On the Spenser series

Bob, Boston, and Me: A Remembrance

By Jeremiah Healy

Writers of crime fiction tend to be cooperative–even collaborative–as opposed to competitive. When I broke into the mystery field during the mid-’80s, however, this “we all live in the same village” ethos within a profession was, quite frankly, surprising to me. An illustration: If Author A was contacted by a library to give a talk, A–as part of the village protocol–would suggest the inclusion of Authors B and C as well, usually with diversity of gender and sub-genre, so that all three authors could appeal diagonally to members of the audience who might have attended to see only one of them.

By then, I’d already experienced mini-careers as a sheriff’s officer and military police lieutenant, trial attorney and law professor. Each of those vocations stressed team-first, yes, but given the fields involved, daily life became a confrontational, us-versus-them dynamic (including, even, the law professor/student one, which uses confrontation in order to meld the latter into the best advocate he or she can be). Over time, though, my reaction to our crime-writers’ village evolved from surprised to reassured, especially when a marquee author was not just willing, but actually enthusiastic, about sharing the ephemeral spotlight.

Looking back, of all my colleagues, the one who did the most for my own career was Bob Parker. And, for the record, it was always either Bob or Mr. Parker, never Robert. In addition, although many of us think of him as the iconic Robert B. Parker, I never heard the man say or saw him write  …

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