Chasing the Bear (Young Spenser) Hardcover – 14 May 2009
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But what I found annoying was the inconsistencies with previous Spenser novels. Given that much of what's in here was drawn from 'Pastime', the 1991 novel in which Paul Giacomin's problems with his mother prompt Spenser to think about his own boyhood, it seems a little slack that this story doesn't gel with the reminiscences in 'Pastime'. For example, here the girl he befriends in school is Jeannie Haden, who he likes but doesn't love; in 'Pastime' it's Dale Carter, who he realises too late he does. Here he tells the story of leaving his father and uncles behind in Laramie, Wyoming, to take up a football scholarship in Boston; in 'Pastime', they all move to Boston when Spenser is 12 or 13, because his father believes its cultural atmosphere will be better for him. (And if Spenser wrecked his knee playing college football, how did he come to have a very-nearly-successful boxing career?). There are a few other niggles along these lines: what exactly are Spenser's uncles' names?
It's an undoubted pleasure to read a Robert B Parker and as ever, he provides enough wit to provide an enjoyable hour or two; it's definitely interesting to see his portrayal of the young Spenser and the early stages of the character traits we've come to know in the stories about his later life. But the inconsistencies here are just irksome enough to underscore that this is a slightly tacked-together effort and less of a success than it could have been.
However, although the writing is the usual high standard, there's simply not much content. Two of the four anecdotes making up the book have appeared in the Spenser novels already. There are 47 chapters, but only 169 pages (which include a lot of blank space).
If you have most (or all) of the Spenser novels, then you may like this just to fill out your collection. But it's easily the weakest book in the whole series.