Boston PI Spenser takes on a new case in this installment in Robert B. Parker’s iconic New York Times bestselling series.
Carolina Garcia-Ramirez is a rising star in national politics, taking on the establishment with her progressive agenda. Tough, outspoken, and driven, the young congresswoman has ignited a new conversation in Boston about race, poverty, health care, and the environment. Now facing her second campaign, she finds herself not only fighting a tight primary with an old guard challenger but also contending with numerous death threats coming from hundreds of suspects.
When her chief of staff reaches out to Spenser for security and help finding the culprits of what he believes to be the most credible threats, Garcia-Ramirez is less than thrilled. Since her first grassroots run, she’s used to the antipathy and intimidation women of color often face when seeking power. To her, it’s all noise. But it turns out an FBI agent disagrees, warning Spenser that Garcia-Ramirez might be in real danger this time.
It doesn’t take long for Spenser to cross paths with an extremist group called The Minutemen, led by a wealthy Harvard grad named Bishop Graves. Although Graves is a social media sensation, pushing an agenda of white supremacy and toxic masculinity, he denies he’s behind the attacks. As the primary nears and threats become a deadly plot, it’s up to Spenser, Hawk, and a surprise trusted ally to ensure the congresswoman is safe. This is Spenser doing what he does best, living by a personal code and moral compass that can’t ever be broken.
In Atkins’s routine 10th continuation of Parker’s Spenser series (after 2021’s Someone to Watch over Me), the Boston PI takes on a client with certain similarities to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Massachusetts congresswoman Carolina Garcia-Ramirez, generally referred to by just her initials, supports a progressive agenda: “Free college and health care for all, a living and respectable minimum wage, a green Boston with zero carbon emissions, a massive restructuring of law enforcement.” After the politician is splattered with urine by a Southerner off his meds, members of CGR’s staff consult Spenser. They fear that the attack indicates that the threats against her are rising to a more dangerous level, a concern seemingly validated after her offices in Boston are broken into and vandalized. Spenser suspects that someone on the inside is sharing details of CGR’s schedule and placing her in the crosshairs of a group of white supremacists calling themselves the Minutemen. Spenser banters with his significant other, makes wisecracks, and displays unexpected erudition, but there aren’t any genuine plot surprises, and the end result feels stale. Atkins seems just to be going through the motions. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM Partners. (Jan.)
– Publishers Weekly
Atkins continues to uphold Robert B. Parker’s tradition, giving us another spin with the redoubtable PI Spenser. No plot details yet, but the action ranges from Boston to the Bahamas, and the cover’s sparkly jewels suggest trouble in high places.
– Library Journal
The latest of dozens of Boston-based crime novels in the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series.
Spenser is a tough White detective, and his close associate is a tougher Black guy named Hawk. Both are pretty much on the right side of the law, though Hawk has a less-than-heartwarming history with cops. Aides of Congresswoman Carolina Garcia-Ramirez, aka CGR, want to hire Spenser to protect her from troubling death threats as she campaigns for renomination, although she doesn’t think it necessary. People seem to think she’s either “Joan of Arc or Attila the Hun,” but she says she’s used to the haters. CGR evokes images of AOC and Ayanna Pressley, mainly in the intensity of hatred toward her. She thinks Spenser looks “like a leg breaker from Southie,” but he has more endearing qualities, such as quoting dead White poets: “Faith it does me,” he tells her. “Though it discolors the complexion of my greatness to acknowledge it.” He’s also a renowned wiseass, allowing that he often settles scores with his fists, but “Only when a good hug fails.” Sometimes he’s a bit too cute: “I smiled, offering half wattage so as not to distract her from her duties.” And asked by a receptionist to identify himself, he says, “Fred Flintstone. I’m here about arranging a meeting of the Royal Water Buffalo.” But there are good descriptions: “He had the kind of a face that demanded a spiked collar around his neck,” and Hawk’s pointed social remark, “Sometimes just being born makes you a target.” So there’s going to be a primary debate, and the word on the street is that someone plans to “make a run” at CGR immediately afterward. The FBI wants CGR to fire Spenser and Hawk, but she wisely has confidence in the local muscle. “You and I are a different breed of thug,” says Spenser to Hawk.
A crime yarn laced with tension and wit.
– Kirkus Reviews
A crime yarn laced with tension and wit.”-Kirkus Reviews
“Atkins continues his very successful stewardship of the late Robert B. Parker’s beloved Spenser series. . . This fast-moving and suspenseful thriller is also laced with clever banter. . . Spenser lives and lives well!”-Booklist
“Bye Bye Baby is classic Spenser. . . Atkins captures the essence of the Spenser novels, complete with beloved characters.”-Crime Fiction Critic
– From the Publisher