The Way of the Word

28. January 2010

Review: Robert B. Parker – High Profile

Filed under: books,review — jensaltmann @ 11:09
Tags: , ,

Originally published in 2008

Reading Robert B. Parker immediately after Patricia Highsmith was a mistake, because it served to highlight the flaws in Parker’s prose.

The story: The body of controversial media personality Walton Weeks is found, and shortly after the body of his mistress. Lutz, Weeks’ bodyguard, doesn’t know anything. The mistress turns out to be pregnant by Weeks. Paradise police chief Jesse Stone looks to Weeks’ ex-wives and staff in his search for the killer. At the same time, his girlfriend Sunny Randall protects his ex-wife Jenn from an alleged stalker and rapist.

Parker’s work is generally enjoable. But this novel plays more to his weaknesses than to his strengths. The chapters aren’t really chapters, but rather short scenes (although that might not be a bad idea in this age of attention-span challenged readers). There isn’t that much text on each page, so the novel appears longer than it actually is. This layout also gives the impression that the book is a page-turner, because there is so little text on each page that you turn the pages fairly quickly.

As usual, Parker’s characters move from conversation to conversation in a very laid-back style, until the killer is uncovered and the protagonists’ personal relationships are figured out. Parker, as usual, stands back. He observes what his characters do. Unfortunately, as he does this he focuses on dialog only. Any non-dialog clues that might be around are treated arbitrarily and sometimes only revealed when the characters talk about them. As we don’t really get into the characters, including the main characters (as with everything else, their characteristics are discussed by characters instead of shown), the entire story remains shallow and superficial. Keeping this in mind, it’s no wonder that his stories were usually picked up by television for adaptation.

Despite this, I usually enjoy Robert B. Parker’s work.  But when I finish and put the book on the shelf, I always find myself wishing for something more substantial.

Verdict: mildly recommended.

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