Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Small Vices, Audible Version

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Small Vices, Audible Version (1997) Robert B. Parker narrated by Burt Reynolds

Small VicesThis is, hands down, one of my favorite Spenser books.

It’s a story that puts Spenser’s complexity right up front, as the client he is hired to clear is an unlikable career criminal.

“Just don’t get romantic on this one,” Jackson said. “Ellis is a bad guy. Maybe he didn’t have much choice about that, but it don’t mean he ain’t bad. You get him loose, you may be doing him a favor. You ain’t helping anyone else. And you probably ain’t helping him. You get him out, he gonna go back.”

But it’s more than that. This is the first book I remember reading where after getting hurt the main character has to take time to recover and rehab. And that rehab is a significant part of this book, just as it would be in real life.

“Might take a while,” Hawk said. “Hill’s a bitch.”

“Here we go,” I said.

We started up. I was half dragging my left leg. Hawk walked slowly beside me. On the right there was a lemon grove, the wet fruit glistening among the green leaves. Nobody seemed to be harvesting it. The fruit was yellow and heavy on the trees and littered the ground, some of it rotting beneath the trees. I was gasping for breath. I looked up and the mailbox was still thirty yards away.

“No reason not to stop and rest,” Hawk said.

I nodded. I looked back. The wet black road surface gleamed. I was twenty yards up the hill and I couldn’t talk. We stood silently together in the steady rain. I was wearing an Oakland A’s baseball cap, and white New Balance sneakers, jeans, and a bright green rain jacket that Susan said was the ugliest garment she’d ever seen legalized. In the left-hand pocket the Detective Special weighed about two hundred pounds.

“How . . . high . . . is . . . this . . . hill?”

“Never measured it,” Hawk said. “Takes me ’bout ten minutes to walk up, five minutes to run.”

“Run?” I said.

Hawk grinned. “See that tree sticking out over the road? Let’s aim for that, when you ready.”

That entire chapter is for me the very heart of what makes Spenser, Spenser. And the heart of his relationships with Hawk. It is also something I remembered and thought about after I broke my ankle and was going through my own rehab: it takes time and work.

That chapter reminded me not to give up. Still does.

But there are so many passages that stick in my mind from this story. Take Hawk’s summation of the case.

“So,” Hawk said, “Alves borrows or steals a car one night, an inconspicuous old pink Caddy. He drives out to Pemberton in his inconspicuous car, where there ain’t no black folks, and the cops pay attention to any that they see. He cruises around in his inconspicuous car until he spots a white girl on a busy street, drags her into his inconspicuous car in front of witnesses, drives her somewhere, takes off her clothes and strangles her, though he maybe doesn’t rape her, dumps her body in the middle of the Pemberton Campus, and rides on back home with her clothes and the aforesaid ligature in his inconspicuous car, so in case the cops stop him he can incriminate himself.”

In the audio version, Burt Reynolds annunciates every instance of in-con-spic-uous, which further emphasizes just how ridiculous the case against Alves is.

When you put everything together, it’s an all but perfect story, of doing something because you said you would, of persisting, and doing what is right, even if it’s not necessarily good.

As far as the narration, Burt Reynolds is so far my favorite narrator of this series. He has Spenser and Hawk pretty perfect, and makes me feel the story.

The editing and production are pretty bad, however. The music is distracting, and in the shift from tape/cd to mps, there are a lot of abrupt and pretty awful cuts. It was a nice idea, but didn’t work out at all.

Another thing to note: Burt Reynold’s voice is deep, and he often elides words together. I like it, except when there is any kind of background noise, in which case it is extremely difficult to catch all the words. Keep that in mind.

But despite those flaws, this remains one of my favorite mysteries and one of my favorite audio books.
Rating: 9/10

Publisher: Phoenix Books


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