Cold Service

by Robert B. Parker

A Spenser Novel

When Spenser's closest ally, Hawk, is brutally injured and left for dead while protecting bookie Luther Gillespie, Spenser embarks on an epic journey to rehabilitate his friend in body and soul. Hawk, always proud, has never been dependent on anyone. Now he is forced to make connections: to accept the medical technology that will ensure his physical recovery, and to reinforce the tenuous emotional ties he has to those around him.

Spenser quickly learns that the Ukrainian mob is responsible for the hit, but finding a way into their tightly knit circle is not nearly so simple. Their total control of the town of Marshport, from the bodegas to the police force to the mayor's office, isn't just a sign of rampant corruption—it's a form of arrogance that only serves to ignite Hawk's desire to get even. As the body count rises, Spenser is forced to employ some questionable techniques and even more questionable hired guns while redefining his friendship with Hawk in the name of vengeance.


"...sincere, visceral entertainment that will more than satisfy the author's fans."
Publishers Weekly

"Cold Service, the title of Robert B. Parker's latest, refers to revenge, said to be a dish best served cold. Hot, cold or lukewarm, revenge is urgently called for, because Spenser's buddy Hawk has been shot in the back and seriously injured by Ukrainian mobsters who crept into our country yearning to breathe free at someone else's expense...Pending resolution of portentous questions, Spenser, Hawk and Susan will handle their quandaries deftly. Their high-velocity patter does not age. Violence is concise, alcoholic intake moderate, wrangling warmed by wit and smoothed by stimulants. Proof that Parker is near the top of his form, which is nothing to sneeze at."
Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Spenser, the Boston private eye in Robert B. Parker's enduring series of hard-boiled novels, is the eminence grise of the genre...the mob war is meticulously orchestrated, and the dialogue is precision polished like a fine tool. But the rationale for Spenser's lawlessness and Hawk's violence is more complex than usual, and has a lot to do with the pressure on aging action heroes who can't afford to show, or even acknowledge, their vulnerabilities. The issue of mortality is on the table here, and Parker hasn't written as realistically or with as much feeling on the subject since Small Vices (1997)...although he still wrestles with his conscience, he's now more driven by his fear of mortality than by the old issues of morality."
New York Times Book Review

"His witty but loving treatment of the bond between two close friends who don't want to admit their closeness will touch the reader's heart. And, of course, the final shootout between the Lochinvars and the bad guys will satisfy the most demanding fan of the two-fisted mystery."
Chicago Sun-Times

"Among the best in the is the deeper issues stirring beneath the surface that make this an extraordinary entry in the series. This is not just an action thriller. The issues of mortality, vulnerability and the bonds of friendship dominate. We hear Spenser talking about his own fear of dying. Of course, Spenser must help his friend, but murder and assassination are not something he engages in lightly...The genius of Parker in this series is that he has brought the ethos of the old western to the modern-day mystery novel...Parker is a master craftsman."

"The series' best entries all feature a liberal dose of Hawk, Spenser's soft-speaking, big stick-carrying soul mate, and this one is a veritable Hawk showcase...The action comes in a rush...but the satisfying part here is watching Parker dig deeply into the remarkable friendship between two tough guys constitutionally averse to the whole touchy-feely side of life...When he's on his game—and he's on it here—Parker is capable of packing a Hemingway punch into a few brief words and the occasional grunt."
Booklist (starred)

"Strong...a complicated plot, numerous tough guys and plenty of tension that builds to an (interestingly) off-page mano-à-mano shootout between Hawk and Boots...visceral entertainment."
Publishers Weekly

"A veritable Hawk-fest....Spenser must walk the fine line between helping his friend and retaining his hold on compassion and humanity, without which he will lose the love of his life. Cold Service presents Parker at the top of his game, delivering fast-paced action, staccato dialogue, and depths of friendship hitherto unexplored in the series."

"The Spenser series always is at the stratospheric levels of male in your face boldness, but this time Robert B. Parker takes the machismo gene to the upper area of the atmosphere, the exosphere. The story line is action-packed as the two friends continue their quest...series fans will enjoy this thriller filled with Superman levels of testosterone."

"Robert B. Parker has written so many Spenser novels that they stand almost as legend, full of faces and places we've come to know by heart. The series' longevity lends the characters an air of immutability, as if Spenser, the Marlowesque P.I.; Hawk, his black alter ego; Susan Silverman, Spenser's lady love; and the rest will never age, even though the first Spenser mystery, The Godwulf Manuscript, appeared in 1973. Yet there have been sutle changes over the 30-plus books, hints that time moves on and that our heroes are, if not preternaturally young, at least mortal...Watching Hawk and Spenser outfox Boots and the mobsters, complete with echoes from the film "High Noon," is a treat even as our heroes' exploits raise questions about the blind eye that modern law enforcement seems willing to turn on their vigilante activities. Some quietly powerful scenes between Spenser and Hawk show the depth of their long-term friendship, and equally thoughtful exchanges between Spenser and Susan reveal an enduring and enviable love. All this in a package that features writing as lean and seductive as poetry—plus Hawk dishing up his own brand of retribution—makes Cold Service one hot mystery."
Washington Post

"Cold Service unites the exciting action of some of the earlier Spenser books with the increasingly accurate moral compass of the more recent ones. This time out, Robert B. Parker has written a Spenser for all seasons."
Boston Globe

"The situation is as violent as any Spenser has encountered, and it requires making up new rules—but according to old principles. Cold Service unites the exciting action of some of the earlier Spenser books with the increasingly accurate moral compass of the more recent ones. This time out, Robert B. Parker has written a Spenser for all seasons."
Philadelphia Inquirer

Buy the book

paperback | Putnam | 2005 | ISBN: 9780399152405