Book Review: School Days, by Robert B. Parker

I remember the Spenser for Hire series on television, but never watched it. In a way, I’m glad, since I’m just now making the connection to Spenser novels. Robert B. Parker definitely has a style, as many here have noted, that is short, choppy, and sometimes leaves you feeling as though you’ve missed out on knowing something that only the author/narrator can know, things that maybe should have been told to the reader. I always had the feeling while reading this book, School Days, that I was missing out on some inside information about the universe this book is set in. I’m assuming, perhaps incorrectly so, that had I been reading other Spenser novels prior to this one, I would be more in the know, since I’m told by a friend that the Spenser universe has a sort of set up to it that perhaps I need to fully appreciate these Spenser novels.

All that said, I loved School Days. I mean, the writing IS choppy, but that is because we’re getting it as though it’s straight from Spenser’s head. We’re not getting it from Robert B. Parker – Spenser is telling us his story, in his head, as it’s happening, and that, to me, makes it fast-paced, interesting, and almost voyeuristic in nature. I love his ‘asides’ and ‘inside thoughts’ and the internal dialogue is freaking hilarious. I’m hard to impress when it comes to writing, with so many of the blockbusters being so similar in style that I’m bored. This is different. It’s not Pulitzer or National Book Award type quality writing, but in some ways, it’s better than that, because it does what a book should do: it entertains.

Also, I am not one to laugh out loud at a book, and Robert B. Parker, through Spenser had me rolling at some very memorable sarcastic quips and one-liners. I suppose that’s a personal preference too, as I understand not everyone likes and/or appreciates sarcasm and Spenser is nothing if not raucously sarcastic.

School Days takes two major plots that were ripped from the then more current headlines in real life: school shootings and adults/educators having affairs with students. It weaves a tale that didn’t always go where I wanted it to, and in fact, a couple of things I could have done without, but then I guess real life doesn’t always work out the way we plan either, so for Spenser, sometimes ‘them’s the breaks…’

I too, like many of the reviews on Amazon said, wish I could have seen more of Susan in this novel, since she was away at a conference, so I don’t know much about that relationship, but there was enough in the book to intrigue me. However, if I did not know that Spenser was a series of books, I would have felt cheated that we learned so little about Susan. It was like she was an afterthought.

So the final assessment is this: If you take this book, which is a fast, easy read, and take it like it’s an episode of a TV series, and this is just one plotline in the entire universe that is Spenser, I think you’ll enjoy the book. If you take it as a stand-alone book, expecting blockbluster best-seller action all by itself, it might leave you wanting a little bit. However, I do look forward to finding the first Spenser novel and starting from the beginning now and reviewing the other Robert B. Parker works when I do.

To purchase your copy of the mass paperback for Spenser, School Days, you can visit at this link.


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