My introduction to Spenser: A Savage Place, and Sudden Mischief, by Robert B Parker

I picked up the first of these novels on my holidays in Massachusetts because I wanted to read something associated with the place I was staying.

That was my first mistake. Robert B Parker’s Spenser novels are the most addictive reading this side of Harry Potter, and the other side as well. Each novel rapidly pulls the reader via a threat of elegant, uncluttered writing, into a tangled plot, generally set somewhere in the dark underbelly of the American dream.

My second mistake was picking up A Savage Place, in which Spenser travels to Los Angeles to provide protection to a TV reporter investigating corruption and racketeering in the movie industry.

So I had to start reading Sudden Mischief immediately after I finished A Savage Place, because it is set in Spenser’s more traditional Boston milieu where he is asked by his lover, Susan, to look into the tangled affairs of her ex-husband.

That was my third mistake: By this stage I had become so uncommunicative with my nose stuck in a Spenser book at every opportunity for days on end that my travelling companions threatened grievous sanctions on me if I didn’t declare a moratorium on reading them until I got home.

Spenser, a man with only one name, is a gumshoe in the classic traditions of Phillip Marlowe, Lew Archer and the rest, a contemporary knight errant (or ronin if that’s your bag), smart, tough as nails, wise – many of his ruminations on life contain a genuine profundity – an incorruptible being in an otherwise venial world… and funny: not Abe Lincoln but a droll wit particularly when chewing the fat with his buddy, Hawk.

Robert B Parker died in 2010 but he left behind 40 Spenser novels: I sense they may lead me to ruin other people’s future holidays.