Robert B. Parker: Wikis


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Robert B. Parker

photo from Manchester Library
Born Robert Brown Parker
September 17, 1932(1932-09-17)[1]
Springfield, Massachusetts,
United States
Died January 18, 2010 (aged 77)[2]
Cambridge, Massachusetts,
United States
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Period 1974–2010
Genres Detective fiction, Western fiction
Spouse(s) Joan Hall Parker (1956-his death)[3]
Children 2 sons
Official website

Robert Brown Parker (September 17, 1932 – January 18, 2010)[1] was an American crime writer. His most famous works were the novels about the private detective Spenser. ABC television network developed the television series Spenser: For Hire based on the character in the late 1980s; a series of TV movies based on the character were also produced. His works incorporate encyclopedic knowledge of the Boston metropolitan area.[4] Parker was 77 when he died of a heart attack at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts; discovered at his desk by his wife Joan, he had been working on a novel.[2][5][6] The Spenser novels have been cited by critics and bestselling authors such as Robert Crais, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane[7] as not only influencing their own work but reviving and changing the detective genre.[8]



Parker was born in Springfield, Massachusetts.[1][9] On August 26, 1956, Parker married Joan H. Parker,[1] whom he claimed to have met as a toddler at a birthday party.[10] (They spent their childhoods in the same neighborhood.[11])

Parker and his wife had two sons, David and Daniel. Originally, Parker's character Spenser was to have the first name "David", but he didn't want to omit his other son. So Parker removed the first name completely and to this day, Spenser's first name remains unknown and rarely referred to.[12]

After earning a BA degree from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Parker served in the US Army in Korea. In 1957, he earned his Master's degree in English literature from Boston University and then worked in advertising and technical writing until 1962.[9] Parker received a PhD degree in English literature from Boston University in 1971.[1][13] His dissertation, titled "The Violent Hero, Wilderness Heritage and Urban Reality", discussed the exploits of fictional private-eye heroes created by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald.[1][9]

Parker wrote his first novel[13] in 1971 while at Northeastern University. He became a full professor in 1976, and turned to full-time writing in 1979 with five Spenser novels to his credit.[9]


Parker's popular Spenser novels are known for his characters of varied races and religions. According to critic Christina Nunez, Parker's "inclusion of [characters of] other races and sexual persuasions" lends his writings a "more modern feel".[14] For example, the Spenser series characters include Hawk and Chollo, African-American and Mexican-American, respectively, as well as his Jewish girlfiend, Susan, various Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, a gay cop, Lee Farrell,[15] and even a gay mob boss, Gino Fish.[16] The open homosexuality of both his sons gives his writing "[a] sensibility," Ms. Nunez feels, "[which] strengthens Parker's sensibility [toward gays]." In 1985 Spenser was made into a successful television series, Spenser for Hire which starred Robert Urich, Avery Brooks and Barbara Stock.[17]

Parker created female detective Sunny Randall at the request of actress Helen Hunt, who wanted him to write a part for her to play.[1] He wrote the first book, and the film version was planned for 2000,[9] but never materialized.[13] However, his publisher liked the character and asked him to continue with the series.[13]

Aside from crime writing, Parker also produced several Western novels, including Appaloosa,[18] and children's books. In 1994 he collaborated with Japanese photographer Kasho Kumagai on a coffee table book called Spenser's Boston, exploring the city through Spenser's "eyes" via high quality, 4-color photos. In addition to Parker's introduction, excerpts from several of the Spenser novels were included.[19]

Parker and his wife created an independent film company called Pearl Productions, based in Boston. It is named after their German short-haired pointer, Pearl.[13]

Note that there is another Robert B. Parker (1905-55) whose mystery novels of the 1950s are being reprinted by Hard Case Crime starting with Passport to Peril in July of 2009.



Parker received three nominations and two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. He received the first award, the "Best Novel Award" in 1977, for the fourth novel in the Spenser series, Promised Land.[20] In 1990 he shared, with wife Joan, a nomination for "Best Television Episode" for the TV series B.L. Stryker; however, the award went to David J. Burke and Alfonse Ruggiero Jr. for Wiseguy.[21]

In 2002 he received the Grand Master Award Edgar for his collective oeuvre.[22]

In 2008 he was awarded the Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award.

Spenser novels

Also see Spenser (character)

  1. The Godwulf Manuscript (1973) ISBN 0-440-12961-3
  2. God Save the Child (1974) ISBN 0-425-04301-0
  3. Mortal Stakes (1975) ISBN 0-440-15758-7
  4. Promised Land (1976) (Edgar Award, 1977, Best Novel) ISBN 0-395-24771-3
  5. The Judas Goat (1978) ISBN 0-440-14196-6
  6. Looking for Rachel Wallace (1980) ISBN 0-440-15316-6
  7. Early Autumn (1980) ISBN 0-440-12214-7
  8. A Savage Place (1981) ISBN 0-440-08094-0
  9. Ceremony (1982) ISBN 0-440-10993-0
  10. The Widening Gyre (1983) ISBN 0-440-19535-7
  11. Valediction (1984) ISBN 0-440-19246-3
  12. A Catskill Eagle (1985) ISBN 0-440-11132-3
  13. Taming a Sea Horse (1986) ISBN 0-440-18841-5
  14. Pale Kings and Princes (1987) ISBN 0-440-20004-0
  15. Crimson Joy (1988) ISBN 0-440-20343-0
  16. Playmates (1989) ISBN 0-425-12001-5
  17. Stardust (1990) ISBN 0-425-12723-0
  18. Pastime (1991) ISBN 0-425-13293-5
  19. Double Deuce (1992) ISBN 0-425-13793-7
  20. Paper Doll (1993) ISBN 0-425-14155-1
  21. Walking Shadow (1994) ISBN 0-425-14774-6
  22. Thin Air (1995) ISBN 0-425-15290-1
  23. Chance (1996) ISBN 0-425-15747-4
  24. Small Vices (1997) ISBN 0-425-16248-6
  25. Sudden Mischief (1998) ISBN 0-425-16828-X
  26. Hush Money (1999) ISBN 0-425-17401-8
  27. Hugger Mugger (2000) ISBN 0-399-14587-7
  28. Potshot (2001) ISBN 0-425-18288-6
  29. Widow's Walk (2002) ISBN 0-425-18904-X
  30. Back Story (2003) ISBN 0-425-19479-5
  31. Bad Business (2004) ISBN 0-399-15145-1
  32. Cold Service (2005) ISBN 0-399-15240-7
  33. School Days (2005) ISBN 0-399-15323-3
  34. Hundred-Dollar Baby (2006) ISBN 0-399-15376-4
  35. Now and Then (2007) ISBN 0-399-15441-8
  36. Rough Weather (2008) ISBN 0-399-15519-8
  37. Chasing the Bear: A Young Spenser Novel (2009) ISBN 0-399-24776-9
  38. The Professional (2009) ISBN 0-399-15594-5
  39. Painted Ladies (2010) ISBN 0-399-15685-2
  40. Untitled Spenser Holiday Novel (2010) ISBN 0-399-15686-0

Jesse Stone novels

Also see Jesse Stone novels

  1. Night Passage (1997) ISBN 0-425-18396-3
  2. Trouble in Paradise (1998) ISBN 0-515-12649-7
  3. Death in Paradise (2001) ISBN 0-399-14779-9
  4. Stone Cold (2003) ISBN 0-425-19874-X
  5. Sea Change (2006) ISBN 0-399-15267-9
  6. High Profile (2007) ISBN 0-425-20609-2
  7. Stranger In Paradise (2008) ISBN 0-399-15460-4
  8. Night and Day (2009) ISBN 0-399-15541-4
  9. Split Image (2010) ISBN 0-399-15623-6

Sunny Randall novels

  1. Family Honor (1999) ISBN 0-399-14566-4
  2. Perish Twice (2000) ISBN 0-399-14668-7
  3. Shrink Rap (2002) ISBN 0-515-13620-4
  4. Melancholy Baby (2004) ISBN 0-399-15218-0
  5. Blue Screen (2006) ISBN 0-425-21598-9
  6. Spare Change (2007) ISBN 0-399-15425-6

Philip Marlowe novels

  1. Poodle Springs (1989). A completion of Raymond Chandler's last, unfinished, novel. ISBN 0-425-12343-X
  2. Perchance to Dream (1991). A sequel to Chandler's novel The Big Sleep. ISBN 0-425-13131-9

Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch westerns

  1. Appaloosa (2005) ISBN 0-425-20432-4
  2. Resolution (2008) ISBN 0-399-15504-X
  3. Brimstone (2009) ISBN 0-399-15571-6
  4. Blue-Eyed Devil (2010) ISBN 0-399-15648-8

Other fiction

  • Wilderness (1979) ISBN 0-440-19328-1
  • Love and Glory (1980) ISBN 0-440-14629-1
  • Surrogate (1991) A short story published in the crime magazine New Crimes 3 ISBN 0-8818-4737-2
  • All Our Yesterdays (1994) ISBN 0-440-22146-3
  • Gunman's Rhapsody (2001) ISBN 0-425-18289-4
  • Double Play (2004) ISBN 0-399-15188-5
  • Edenville Owls (2007) ISBN 0-399-24656-8
  • The Boxer and the Spy (2008) ISBN 0-399-24775-0


  • Sports Illustrated Training with Weights (with John R. Marsh) (1974) ISBN 1-568-00032-4
  • Three Weeks in Spring (with Joan H. Parker) (1982) ISBN 0-395-26282-8
  • A Year At The Races (with Joan H. Parker) (1990) ISBN 0-670-82678-2
  • Spenser's Boston (with Kasho Kumagai) (1994) ISBN 1883402506 ISBN 978-1883402501


Parker died suddenly of a heart attack, sitting at his desk in Cambridge, Massachusetts on January 18, 2010. He was 77.[2][5][23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Robert B. Parker at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ a b c "'Spenser' novelist Robert Parker dies in Cambridge". Boston Herald. Associated Press. 2009-01-19. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  3. ^ See Discussion Page
  4. ^ Geherin, David (c1980). Sons of Sam Spade: the private-eye novel in the 70s: Robert B. Parker, Roger L. Simon, Andrew Bergman. Ungar. ISBN 0804422311. 
  5. ^ a b Bryan Marquard (January 19, 2010). "Mystery novelist Robert Parker dies at 77". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  6. ^ Patricia Sullivan (January 20, 2010). "Crime novelist, Spenser creator Robert B. Parker dies at 77". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  7. ^ "His Spenser Novels Saved Detective Fiction" by Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal [1]
  8. ^ "Robert B. Parker left a mark on the detective novel" by Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times [2]
  9. ^ a b c d e Robert B. Parker biography from
  10. ^ Bruce Weber (January 20, 2010). "Robert B. Parker, the Prolific Writer Who Created Spenser, Is Dead at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  11. ^ Jules Older (October 2003). "Robert B. Parker 2003 Interview". Yankee Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  12. ^ Robert B. Parker FAQ Bullets and Beer
  13. ^ a b c d e Author Profile: Robert B. Parker from
  14. ^ Christina Nunez. "Robert B. Parker Biography". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  15. ^ Parker's son, David, played Farrell in the TV adaptation of Small Vices [3]
  16. ^ See nearly the entire Spenser series for Hawk, whose prominence in the plots increases with each book; for Chollo, Stardust, Pot Shot, and Now and Then; Cold Service features Ukrainian and Russian mobsters; and Walking Shadow, which explores Chinese tongs and includes a Chinese-American translator named Mei Ling who has a relationship with Hawk; see Chance for Gino Fish, who also crosses over into the first Jesse Stone novel.
  17. ^
  18. ^ This was adapted to film in 2008 by Ed Harris, starring Harris (who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay), Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons
  19. ^ The Tennessean, 8 March 2009, Arts & Entertainment, p. 11
  20. ^ "Edgars" database search for "Grand Master" award at the Mystery Writers of America's website . Retrieved February 2009.
  21. ^ Robert B. Parker Award page from IMDb
  22. ^ database [4]. Retrieved February 2009.
  23. ^ Bryan Marquard (January 20, 2010). "'Spenser' novelist Parker dead at 77". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 20, 2010. 

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