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Robert B Parker was the best-selling author of over 50 books, including Small Vices, Sudden Mischief, Hush Money, Hugger Mugger, Potshot, Widows Walk, Night Passage, Trouble in Paradise, Death in Paradise, Family Honor, Perish Twice, Shrink Rap, Stone Cold, Melancholy Baby, Back Story, Double Play, Bad Business, Cold Service, Sea Change, School Days and Blue Screen.
Robert B Parker died in 2010 at the age of 77.
Robert B Parker first introduced his most famous character, Spenser, ('that's Spenser with an 's' like the poet') in 1973 with The Godwulf Manuscript. Since then the literate (or literary), wisecracking, hardboiled detective has appeared in over 30 (34 and counting) novels.
Spenser has been acclaimed as one of the great detective characters on a par with Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Lew Archer and Parker was happy to acknowledge the debt he owes to the great hardboiled writers of the 20th century.
Parker developed two other detectives over a series of novels, Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, (the latter apparently inspired by the desire to write a book featuring Helen Hunt in the lead role, a desire that resulted in 'Family Honor'. And of course Parker produced a massive volume of work away from his key detectives, including the authorised completion of 'Poodle Springs', Chandler's unfinished novel, followed by a sequel in 1991, 'Perchance to Dream'.
Robert B. Parker was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, served then two years with the U.S. Army in Korea., then in 1957 earned his M.A. in literature from Boston University. Between 1957 and 1962 he worked in industry as a technical writer and in advertising business then embarked on an academic career. Parker earned his Ph.D. in literature from Boston University in 1971. His dissertation was entitled "The Violent Hero, Wilderness Heritage and Urban Reality: A Study of the Private Eye in the Novels of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald." In 1976 Parker became a full professor at Northeastern University of Boston but three years later retired to devote himself entirely to writing. By then he already had published five Spenser novels. In 2002 Parker was awarded the Grand Master Edgar Award for Lifetime Achievement from Mystery Writers of America (an honour shared with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen).
Parker's style is the sort that creates enthusiasts - the Spenser novels in particular manage to stunningly combine a complex of wide ranging literary and cultural allusion with hard-nosed, pared-down prose and plots that rip along. You can be reading a completely satisfying edge-of-the-seat crime novel which at the same time has references to Shakespeare, Gerard Manley Hopkins, mediaeval courtly love and of course Edmund Spenser. The Spenser novels are also carefully grounded in Boston, providing an cityscape that is as much a character as an atmosphere.
No Exit Press has been publishing Parker's titles in the UK for the last ten years, watching Parker's reputation and readership grow steadily