Well, I just found out today that one of my very favorite authors, Robert B. Parker, creator of a whole ton of books died at the age of 77... IN JANUARY. I've been spending the past few months reading and re-reading my favorite Spenser books, thinking about writing this guy fan mail, eagerly anticipating news of a new novel... way to pay attention, me.
Robert. B Parker wrote more books than I can count, mostly with the characters Spenser, a Boston PI, Jesse Stone, a small-town East Coast police chief, and Sunny Randall, a female PI who was like Spenser if he was a hot chick. He also wrote a few Westerns that were the basis for the film Appaloosa and its sequels and a ton of stand-alone novels and continuations of classics.
I was a major fan of his Spenser detective novels for their brief style, humor, and intelligence. The actual mysteries kept me guessing (most of the time), but the attraction wasn't the mystery but class of the main character and the fact that if he couldn't beat everyone up, he had a bunch of badass, wise-cracking friends who would back him up. Moral dilemmas and hilariously described characters were often more important than actually finding out who-did-it, and on multiple occasions Spenser would end up telling his client off and either not revealing to anyone who really committed the crime or not letting the runaway child go back to the abusive parents who wanted them back. Parker's books are what got me into writing mystery stories, and helped me get away from long, descriptive prose to a more punctuated, hard-hitting style that I have tons of fun writing in (although you probably couldn't tell by reading this). He also fueled my desire to go visit Boston, even if it isn't exactly like the one in the books.
The Spenser stories were running out of steam a little lately, but since they'd been going for 30 years I really can't blame him for running out of ideas, and the books were still well enough written for me to come back every time. There's a few more coming out this year that I'm already salivating for, but after that... well, I hope no one tries to re-start the series, or I hope if they do I'm the person who gets to do it.
Thanks for everything, Mr. Parker. I'm gonna miss the Hell out of you.