Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Thin Air

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thin Air (1995) Robert B. Parker

Belson’s wife has disappeared. He first comes to talk to Spenser, because Spenser went though something similar with Susan. However, when Belson is shot, Spenser takes over the case (mind you, Quirk and the BPD are working on the case as well, but Spenser has more leeway and time).

There are parts of this story I remember quite clearly.

The slim muddy trickle that had been leaking down from the roof garden had been joined by other trickles until finally the whole wall was sheeted with dirty water that ran steadily.

Above us I heard the sound of wood twisting. “It’s the goddamned roof garden,” I said to Chollo.

“The roof garden?”

“Yeah. It’s been raining for three days. All the dirt on the roof. It’s soaked full of water. The house is caving in under the weight.”

I remembered those bits quite clearly, because it was such an unusual thing to have happen in a mystery.

There are other parts that struck me as being little different from today.

The signs on the store fronts were in Spanish. The billboards were Spanish. The only English I saw was a sign that read: ELECT TIM HARRINGTON, MAYOR OF ALL THE PEOPLE. I wondered how hard Tim was working for the Hispanic vote.

Slums were immutable. The ethnicities changed, but the squalor and sadness and desperation remained as constant as the movement of the stars.

One of the things I especially liked about this book is Chollo. Spenser met him several books prior, and asks for his help. First, as much as I love Hawk, he wasn’t going to be any help here. Second, although Chollo is like Hawk, he is also clearly not Hawk. It’s another reminder that although Spenser is supposedly on the side of angels, he doesn’t hesitate to call on bad guys for assistance.

I looked at Chollo in the car beside me. He was sitting low in the seat, his arms folded on his chest, his eyes half closed. He’d probably encountered everything Deleon had encountered, and he hadn’t turned out much better, probably. He was a bad guy, but if he told you something you could believe him. He said he’d kill you, he’d kill you. He said he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t. You could trust his word. Which was more than could be said about a lot of people who weren’t supposed to be bad guys. Besides, he was my bad guy.

And he’s amusing. Which one sort of needs to be to hang out with Spenser.

“Vamanos!” Santiago said to the driver.

“Let’s go,” Chollo translated for me.

“I sort of got that one,” I said. “Especially when we started right up.”

Chollo said nothing. But his eyes were amused.

I especially like that it’s made clear that Spanish speakers are not interchangeable in real life.

the concept of Hispanic is a gringo concept. We are not Hispanic, or, as they say on his side of the country, Latino. We are Dominican and Puerto Rican and Mexican. We are like your Indians in the last century.

Much like the previous book when Spenser dealt with Chinese immigrants, it’s made clear that immigrants are not a monolithic population, and that there are sub-populations within sub-populations.

Age-wise, no mention of Vietnam, however he is still talking about Joe Walcott, who retired in 1953. So that’s still putting him in that era.

Joe Walcott had once taught me the same lesson when I was very young, though it took me longer to learn it.

As I mentioned earlier, we’re getting into some of my favorite Spenser stories. Spenser is funny, yet there remains a serious and realistic thread underneath everything.
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Categories: 8.5/10, Mystery, Private Eye, Reread

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