Born and raised in Massachusetts, Parker attended Colby College in Maine, served with the Army in Korea, and then completed a Ph.D. in English at Boston University. He married his wife Joan in 1956; they raised two sons, David and Daniel. Together the Parkers founded Pearl Productions, a Boston-based independent film company named after their short-haired pointer, Pearl, who has also been featured in many of Parker’s novels. He and Joan live in the Boston area.
I first became familiar with his work when I worked dispatch, and Josie and Kathy and I would watch the short-lived A Man Called Hawk while working security. The first book of his I read was Crimson Joy, that year at college, and then I worked my way through them. Of his Spenser novels, some are classics that can be read and re-read, like Early Autumn, Ceremony, or Cold Service. Some, like Pale Kings and Princes are only worth reading once. I’ve gotten good receipts from his books, and some good restaurant recommendations.
In his later years, Parker branched out, with new characters, and new genres, like novels and westerns. They’re all worth a read, at least once. I own most of what he wrote after Ceremony in hardcover, and I’ve got a copy of The Godwulf Manuscript. I just need the early ones in hardcover, and those are hard to get*.
I like Parker. I like his philosophy of autonomy, of self-reliance, of doing right in a world that is cynical and uncaring. Of being pure of heart, and having ideals, and knowing you’ll fall short and trying anyway. I always wanted to write a Spenser cookbook, well, now there’s an end to the canon. If I don’t do it, someone else will.
*The Judas Goat, A Savage Place, Early Autumn, Looking for Rachel Wallace, Promised Land, Mortal Stakes, God Save the Child. If anyone knows of where I can get them in hardback, drop me a line, please.