Robert B. Parker? Who’s putting the words in Spenser’s mouth?

Test your knowledge of the Boston gumshoe.

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?


“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.”


“He appeared to be patting you on the hip,” I said.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“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.”


“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.”



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


“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 helpus. The people I’ve talked to would have trouble finding Rin Tin Tin at a cat show.”


[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.”



1. Ace Atkins, from Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby, 2012

2. Robert B. Parker, from God Save the Child, 1974

3. Parker, from Looking for Rachel Wallace, 1980

4. Parker, from A Catskill Eagle, 1985

5. Atkins, from Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland, 2013

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of