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Spenser and Pearl Team Up to Find Out Why
on 4 October 2005
In School Days, there's not much mystery about who pulled off the ski-mask-garbed, murderous rampage at the up-and-coming Dowling School, a private day school in the oh-so-white suburbs. One perp was caught inside the building. He fingered another perp, who soon confessed. Both had been students at the school. So why is Spenser involved?
Lily Ellsworth is concerned about her grandson, Jared Clark, who is the student who confessed. Jared's parents seem to have hired an idiot to defend him, and no one seems to give the boy a chance. Since Lily is wealthy (at least she can afford a chauffeured Bentley), she can look into matters. She asks Spenser to prove Jared is innocent. Spenser agrees to do the best he can.
Spenser's investigation doesn't go very far. Most people just want to sweep the incident under the rug. Jared wants to pretend he's a tough guy.
To Spenser, the clues don't add up . . . why did the two do it?
In pursuing that trail, Spenser crosses some tough and not-so-tough characters, luscious women who want this body while Susan Silverman is out of town and annoying suburban types. The "why" remains hidden until near the end, helping to sustain a modest amount of suspense in what is a pretty pedestrian tale.
The book shines brightest in Spenser's wise cracking repartee, which is mostly lost of his companions.
The story comes across as more one dimensional than most as Spenser pursues the case without Hawk or Susan . . . but with more than a little coaching from the lusting top criminal attorney, Rita Fiore.
The humor works best when Spenser is trailing Pearl along with him while he conducts the investigation. But it's smile ... rather than ha, ha ... humor.
The new characters weren't terribly interesting so the verbal sparring didn't really add much to the book.
As usual, we get a nice dose of Spenser's sterling character. He keeps on the trail even after he's fired. He admires other women's shapes ... but stops at that.
If you like Spenser, read the book. But don't expect anything special.