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As "Chance" begins our hero is "in the bucks," which means that when mobster Julius Ventura shows up to hire Spenser to find his missing son-in-law, our hero has nothing better to do. Of course Ventura and his daughter Shirley are not telling the entire truth about Anthony Meeker. Then things get interesting. Marty Anaheim, the right-hand man of Gino Fish, Ventura's main opponent, has Spenser tailed. Vinnie Morris is working with Fish, who has no idea what Marty is up to. But when it turns out that Phony Tony's big dream is to break the bank at Las Vegas, our hero heads off with Susan Silverman and Hawk.
This novel has volcanoes erupting outside of hotel windows, and Susan wearing boots. Ultimately, "Chances" is one of the most convoluted cases Spenser has ever worked, which is what is to be expected when you have mobsters in love and a power struggle in Beantown. Consequently, there are cameo appearances by several notable supporting characters from recent novels. Anyhow, every revelation regarding Meeker and his tangled web only complicates matters further and, of course the point comes in the case where Spenser's interests diverge from that of the man who hires him, and for most of the novel Spenser and Hawk are trying to figure out what is going on, what they want to do about it, and, most importantly, who they are doing it for.
All of these issues will be resolved, but pretty much at the last minutes. "Chance" has all of the essential elements of a Spenser mystery and is an enjoyable read, an above-average novel in the series. Oh, and by the way--despite the nice image of the wounded dice, the game of choice in this novel is blackjack, although watching Susan play is quite painful.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2009
I re-read this in forty-eight hors while waiting for a new book order to arrive, and I was just as confused as before about who was double-crossing whom, hence the reluctant deduction of a star.. Never mind, I devoured it with the same voracious pleasure as I have derived from every Spenser novel.

No need to re-rehearse the plot (even if I could), but as I have eulogised elsewhere about Parker's gift with dialogue let me lift a few lines from Chance to show the immaculate timing with a punch line. Spenser and Susan are in Las Vegas, looking for a runaway husband without success.

'But Susan did locate something called the fashion mall, down past Treasure Island.

'"Maybe they have a Victoria's Secret in there. You could buy one of those seductive floral nighties."

'"You know I don't wear nighties," Susan said. "We've known each other for a long time now. It's okay, I think, for you to see me naked."

'"Oh good," I said.

'"But not right here," Susan said.

'"Give with one hand, take with the other," I said.'

And - following that example - can I groan about the (supposed) picture of Spenser on the back cover? It comes I think from the ill-starred television series. Now I know the physical appearance of fictional characters can only be in the eye of the reader but this cannot be Spenser. Nor can the animal he has on a leash be Pearl the Wonder Dog - a dog who is frightened by gunshots!
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on 14 April 2015
This story is one of the most convoluted Spenser novels. One of the major figures of organized crime in the Boston area hires Spenser to locate the husband of his only daughter, but only after Hawk turned him down. While Spenser agrees to take the job, it is clear that he is not hearing the entire story. The missing man is Anthony Meeker, and once Spenser starts his probe, he learns that Anthony, "is as dumb as a rake handle." People who have encountered Anthony refer to him as "phony Tony", and it doesn't take long for Spenser to realize that Anthony was a bag man who carried out money transfers between crime groups. It is also obvious that Tony skimmed some of the money, as he announced that he had a system to beat Las Vegas and when he got back he would be worth a fortune.
Spenser and Hawk then depart for Vegas and learn that there is a lot of genetic material being exchanged between various wives and husbands. They also learn that there is a budding turf war about to erupt among the various leaders of the organized crime groups in the Boston area. Joe Broz, an old adversary of Spenser's and the major crime boss, is retiring and he has no worthy heir. Therefore, many of the players are running duplicitous ploys against each other, jockeying for position. Spenser even has a frank discussion with Joe Broz about what is going on.
Of course, Spenser and Hawk finally determine what is actually going on and Spenser finds a way to make sure the guilty parties are punished. The story is a little bit difficult to follow at times, simply because there are so many persons and groups of interest. The dialog is not as crisp or humorous as it is in the best Spenser novels, but it is quite good. This is also the book that introduces Bernard J. Fortunato, a Vegas private investigator who reappears as a Spenser ally in a later story.
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As "Chance" begins our hero is "in the bucks," which means that when mobster Julius Ventura shows up to hire Spenser to find his missing son-in-law, our hero has nothing better to do. Of course Ventura and his daughter Shirley are not telling the entire truth about Anthony Meeker. Then things get interesting. Marty Anaheim, the right-hand man of Gino Fish, Ventura's main opponent, has Spenser tailed. Vinnie Morris is working with Fish, who has no idea what Marty is up to. But when it turns out that Phony Tony's big dream is to break the bank at Las Vegas, our hero heads off with Susan Silverman and Hawk.
This novel has volcanoes erupting outside of hotel windows, and Susan wearing boots. Ultimately, "Chances" is one of the most convoluted cases Spenser has ever worked, which is what is to be expected when you have mobsters in love and a power struggle in Beantown. Consequently, there are cameo appearances by several notable supporting characters from recent novels. Anyhow, every revelation regarding Meeker and his tangled web only complicates matters further and, of course the point comes in the case where Spenser's interests diverge from that of the man who hires him, and for most of the novel Spenser and Hawk are trying to figure out what is going on, what they want to do about it, and, most importantly, who they are doing it for.
All of these issues will be resolved, but pretty much at the last minutes. "Chance" has all of the essential elements of a Spenser mystery and is an enjoyable read, an above-average novel in the series. Oh, and by the way--despite the nice image of the wounded dice, the game of choice in this novel is blackjack, although watching Susan play is quite painful.
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In Chance, you will meet the least trustworthy group of double-dealers you can ever imagine. They won't tell Spenser what's really going on and switch allegiances at the drop of a hat. Just when you think you know what will happen next, the plot switches off into an unexpected direction.
Anthony Meeker, the biggest rat of them all, will keep you fascinated by raising the age-old question of what some women see in the men they marry.
Compared to most Spenser stories, this one has twice the plot. It's also filled with the usual entertaining by-play among Spenser, Hawk and Susan.
If you're like me, you won't be able to put this entertaining story down after starting it.
Take a Chance! You'll find it irresistible!
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on 31 March 2015
Although long and complex this part of the Spenser series using a mix of old and new characters is one of the best without too much of the lover's chitchat with Susan that overloads many of the earlier tales.
Well worth buying.
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on 22 April 2014
An exciting read. The swearing prevents me lending it to my aunt who is 84! but I appreciate that this is how people speak these days so it's not a problem for me. Each novel is different and I can't read enough of them. Great.
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on 23 January 2014
Thoroughly enjoyable. Amazon should pay a fair rate of UK taxes. We are not Americans and our culture regarding local taxes is different. We want to use Amazon but we object to tax dodgers. If you want to stay...
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on 2 February 2014
the Spencer series has it all - strong funny never looses PI with even stronger enigmatic side kick and kooky girlfriend - other players run to form - unusual and entertaining! very easy but enjoyable reads
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on 30 November 2015
Great entertainment. Quick and smart dialogue and references to literature interesting. Robert Parker always has quotes for which one must be on the lookout.
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