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on 8 September 2006
"Hundred Dollar Baby" and "Dream Girl" have the same plot synopsis. It would appear that either one of the synopsis is wrong, or the book is being published in the USA and UK under different titles, and Amazon thinks they are different books.
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on 7 December 2007
What you get from Robert B Parker, and his hero private eye Spenser, is almost unique in modern crime fiction. While so many others offer noir pastiche or pulp fiction played for laughs, Parker unashamedly walks the same rain soiled streets that Hammett and Chandler did before him, without apologies.
Hundred Dollar Baby marks Parker's 34th Spenser novel and for his regular readers, of which I am proud to call myself one, the characters are all too well known. Unlike most detectives Spenser holds not one but two sidekicks, each serving a valuable purpose in highlighting the juxtaposition of his own character. Firstly there is Hawk, the embodiment of Spenser's macho side, reliable, imposing and most of all moral and then there is Susan Silverman, Spenser's long time partner in love and personal psychoanalyst. While Hawk allows Spenser to tread familiar private eye territory, Susan provides an outlet for Spenser's intellectual and thoughtful side, providing Parker an opportunity to philosophise in a way seldom seen in the pulp detective novel.
For this case Parker resurrects a number of characters from earlier novels. April Kyle (Ceremony & Taming A Sea Horse) walks back into Spenser's life. Despite appearing, at least on the surface, to have turned her life around, she again needs Spenser's help. But in this tale of deceit and exploitation, April turns out to be just another one of many willing to lie to Spenser to conceal the truth of what quickly becomes one of Parker's most shocking novels.
In a return to classic Spenser, the usual suspects appear more as cameos as our favourite gumshoe finds his detecting skills tested to the max. The gun is relegated to the desk drawer as this adventure finds a more cerebral Spenser than we have seen recently.
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on 9 June 2007
Robert B Parker has taken the proposition that less is more to an extreme unmatched in popular fiction. And I'm not talking about his prose style. In the last decade, his Spenser books have necessitated the deaths of countless fresh woods, if not pastures new, all in the interest of providing a plump dust jacket to tempt us readers. Hundred-Dollar Baby is better than most of the recent Spensers, but bringing back characters from the early novels serves to remind long-time readers of how much better the stories were when those characters first appeared.

Some of the books even had themes.

We met Patricia Utley, a particular favorite of mine, in Mortal Stakes, a book in which Parker explores the serious nature of work that seems to be play, ie baseball. The title, from a Robert Frost quote, references the conflict that arises between love and work in the lives of both a Red Sox pitcher and Parker's detective. That works out well enough, as does the plot, beset though it is by the early Spenser's tendency toward casual slaughter.

Utley crops up again a few novels later - still a hooker with a heart of platinum and an AmEx to match -- helping Spenser rescue the Florimel de jour, a young hooker named April. In Hundred-Dollar Baby, both women reappear. Everyone in this novel refers to the women as whores - Spenser, Susan, Hawk, the women themselves. This, presumably, shows us that no one is going to romanticize the oldest profession.

Indeed, no one but the hero-narrator gets romanticized in a Spenser novel. Nothing else is.

Spenser's insights into women always focus on their inadequacies. I cannot think of one single woman in all the series who has been presented as a successful person. Not even Rachel Wallace. We meet many successful and autonomous men - some in passing, some as reoccurring characters - but all of the women, however peripheral, lack something key: confidence, accomplishment, virtue, self-knowledge, insight. All but Susan, of course, Spenser's own personal Faerie Queene, to whom he makes perpetiual homage even as Parker occasionally forgets the color of her eyes. While venerating one woman entire, Parker praises bits and parts of many with faint damns. Parker has, in recent years, gone so far as to develop another set of novels in which to portray inadequate women full time: the Sunny Randall series. Here, too, Susan is set up as the Holy Grail of women; mere contact with her goes far (although never far enough) toward healing the damaged psyche of Sunny. But in Hundred-Dollar Baby, even Susan pronounces the female characters beyond help: too damaged.

But is there care in heaven?

Always, in a Spenser novel. And white space. The elegantly heavy paper used by the printer makes turning pages a pleasure, and the reader is constantly turning. A conversation between Spenser and Susan can run for five or six pages, without either speaking a full line of dialogue. Then there's a pristine white space before the next chapter.

If Mr Parker and his publisher could just have faith that we will continue to read, however formulaic and repetitive he becomes, legions of trees could flourish in anticipation of the next Michelle Spring or Deborah Crombie novel, for which they will not die in vain.

OK, so what about this novel? The title says it all.

and PS Dream Girl is the SAME BOOK.
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on 1 December 2010
this was a fantastic end to a story started 2 books ago it gives a final conclusion to the tale of a callgirl gaining the heights of a madam and then falling agiain untill her death
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on 19 December 2012
Another great novel in the Parker (Spencer) range.A good read.from an exeptional crime author,not packed with characters ,a very good
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on 15 October 2015
very good novel by brilliant author
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Ceremony is one of Robert B. Parker's best books in the Spenser series. In that book, Susan Silverman persuades Spenser to track down teenage runaway, April Kyle, and rescue Kyle from the gritty world of the street walker. Kyle didn't want to be rescued and that book ended with Spenser introducing Kyle to a madam in New York City, Patricia Utley, who promises to look after Kyle. Kyle breaks out of that life when she falls "in love" with a pimp during Taming a Sea-Horse. That book was pretty ordinary . . . and occasionally seemed like little more than an opportunity to wrap stylish dialogue around a superficial look at the sex trade. April Kyle is back again in Hundred-Dollar Baby as the madam for a Boston Back Bay mansion where suburban soccer moms do the horizontal for big bucks.

When April Kyle walks into Spenser's office to ask for his help, he doesn't recognize her. But she certainly gets his attention fast enough when Kyle asks him to get rid of some men who are disrupting her operation, which Ms. Utley helped her set up. Spenser and Hawk quickly dispatch some Andrew Square thugs . . . and begin to sense that things are not as they seem. Why would anyone bother to take over a low-profit operation like this one? Naturally, the motives are complex, twisted, and pathological. Susan opines from afar about Kyle's mental health while Spenser and Hawk spend most of the book on boring stakeouts.

Unless you really wanted to know more about how to be a successful madam (including recruiting those suburban soccer moms), there's nothing for you in this book. The story is mostly uninteresting. What does happen moves way too slowly. I felt like I was reading a short story that had been stretched beyond recognition. The ending is unbelievably bad . . . and unbelievable.

For the first time in my reviewing career of looking at Robert B. Parker's books, my advice is to skip this one. Only occasional glimpses of sparkling dialog provide any reward for the reader. Certainly, few will be enlightened by Parker's amoral defense of the expensive part of the sex trade. I felt the need to wash my hands of Parker's views on that subject after finishing the book.
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on 6 December 2014
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