I was very saddened today to learn of the passing of one of my all-time favorite writers, Robert Parker. Parker, who is probably best known for his “Spenser” series, died yesterday in his home at the age of 77 of an apparent heart attack.
Parker is the author of 63 novels. He is probably best known for his Spenser series (37 of his 63 books), which also became a hit TV series starring the late Robert Urich (Spenser for Hire).
He is also very well known for another series featuring Sheriff Jesse Stone of the Paradise MA Police Department. Like the Spenser series, several of the books in this series were also brought to the small screen, but in TV Movie of the Week format which starred Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone as the small town sheriff. The latest book in this particular series, “Split Image” is due out in April.
Parker was nothing if not prolific and this showed as he penned yet another regular series, this one featuring female private eye Sunny Randall. On occasion he would combine several of his characters in one novel and would feature Randall and Stone in the same book, or borrow regular characters from his Spenser novels for one of the Jesse Stone novels. It was always fun when this happened. Almost like running into an old friend on the street.
He also wrote several books in a western series called Appaloosa, which was also made into a TV movie in 2008, which was directed by and starred Ed Harris.
In an interview with the Boston Globe in 2007, Parker shared some of the secret of his success, “The art of writing a mystery is just the art of writing fiction,” he said. “You create interesting characters and put them into interesting circumstances and figure out how to get them out of them. “
On a personal note, as a hugefan of Mr. Parker’s work I can say that I have read very nearly all of his 63 novels. Spenser is one of my favorite characters and the way that Parker wove the secondary characters into the plot line was pure mastery. They were witty and they were poignant. He gave us bad guys that we could actually like, Tedy Sapp, Tony Marcus, Joe Broz, and Henry Cimoli, not to mention turning the name “Hawk” into a household name. Parker is one of the reasons I wanted to become a novelist.
Parker is survived by his wife Joan, and two sons, David and Daniel.