Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ode to Robert B. Parker

As I say, I'm not sure I'd have undertaken it....
oh, yeah, I would. They were offering me a lot
of money.
Robert B. Parker

Hearing Robert B. Parker died last week saddened me. I looked forward to a Parker book, whether it be a mystery or a novel. I enjoyed his characters, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall and Spenser...with an s, like the poet. Picking up a Parker mystery, you were visiting old friends, you caught up with them...and the latest murder/investigation/violent event that is about to transpire with them.

While I like his mysteries immensely, his novels were always a nice surprise. Here are a few of my favorite Parker non-mysteries:

One of the best books I've read about Wyatt Earp was Gunman's Rhapsody. Parker's Earp is a man of few words, he lets his actions speak for him.  Earp is strong, fast and quiet, the way I would picture this icon of the old west to be. Earp doesn't seek out violence, it just seems to find him. Earp and his brothers, Dodge City, Tombstone, Doc Holiday and the OK Corral--they are all here. Loved it.

Double Play takes place in Brooklyn. It's 1947, and Jackie Robinson is breaking the color barrier by joining the Dodgers. Joseph Burke, a WWII vet trying to re-adjust to life after the war, is hired as his body guard. An imagined friendship between two men who each taught each other something about acceptance. The banter between Robinson and Burke is wonderful, and says so much, about the way things were then, the beliefs and fears of people at that time, and the sacrifices made to accomplish what is important.

Appaloosa is about two gunmen who change their ways to try and rescue a town from bad guys, with a leader who lets his men do whatever they want. Not your usual bad guy/good guy western, it is more about the customs and way of life in the west in the 1800's. Violent, romantic and full of surprises, this is not your typical western.
*This was made into a movie starring Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons and Vigo Mortensen. Read the book, give yourself a treat and watch the movie. Good stuff.

For me, Parker wrote some of best westerns I have read. Both Gunman's Rhapsody and Appaloosa will give you an eyeopening visit to the old west; Double Play made me wish that the friendship between Jackie Robinson and Joseph Burke wasn't fiction because of the way Parker wrote about it. I hoped that Robinson did have someone like Burke to help him during that time. If you have only enjoyed Parker's mysteries, give his novels a try. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Thank you Robert B. Parker for writing some terrific books, introducing us to some great characters, and for making reading an enjoyment. You will be missed.


le0pard13 said...

Great post and tribute, Bev. The Spencer's and Stone's I'd heard about and read some, but the westerns I'd not a clue. I'm going to have to fix that. Thanks very much for this.

Bev said...

I hope you check them out. Parker did some great novels.
By the way, which book did you buy for a Christmas present?

Anonymous said...

Great tribute to a great man!

I have an award for you HERE

Bev said...

Thanks Vicki. I will miss him. I enjoyed his books.
Thanks for the award! I am glad you like the blog.