Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker: R.I.P.

Ali Karim sends the sad news that Robert B. Parker has died suddenly at the age of 77, "just sitting at his desk" at home, according to his U.K. Publisher Quercus. "No illness."

I first met Robert B. Parker at the 1982 Bouchercon in 1982 in San Francisco. He did a great job as Guest of Honor. It was a small convention, and there was plenty of time to chat. He talked about his writing, his personal life, and his love of mysteries. Over the years, he continued to become even more more prolific, writing as many as three novels a year.

Robert B Parker, the author of Boston P.O. Spenser is often acknowledged as the Dean of American Crime Fiction. He began writing the popular Spenser novels in 1971. Spenser is a witty, literate, Scotch-drinking, ex-boxer, Korean War Vet, cooking detective who appeared in over 36 novels. For the complete list of the Spenser Series, go HERE. He also wrote the Sunny Randall Series and the Jesse Stone Series, as well as over a dozen stand-alone novels. The latest Spenser novel is The Professional (Putnam) Parker also wrote several non-fiction books and a Y.A. novel.

Read an Interview with Robert B. Parker, HERE.

Parker’s fictional Spenser inspired the ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire. In February 2005, CBS-TV broadcast the Jesse Stone novel Stone Cold. The second CBS movie, Night Passage, and the third, Death in Paradise, aired on April 30, 2006.

Parker was named Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America and the Gumshoe Award for Lifetime Achievement.

This news is very hard to process.

Sarah Weinman is updating her post on Robert B. Parker with tributes from blogs and websites. You can read this here.

Read Sarah Weinman's tribute in the LA Times HERE.

Mark Pratt, an AP Writer posted at noon on 1/19/10:

BOSTON (AP) — Robert B. Parker, the blunt and beloved crime novelist who helped revive and modernize the hard-boiled genre and branded a tough guy of his own through his "Spenser" series, has died. He was 77.
An ambulance was sent to Parker’s home in Cambridge on Monday morning for reports of a sudden death, said Alexa Manocchio, spokeswoman for the Cambridge police department.
Parker’s longtime agent, Helen Brant, said that the author’s widow, Joan, called her Monday right after finding him dead at his desk.
"They had had breakfast together Monday and he was perfectly fine," Brant said. "She went out to do her running and when she came back about an hour later, he was dead. We were in a complete state of shock and still cannot quite believe it."
Prolific to the end, Parker wrote more than 50 novels, including 37 featuring Boston private eye Spenser. The character’s first name was a mystery and his last name emphatically spelled with an "s" in the middle, not a "c." He was the basis for the 1980s TV series "Spenser: For Hire," starring Robert Urich.
Parker openly worshipped Raymond Chandler and other classic crime writers and helped bring back their cool, clipped style in the first "Spenser" novel, "The Godwulf Manuscript" from 1973. Within a few years, in "Looking for Rachel Wallace" and "Early Autumn," he was acclaimed as a master in his own right.
"Hard-boiled detective fiction was essentially dead in the early ‘70s. It was considered almost a museum thing," said Ace Atkins, author of "Devil’s Garden," "Wicked City" and several other novels. "When Parker brought out Spenser, it reinvigorated the genre. ... I wouldn’t have a job now without Robert Parker."
Robert Crais, known for his Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels, said Parker "opened the doors for everyone who came after."

Brant, Parker’s agent, said a private ceremony will take place this week to remember the author, and a public memorial, a "celebration of his life and work," is planned for mid-February in Boston.


Anonymous said...

I have been a fan of Robert B. Parker's since the 1970s, and at one time I owned a copy of every book he had written. I was lucky enough to attend a couple of his public lectures, and found him intelligent, funny, and patient with his fans. It was apparent to all of us that he loved what he did.
I will miss him. My heart goes out to Joan, and I hope she knows how much he meant to all of us.

Barbara said...

I'm devastated. I too am thinking of Joan and their sons.

Anonymous said...

I got to meet Mr. Parker at a dinner in his honor once in LA when I was working the Literary Review circuit and he was as funny and charming as I'd hoped. I also got a chance to meet the author that everyone is calling his successor (Curtis J Hopfenbeck - The Liquid City) last month and he and his prose would make Parker proud. Hopfenbeck even dedicates his book to Parker. If you want to support one of Parker's disciples, then you should definitely get his book(s), he is just as tough, funny and intelligent. And the fact that he himself is a huge Parker fan makes it all the more fun to read. My prayers and blessings to Joan and her sons, a nations shares their loss!