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The Magnificent Spenser -- I Mean, "Seven"
Robert Parker
Quick read, no mental strain, interesting characters, new locale, solved so far as Spenser is concerned but the Authorities will never know, snappy dialog, what's new?

Parker borrows Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, though this one might be closer to the Western version, The Magnificant Seven, as Spenser and Hawk and five other tough guys from previous adventures set out to rescue the Yuppie boomtown of Potshot from the sleazy gang that hang out on the edge of town and make their living off extortion and "protection" paid by the locals.

Originally hired by a local businesswoman to bring to justice her husband's killer(s), Spenser is also retained by other local prominent citizens to clear out the riffraff whose activities threaten the actual survival of the town. And they're not too concerned as to how he does it, either.

Of course, he does.

Interestingly enough, as much as "Magnificent Seven", i felt strong echoes of other Westerns in this story (not surprising, given the setting). I was somewhat reminded of Donald Hamilton's novel (and the film made from it), The Big Country, whenever Spenser found himself confronting Preacher, the leader of the local Bad Element.

But the film i began thinking of, more and more strongly as i got into the last third of the book, was Sergio Leone's masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in the West, which i strongly recommend; in fact, after reading this book, you might enjoy spending a Saturday or Sunday afternoon watching a double-feature -- "Magnificent Seven" and "Once Upon a Time in the West", both of which are available from Amazon.

All in all, Parker is still not up to his best in this boook, but it's better than some others in the series. I will warn those who haen't read Parker or Spenser before that this is *not* the place to start -- given that Spenser has History with virtually every character in the book, History that is alluded to but never really stated, leaving a goodly part of the book's setup between the lines.

I'm still waiting for the book when Spenser comes face-to-face with Sunny Randall or Jesse Stone; given the number of acquaintances in common that they have, and the relatively small area in which all three operate, it has to happen.

A Note: Parker has either spent some Quality Time in Atlanta or Done His Research Well -- both in this book and in the second Jesse Stone book he gets the nightclub-and-shopping district, Buckhead, just about perfect. But i think he's still getting the local terminology wrong about roads, with local characters referring to Interstate Highways as "Route so-and-so" -- to Spenser, "Route 20" would be I-20, which cuts through town down by Turner Field. But if he asked an Atlantan how to get to "Route 20", he'd probably wind up about seventy miles north of there, at Georgia 20 near the Mall of Georgia...