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by Robert B. Parker
No Exit Press, October 2007
304 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 1842432095

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Dennis Doherty walks into Boston PI Spenser's office and asks him to follow his wife to see if she is cheating on him. Doherty loves his wife and insists that it can't be true, but all the same he has to know. Spenser understood that feeling, as he had it 20 years before when his own Susan Silverman temporarily ran away with another man. Spenser accepts the case.

Right away Spenser discovers that the wife, Jordan, is having an affair with a lecturer, Perry Alderson, at the college where she also teaches. Spenser, using help from his friend and colleague Hawk, bugs Jordan's pocketbook and listens to the illicit couple. Not only does the listening device prove she's having an affair, but it also proves that Perry Alderson is interested in getting information from Jordan about her husband who turns out to be an FBI agent working on cases having to do with terrorist groups in the US.

Spenser lets Doherty know that his wife is unfaithful and with whom, but he also makes certain that Doherty isn't going to do something stupid and violent. Spenser than also takes it upon himself to inform an FBI agent he trusts about Perry Alderson, and that he has been getting information about an unnamed FBI man and his cases.

Unfortunately, the Dohertys' situation reminds Spenser of the time when Susan, his 'One And Only', briefly left him for another man. But he also doesn't like what he learns about Perry Alderson, so he keeps some men tailing the main subjects of the case, even though he's no longer getting paid for his time.

Then things start to happen. After the wife, Jordan, tells Alderson that she and her husband are split up, Jordan is suddenly shot on the street, and soon afterwards Doherty is found dead in the river. Because he knows the real timeline, Spenser understands that it was all set up to look like a jealous husband shot his wife, and then did away with himself, but it's plain that someone, as yet unknown, killed both. Spenser thinks that Alderson is guilty, but even he needs proof.

With a plan in mind, Spenser lets Alderson know that he is watching him and in turn Alderson finds things out about Spenser. To get on his nerves, he makes an appointment with Spenser's psychiatrist girlfriend Susan.

What Alderson hasn't a clue about, is that Spenser isn't going to permit Susan to come to any harm ever. He would stop that by any means possible and Spenser has many means that he is more than willing to use. Before it is over Alderson will learn that Spenser is a more dangerous adversary than many of the terrorists he funds.

There have been more than 30 Spenser novels by Robert B Parker and this last one is still fun. It's not at all a large book, not in plot or in substance. It is a nice, small book with a leisurely pace and no surprises, other than what Susan and Spenser are contemplating doing, but that's another topic for another day and another book. The main theme here is that Spenser and in turn Susan are both reminded of that long ago time when Susan felt she had to leave Spenser for another man.

Though not an important installment in the Spenser series, NOW AND THEN is still a pleasurable read and there's no reason to miss it.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, August 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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