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Robert B. Parker is dead. Long live Robert B. Parker!

When best-selling authors pass away, carrying on their characters is a huge risk. How the family of Spenser’s creator made it work.

The consensus among Spenser fans seems to be that Ace Atkins expertly captures Robert B. Parker’s style. In these five book excerpts, can you tell who’s putting words in the tough-talking gumshoe’s mouth? Is it Atkins or Parker?
  • “You Spenser?” asked the girl in the pink Red Sox cap.

    “The one and only.”

    “People say you’re tough,” she said.

    “Did they mention handsome and witty?”

    “That you aren’t afraid to use a gun.”

    “Only when my feelings get hurt.”

    Ace Atkins, from Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby, 2012
  • “He appeared to be patting you on the hip,” I said.

    “That’s why you came over.” Susan smiled and shook her head. “Were you prepared to defend my virtue?”

    “I’m in pursuit of it myself, and I don’t like poachers.”

    Robert B. Parker, from God Save the Child, 1974
  • “Oh, yes, the threats. Well, yes. That’s it essentially. We want you to protect her.”

    “Two hundred dollars a day,” I said.

    “And expenses.”

    “Expenses?”

    “Yeah, you know. Sometimes I run out of ammunition and have to buy more. Expenses.”

    Parker, from Looking for Rachel Wallace, 1980
  • “I understand,” she said. She took another whack of her Scotch. “Well, let’s get to work. How are we going to do this?”

    “I’m not sure,” I said. “But I know how we’re not. We’re not going to ask the feds to help us. The people I’ve talked to would have trouble finding Rin Tin Tin at a cat show.”

    Parker, from A Catskill Eagle, 1985
  • [Weinberg] jabbed a thumb at me and said, “What’s a nice Jewish shrink doing with a goy with a twenty-inch neck?”

    “Actually, it’s only nineteen and a half,” I said.

    “Would you believe he recites poetry?” Susan said. “He even appreciates art without prodding.”

    “No kidding,” Weinberg said. “Seriously. What about real art? You like Picasso?”

    “I prefer my guitars without noses.”

Sources: Northwestern Mutual, FINRA

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