fight. His quick wit and charm - not to mention his cooking skills - make him one of my all-time favorite characters.
The bitter comes from saying good-bye to such loved characters. Mr. Parker passed away in January, 2010, so this will necessarily be our final chance to spend time in Spenser's Boston. I wish for one more glimpse of Hawk, Spenser's favorite co-hort and friend but, alas, he was out of the country during this caper. However, I like the fact that this wasn't written to be the close of the series, with all details attended to and lose threads neatly tied. We are left to imagine our own future for Spenser and Susan.
Painted Ladies elicited both amusement and melancholy. If you are a long-time Parker fan, you'll love this last installment. If you've never met Spenser, dive into the series anywhere and fall in love. This is one instance when I'm glad I have read the series out of order - there are still some older Spenser adventures for me to catch up with, but the literary world is slightly dimmer for the loss of Robert Parker and Spenser.