The late Robert B. Parker is one of my all-time favourite authors. His spare style is chock full of meaning, innuendo, and emotion, and usually leaves me equal parts satisfied, and inspired. Sadly, Rough Weather left me feeling flat.

Parker’s style was all there. The emotion, innuendo, meaning. What was missing, was an identifiable plot.

If you’ve never read one of RBP’s books, you’ve not met his main character, Spenser. Spenser is a Private Investigator in Boston, Ma., often shadowed by his friend, Hawk. Together, they face down a variety of bad guys from criminal masterminds and mob bosses, to general Joes making poor choices. But in this book, it’s a woman—there’s always a woman (and a lot of sexual innuendo never acted upon because Spenser’s heart and body belong to one woman, Susan Silverman)—who’s at the heart of the intrigue. A woman, and her daughter who’s been kidnapped in elaborate style shortly after saying her I Dos. And that’s about it.

The story revolves around this woman, Heidi Bradshaw, and Spenser’s unsolicited and unpaid search for her daughter (whose name, oddly enough, is Adelaide, which was the main female character’s name in Burning Lamp which I also read this week), during which he discovers a bunch of information about mother and daughter, except where the daughter is. I won’t spoil the ending for anyone who wishes to read the story, but suffice to say, I was disappointed by the denouement, which to me felt more like de-not-moment.

My only take on how RBP chose to end this story after all of the investigatory and violent events, is to show how not every investigation is resolved by the investigator, but by sheer chance. Or the quarry him or herself. Or, I assume, not at all, though I haven’t yet read a RBP novel where there wasn’t some sort of resolution to the inciting incident.

The story’s ending leaves you teetering on a thin and uncomfortable line between legal justice, and moral justice, which, perhaps, was RBP’s ultimate goal for this story.

Overall, I’m glad this wasn’t the first RBP book I ever picked up, as I’m not sure if I’d have picked up another.

For style and wit, I give the author 5 stars. For story resolution, 1 star. For authorial courage in writing about a difficult subject matter, 5 stars. Star average: 3.5.


Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect. ~Margaret Mitchell

To which I add: Neither are authors! ?

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