Series Spenser
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date 1996
Media type hardcover
ISBN 0-399-14134-0
Preceded by Thin Air
Followed by Small Vices

Dedication: "Joan: Every town is Paris; every month is May" (See Annotation below)

Taken from the book jacket of the hardcover edition

The search for a Mafia princess's errant spouse lands Spenser--"one of detective fiction's best hard-boiled gumshoes" (People)--on the firing line in a gangland turf war.

Once again, Robert B. Parker makes artfulness look easy, with Chance, his sensational new thriller. This time Spenser--the tough-but-tender sleuth whose passion for justice repeatedly plunges him into a sea of trouble--hires out on a marital matter whose attached strings entangle him with the Mob.

When big-time Boston hoodlum Julius Ventura approaches Spenser and his redoubtable sidekick, Hawk, about locating his only daughter's missing husband, it's clear he's not telling them the whole truth about the blushing bride and the ardent groom. In fact, he may be lying. But something about these missing links appeals to Spenser, and he agrees to take the case.

So begins an odyssey into the netherworld of disorganized crime: from the throne rooms of crime lords to the Vegas strip; from two-bit wiseguys with a genius for dangerous liaisons to gangsters' molls in jeopardy; from larceny to homicide. And that's just for openers. All too soon, it becomes clear that what's at stake is not young love, but control of gangland Boston. Spenser and Hawk find themselves dead-center in a circus of violence whose shadowy ringmaster is all too familiar to a private eye with a past.

Set against the bright lights and seamy side streets of Las Vegas, Parker's latest novel proves hat "he can still create characters who live and dialogue that talks" (The New York Times Book Review).

Robert B. Parker is the author of more than twenty-seven books, including the recent Spenser bestsellers Thin Air and Walking Shadow. He lives in Boston.

[I wonder if Hawk would appreciate being referred to as a "sidekick" -ed]

Recurring CharactersEdit

  • Susan travels to Vegas with Spenser, and as always is there when he needs moral support (and an outlet for his throbbing sexual urges).
  • Hawk spends a great deal of time with Spenser in this story, following him to Vegas as well as assisting him around Boston while looking for Bibi Anaheim.
  • Henry Cimoli pops up briefly, during the usual workout at the Harbor Health Club, and participates in an interesting discussion about firepower.
  • Lennie Seltzer, that prince among Bookies, is consulted by Spenser on Anthony's (poor) gambling habits.
  • Pearl the wonder dog continues her quest for that elusive killer Zagnut wrapper.
  • Vinnie Morris is doing bodyguard duty for Gino Fish, whose path crosses with Spenser's once or twice in the story.
  • BPD Lt. Martin Quirk is mentioned a couple of times, but never seen.
  • Chollo has a phone call or two with Spenser involving the elusive Bibi Anaheim in the city of the Angels.
  • LAPD Detective Samuelson is mentioned briefly, but we never see him.
  • Tony Marcus is mentioned briefly, but we never actually meet him.
  • Mei Ling Shen acts as a translator for Spenser and Fast Eddie Lee.
  • Fast Eddie Lee appears again as the leader of the Kwan Chang tong, and helps explain to Spenser the current status of crime control in Boston.
  • BPD Sgt. Frank Belson appears briefly regarding Spenser's attack by (and subsequent disposal of) two Russian Mafia gunmen.
  • Joe Broz, the original crime lord of Spenser's Boston, appears briefly, to explain the current state of things, much the way Fast Eddie Lee does.
  • Gerry Broz, Joe's (useless) son, is mentioned briefly, but never seen.
  • BPD Detective Lee Farrell is mentioned briefly, but never seen (seems to be a lot of those this story).

Unanswered QuestionsEdit

  • Probably the most obvious question that comes to mind is: Who was the unnamed woman in the prologue? Since the first woman you see in the story is Shirley Ventura, you might be inclined to think it's her, especially with the "Bruise on her cheek where her father hit her" bit, and we know Julius Ventura is a strong person, and presumably capable of violence (he did want to kill Anthony after all).
Still, it's pretty obvious that even though Shirley's a nitwit and Ventura gets irritated by that, he still dotes on his only daughter, so chances are she's not the one. That leaves two other women: Dixie Walker and Bibi Anaheim. It's doubtful that it's Dixie, since the man is mentioned as being strong, and the only man she mentions in her story is Anthony, who is never described as being muscular.
That leaves Bibi Anaheim, or more accurately, Bibi Costa. We never meet her father, but she does have a small scar on her cheek, and it's possible that the "bruise" she got from her father never fully healed. Her current lover is Anthony, who is neither muscular nor strong. So the man (note the capitalization when she refers to him, as though she holds him in awe) is most likely not him. My guess is that we are seeing Bibi Costa when she is still in (or just out of) high school, and she has just met Marty Anaheim. A nightclub is mentioned, possibly the one she went to where she wouldn't be carded (Chapter 22). She mentions finding him exciting where everyone else found him scary, and there are a few other hints here and there that seem to point to this.
Anyway, that's my guess. It's open for debate, but there you go.
  • Mike did a fine analysis there but here is how I broke it down:
  • The person from whose viewpoint the story is told is a redhead.
  • Bibi is a redhead. In this scene she is a teenager who has yet to meet anyone, but the fantasy of her future is quite clear. You can almost hear "Some Enchanted Evening" playing in the background, along with "The Best of all Possible Worlds."
  • Parker is perhaps being a bit cynical about how real life tends to treat our fantasies, and throwing her dreams in harsh contrast to reality.
  • Shirley is a blond of very-little-brains who couldn't fantasize past the next staircase.
  • Lennie is mentioned as being in "his usual booth at the Tennessee Tavern on Mass Ave." (Chapter 4). The last time we saw him (in Playmates) he was in the Yorktown tavern. Was the tavern renamed? Did Lennie get kicked out of his old haunt? What? And when did Spenser stop drinking the shot?

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

The significance of the dedication: "Joan: Every town is Paris; every month is May" - I never thought to look this up but Frank G Wilkes wrote in to say: "I was listening to an oldies radio station the other day and heard a song I am not familiar with. Didn't even catch the whole song, but the part I did hear rang a bell. The song was When Joanna Loved Me sung by Tony Bennett. The song ends with the words 'When Joanna loves me, every day is Paris on Sunday. Every month is May.'"

Exactly so. Written by Robert Wells and Jack Segal, Tony Bennett rode it to #93 on the charts in 1964. See Lyrics. Also poke around Miscellaneous for why this is a good reflection on the history of the Parker marriage.

Chapter 1:

  • "Evelina" - Dennis Tallett writes: "The song from the Broadway show "Bloomer Girl" (1944) with Celeste Holm and David Brooks." See Lyrics

Chapter 2:

  • "Death before dishonor" - Probably attributed to Horace in his Odes, book IV [13 B.C.] ode ix, line 45: "It is not the rich man you should properly call happy, but him who knows how to use with wisdom the blessings of the gods, to endure hard poverty, and who fears dishonor worse than death, and is not afraid to die for cherished friends or fatherland."
  • "Frailty, thy name is woman." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, scene 2.

Chapter 3:

  • "jump around and say beep beep" - Probably an allusion to the road runner of Bugs Bunny / Looney Tunes fame. Does that make Hawk or Spenser Wile E. Coyote?
  • "All work and no play [makes Jack a dull boy]" - James Howell, Proverbs [1659].

Chapter 6:

  • The Nicholas Brothers - Dennis Tallett writes: "The NICHOLAS BROTHERS (Fayard and Harold) African-American acrobatic tap dancers on Broadway, "Babes in Arms"(1937) and then movies including "Sun Valley Serenade" (1942), "Stormy Weather"(1943), "The Pirate" (1948). Ref. Haliwell's Filmgoer's Companion. They appeared in 1996 on video "Swing Alive" shown on PBS." Ken Taubenfeld further noted: "There's some amazing clips of them in the movie compilation "That's Dancing", and their appearance in the movie "The Pirate" was the result of Gene Kelly's insistence that they be included despite their color. Kelly recognized genius when he saw it, and these guys were dancing geniuses. Only a detective like Spenser would have a reference to these little remembered phenoms."
  • "Obedient, cheerful, thrifty...brave, clean, reverent" - Facets of the Boy Scout law (and Hawk calls him an Eagle scout afterward).

Chapter 8:

  • "She didn't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing." - As Arthur Martin points out: "A paraphrase of a line in Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Supposedly the political group the Weathermen took their name from the song." Yes indeed. See Lyrics

Chapter 9:

  • "Chester the Molester" - a rather off-color cartoon shown monthly in Hustler magazine (a rather off-color adult magazine that makes Playboy and Penthouse look positively celibate by comparison, although Penthouse has been creeping up on Hustler lately). The question here is how often does Spenser go flipping through Hustler? OK, I'll admit I've read the magazine more than once, although to tell you the truth I prefer Penthouse (it's a lot classier, although being classier than Hustler isn't saying much, I'll admit). Oh sure, I read the articles...after I've looked at the women. I'm man enough to admit it.
  • At any rate, Chester the Molester did exactly that...molest things. In Chapter 8 Shirley mentions that Anthony would "fuck a snake if you'd hold it for him." Well, that's Chester. Enough said.

Chapter 10:

  • "Frappés" - The perfect things to order with hamburgers or fried clams. Fellow southern New Englander George Waller reminded me to tell you outsiders that it's what we call a milk shake around these parts [as he put it: "no accent on the last e, pronounced FRAP"]. Just be glad Spenser isn't a Rhode Islander or he would have referred to a cabinet, for reasons I've never worked out. See
  • "Just the facts, ma'am." - Iain Campbell notes that this is "from the old police procedural TV show, Dragnet." Jack Webb played Sgt. Joe Friday, starting on radio in 1948 and on TV from 1952 to 1959 and 1967 to 1970. Talk about a wooden performance; compared to this guy Al Gore came across as Robin Williams starting on his second 8-ball.
  • "Wife's his ticket to ride." - Iain Campbell points out that RBP, Spenser, and Hawk are not noted as Beatles fans, but if this is an earlier slang term for someone getting a free ride off of someone else we have not been able to find it. Ticket to Ride is a track from the 1965 Beatles album Help! See Lyrics

Chapter 11:

  • "The thrill of defeat" - Probably a play on "The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat," which was, I believe, the slogan for "The Wide World of Sports" a few years back, when Howard Cosell hosted it. It might have also been used in one of the Olympics; I'm not really sure. But since Spenser's a sports fan at heart, this is probably what he had in mind...
  • For many years the show opened with an announcer intoning "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition. This is ABC's Wide World of Sports!" The film clip illustrating defeat was Yugoslavian Vinko Bogah careening down a ramp during the International Ski Flying Championship in Oberstdorf, West Germany. He got a concussion from that nasty fall, but continued to ski competitively and does some coaching today.

Chapter 12:

  • "Vinnie thinks flippant is the name of a dolphin." - Iain Campbell noted that I should include an explanation here. The dolphin in question was "Flipper."
  • In the 1963 movie Chuck Conners and Luke Halprin were cast as Porter Ricks and his son Sandy, who had a meaningful relationship with the titular star. Skillful editing made the aquatic mammal seem to be the most intelligent member of the cast. A TV series followed which ran from 1964-1967 with Brian Kelly as the father and Luke reprising his role as the cute kid who was saved by his dolphin pal as often as Timmy was saved by Lassie a decade earlier. In 1996 a new "Flipper" movie was made with box-office giant Paul Hogan as Porter and Elijah Wood as Sandy. Luke Halprin had a bit part as a local fisherman. I got most of this information from (Elijah Wood currently stars as Frodo Baggins in the greatest three part movie of all time, The Lord of the Rings. IMHO.)
BTW thanks to Verge (AKA Cliff) for pointing out the I'd originally typed "Brian Keith" above as the father in the original series. Mr. Keith of course starred in the 1960's sitcom "Family Affair." I blame my keyboard for the mistake, but somewhere in the background Sigmund Freud holds my coat and snickers.

Chapter 16:

  • "The rude bridge that arched the [artificial] flood." - A play on Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson. See Lyrics

Chapter 19:

  • "launch a thousand ships and burn the topless towers of Ilium" - See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 21:

Chapter 23:

  • "Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And--what is more--you'll be a Man, my son!" - It was indeed Rudyard Kipling. The poem is entitled If and is from the children's book Rewards and Fairies, published in 1910, a sequel to Puck of Pook's Hill, concerning two children taken on adventures by the fairy Puck. The quote is from stanza 4. (Thanks to Iain Campbell for leading me to rewrite Mike's original notation.) See Poetry
  • Useless trivia: This quote was used in an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer's dad comes into a lot of money and decides to gamble it in hopes of making more money to give to charity. The end comes down to one, Homer pulls the money away just in time, before Abe loses to the house 00 number. Whew!
  • "You often been a headache...but Babe, you never been a bore." - Arthur Martin points out that this is from Bob Hope's theme song. Parker also used it for the dedication to Small Vices. It's from the original lyrics to Thanks for the Memory, a 1938 Academy Award winner for Best Song from the movie The Big Broadcast of 1938. Bob Hope used it as his theme song for several decades. See Lyrics

Chapter 27:

  • "No cloud without a silver lining" - Hisao Tomihari pointed out another use of this one. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 31:

  • Molly Pitcher - one of the great women in the American Revolution, who fought side by side with the men. Spenser is probably alluding to the eagle (America's symbol) and the red decor, very patriotic looking. Dennis Tallett writes: "Molly Pitcher born Mary Ludwig, married name Mary McCauley (1754?-1832). An American Revolution heroine but just a servant girl. However, during the Battle of Monmouth, NJ (28 June 1778), she carried water in pitchers around the battlefield to weary and wounded soldiers and earned the nickname of 'Molly Pitcher' and with her husband exhausted she manned the cannon through the rest of the battle. Whew! what a day it's been. After the War she went back to being a servant. (Ref. Webster's Biographical Dictionary.)

Chapter 32:

  • "No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks" - Most recently popularized in School's Out, a song written by Alice Cooper in the 70's. The rock and roll stations play it every June; it's become synonymous with summer vacation in the U.S. However, it's been around longer than that. Bill Muhr writes: "...I can remember singing it as I walked out of 2nd grade for the last time in 1949. I'm not sure Alice was even born then (g). He should probably get the credit for including it in a song, tho. I don't remember ever hearing it on the radio until AC used it." I think this is one of those old folk rhymes that have been around forever. I seem to remember my Mom mentioning that she used to sing it in elementary school back in the '20s.
Whatever. I'm an Alice Cooper fan so I included it on the Lyrics page.

Chapter 44:

  • "You'll never get me, you dirty rat" - Probably a tip of the hat to the old James Cagney gangster movies: "You dirty rat, you're the guy that killed my brother" and so forth. The fact that Spenser was trying to learn how to say it in Russian (presumably to shout at the Russian mob the next time they try to kill him) is classic. And just to round this out, Cagney claimed he never uttered that line in any of his movies; it's just an Urban Legend.

Chapter 45:

  • "He should have been flipping a silver dollar." - Arthur Martin noted that Spenser is comparing Joe Broz to the iconic image of George Raft as Guido Rinaldo in "Scarface" (1932).

Chapter 48:

  • "The road less traveled." - Iain Campbell pointed this one out. It's a variation of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. See Poetry

Chapter 49:

  • "Double the profits, double the fun." - George Waller wrote in to note that it's from an old television advertisement: "A take off of an ad for Wrigley brand chewing gum called "Doublemint." The jingle was "Double the pleasure, double the fun" and the actors were twins."

Chapter 50:

  • "'Shut up,' I explained." - This one is in the Notes section below but I added this line because Eph Konigsberg pointed out that it's a quote from the 1920 Ring Lardner short story "The Young Immigrants." I wrote it up in You Don't Say but I want to thank you for reminding me that it belongs here.

Chapter 51:

  • "Tomorrow, the world" - I'm familiar with the quote, but can't pin it down. It's from Mein Kampf by that well known dog lover, Adolf Hitler. "Today, Germany is ours, and tomorrow the world."
  • "I'm shocked," I said. "Shocked" - Hisao Tomihari wrote in to note the earliest use of the line from Casablanca. See Oft Quoted
  • Hasta la vista (note he didn't say "baby" afterward...Hawk apparently doesn't do Ahh-nuld) - Spanish, literally translates to "until the view," loosely it means "until I see you again" or something similar. Basically another way of saying goodbye.
  • "Deceit breeds deceit" - There are probably a million "[something] breeds [something]" out there, but the earliest (as far as I know) is from Sophocles's Ajax, line 522: "For kindness begets kindness evermore".

Chapter 52:

  • "Who was it who said there are no second acts in American life?" - Dennis Tallett wrote in to say it was:
  • "F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Last Tycoon but it is an unfinished novel and it appears in his NOTES that are found at the end of the book. The line stands alone and is nine lines from the end."

Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit

  • Spenser is trying to go decaf yet again. I think he's successful this time: "You doing decaf again?" "Sure. It's good for me....I like it" (Chapter 3). Of course, he's fooling no one with his reasons: "Course you do." Hawk, on the other hand, prefers Guatemalan Dark Roast (Chapter 6).
  • In other dietary changes, Spenser is "drinking club soda because in recent years beer in the middle of the day made me sleepy" (Chapter 23). A sad moment for beer lovers everywhere. If he ever swears off of beer entirely, we'll all be wearing black arm bands, and the flag will fly at half mast at the Sam Adams brewery.
  • Speaking of beer, here's this story's "Broo List":
  • Chapter 3: New Amsterdam Black and Tan, at the Tennessee Tavern with Lennie Seltzer (along with a shot of Irish whiskey). Lennie, however, has a Budweiser (no accounting for taste, I guess).
  • Chapter 10: Bud, at the Starlight Lounge. I'm surprised he didn't pick Heineken, but maybe that's because Bud is lighter. Who knows?
  • Chapter 40: Hawk drinks a 24-ounce can of Foster's lager (yum!) in Spenser's office (while Spenser sucks on a paper clip and looks on longingly).
  • After Spenser blew Gerry Broz's kneecap off and Vinnie Morris left Joe Broz (both events occurred in Pastime), Joe's heart just wasn't in the business anymore. He still maintains his control, but it's slowly slipping. Gino Fish "sort of filled the number-one slot when Joe Broz got old" (Chapter 9).
  • Vinnie, however, works for Gino Fish now (mostly bodyguard work). He states Gerry as his reason for leaving Joe: "Kid's in the way" (Chapter 12).
  • To clarify a bit more, since Broz retired, four people have pretty much taken over (Chapter 37): Julius Ventura (for whom Spenser is currently working....well, sort of), Gino Fish, Tony Marcus, and Fast Eddie Lee. Tony Marcus still runs his business from inside prison (Chapter 34), where Spenser put him in Double Deuce.
  • However, his hold is tenuous, at best: "'He has left a weak caretaker [in Tarone Jessup], which is wise, Mr. Lee says, because strong caretakers become owners. But that weakness invites others, and since Mr. Marcus went to prison there has been a shifting of the stones in the sack'" (Chapter 37). Who exactly will end up with Tony's empire is still an unknown. Jessup got whacked before the end of the book. Tony is eventually released and appears in Sudden Mischief, two books later, still in charge.
  • However, Joe is trying to at least salvage something of this whole thing by dealing with the Russian mob, who are coming up from New York (Chapter 45). He won't cede the business over to them, but he will act as a "consultant" to them when needed. In return, they leave him alone. Whether this works out satisfactorily in the future remains to be seen, but for now it certainly makes things interesting... Hawk has some connections in Vegas, due to some favors he did a few people while in Cuba (Chapter 14). [Now that must be an interesting story). -ed]
  • Susan's getting kinkier. Cowboy boots...and nothing else? (Chapter 18) I like it. At least we know Spenser and I think alike... :-)
  • Spenser has now confirmed for us that if Susan ever left him again (or, even worse, something happened to her), then bad things would happen. He admits to himself (and to us) that he turns into a different person when Susan is not around, and that person, while not necessarily a bad person, is "no one I wanted to be all the time" (Chapter 19).
  • Is Spenser changing for the 90's? What's this: honesty? "I turned to one of Spenser's rules. When in doubt tell the truth. It was a brand new rule, and it might be worth testing" (Chapter 27). [A word of advice might be to make sure the person you're testing it on is more receptive to honesty than a psychopath like Marty Anaheim, especially when he's got a punch like a sledgehammer. -ed]
  • And look! A car phone, too (Chapter 32). I wonder if he's gotten so modern as to be using a hand-held cellular, or if it's one of those fully-mounted ones (the hand-held ones can be so, well, handy at times.
  • Spenser and Susan's work on the house in Concord is nearly finished. At the moment they just seem to be using it for a getaway place (Chapter 52).
  • In chapter 42 Susan notes "she (Pearl) likes to hurry." Iain Campbell notes: "Interesting that Pearl should exhibit one of the facets of Susan's character that mystifies Spenser."

Favorite LinesEdit

Chapter 1: Smile when you say that

"'Anyone ever actually faint when you were giving them the hard stare?' I said.
Ventura didn't answer. He kept looking at me.
'You know, sort of gasp with terror,' I said, 'and slide down in the chair and let their head fall sideways with their tongue hanging out? Like this?'"

Chapter 2: What I wouldn't give to see this slogan on a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal...

"'I'm in the business of selling brains and balls,' I said. 'And most people value the latter.'"

Chapter 3: Is it that, or Hawk's own black--er, never mind.

"In white script, across the front of the tee-shirt, was written, Yes, it's a black thing.
'Wow,' I said, 'militant.'
'Dating a B.U. professor,' Hawk said. 'Impresses the hell out of her.'"

Chapter 3: He looks that bad?

"Henry weighed 134 pounds, and 133 of it was muscle. He had gone twice with Willie Pep in his youth and done as well with Willie as I had with Joe Walcott. It showed on his face."

Chapter 7: How to make friends...

"Marty kept leaning forward. His two friends were looking at me too.
'I know you?' Marty said.
'Sure you do,' I said. 'I'm your hero. You want to be just like me.'
'That a wise remark?' Marty said.
'Yeah, I'm practicing on you, in case I meet somebody smarter.'"

Chapter 7: See, I do care about you

"Marty put his thick hand on my chest and shoved. I was supposed to stagger backwards. But I didn't. I rolled a little away from the shove and Marty's hand slid off my chest and Marty actually stagger a half step forward. He caught himself on the bar and tried to look like he hadn't staggered.
'You okay?' I said solicitously."

Chapter 8: Funny, that works with dorm food, too...

"'What's that pallard thing you ordered?' Shirley asked.
'Breast of chicken flattened with a mallet and quickly sautéed.'
'Sounds terrible,' she said.
'Drink enough wine,' I said, 'you'll think you like it.'"

Chapter 10: Memo to Trent Reznor: "Great idea new sound sample idea for the next nine inch nails album - grinding glass"

"There was heavy rock music playing. I didn't recognize it, but I didn't expect to. All rock music sounded to me like glass being ground."

Chapter 12: Aw, you did that on porpoise

"'Vinnie is not given to praise,' Fish said. 'So his regard for you is impressive.'
'Impresses the hell out of me,' I said.
'Vinnie also says you are inclined to flippant.'
'Vinnie thinks flippant is the name of a dolphin,' I said."

Chapter 15: Look, the pigs are flying south for the winter...

"'I'd like to try it,' Susan said.
'Anything. It sounds like fun.'
'You got a system?'
'Of course I do. You and Hawk tell me what to do.'
Hawk looked at me without expression.
'Be a first,' Hawk said."

Chapter 15: Life is just full of these little let-downs...

"'It's amazing that no matter how small women's bathing suits get, they still manage to cover all they're supposed to,' I said.
'Do I hear disappointment in your voice?' Susan said.

Chapter 19: That Yankee honk, it's so hard to tell apart from California surfer speak...

"Bob appeared with the check.
'You want to chahge it to your room?' he said. 'Or put it on a credit cahd.'
All three of us looked at him simultaneously. A song of home.
'You from Boston?' I said.
'Yeah, Dawchestah. How'd you know?'
'A wild guess,' I said.
When I signed the check, I overtipped Bob because he talked right."

Chapter 20: And it's cheaper than an ad in the yellow pages

"'This is Detective Cooper,' the gray-haired one said. 'I'm Detective Sergeant Romero, Las Vegas Police Department'
'You know I'm a famous detective, and you came here looking for crimestopper tips,' I said.
'Never heard of you,' Romero said, 'until we found your card at a crime scene.'
'Pays to advertise,' I said."

Chapter 20: Damn, Quirk never tells them the important stuff

"'How about Boston?' Romero said to Cooper.
'Talked to the Homicide commander,' Cooper said. 'Guy named Quirk. Says the hawkshaw is legit.'
'Just legit?' I said.
Cooper continued speaking to Romero as if I hadn't spoken, but there was a trace of humor at the corners of his mouth.
'Says he'll lie to you, he thinks it's a good idea. But he wouldn't rape or murder anyone.'
'Good to know,' Romero said.
'He say anything about brilliant?' I said. 'Or dauntless?'

Chapter 21: No doubt exercising that iron will to keep from laughing at Spenser's jokes...

"'Don't get sidetracked by the Wizard of Oz display,' I said.
'Be hard,' Hawk said, 'But ah does have a will of iron.'
'And a head to match,' I said
Hawk almost smiled as he left."

Chapter 30: And "REGNAD KCIN" would be a bit too obscure...

"I was in my office with my feet up studying the way my name looked backwards through the frosted glass window of my office door.
Maybe SPENSER ought to be in script. A nice flowing script might make me seem lovable, and would contrast nicely with INVESTIGATIONS, which would be in a bold, no-nonsense sans serif. Maybe some sort of motto would be good. WE DON'T SOLVE ANYTHING BUT WE GIVE OUR FEE AWAY."

Chapter 30: Your mileage may vary

"A box of donuts came out next, and two plastic coffee cups and two pale pink linen napkins.
'You bought donuts?' I said.
I wasn't aware you knew how.'
'I don't. But I watched the other people in line.'
I opened the box. Plain donuts. Perfect.
'Do you know how to eat a donut?' I said.
'I'll watch you on the first one,' Susan said.
She opened the thermos and poured two cups of coffee into the plastic cups. I ate half a donut.
'Ugh,' Susan said. 'Is that how it's done?'
'Girls sometimes take smaller bites,' I said.
'I certainly hope so,' Susan said."

Chapter 31: In which Hawk has some Really Deep ThoughtsTM

"'Thing about getting a place with a great view,' Hawk said, 'is, after you moved in and looked at the great view for a few days, you get used to it and it ain't a great view anymore. It just what you look at out your window.'
'You're a deep guy,' I said.
'And sensitive,' Hawk said. 'Maybe I should host a talk show.'
'Will you have me as a guest?' I said.
"Course not.'"

Chapter 32: Must take years to master...

"The school had no record of Beatrice Costa's address or Abigail Olivetti's. The secretary told me that in a way to indicated that the question was stupid.
'We are not running a clearinghouse here,' she told me.
'Probably more of a warehouse,' I said. 'May I use your phone book?'
She handed it to me, and turned back to her desk work with an audible sigh. It was clear that I had no real understanding of her importance, and the pressing nature of her work. Not everyone can file detention slips."

Chapter 36: Offer to give him your autograph. Then see what he says...

"We slowed. Cars behind me honked their horns.
'We're holding up traffic,' Dixie said.
'Take your time,' I said.
More horns. One driver pulled out around me and raced past me, tires screeching. As he passed he gave me the finger.
'He thinks I'm number one,' I said.
'There it is,' Dixie said.
I pulled in by a hydrant...The cars behind me gunned their engines in angry liberation as they passed me. I felt properly chastened."

Chapter 40: Happiness is relative

"'So we oh for two.'
'At best,' I said.
'Nice detective work though, found Anthony's love nest, found Bibi's high school chum.'
'Makes you proud,' I said. 'Doesn't it.'
'Make a nice slogan,' Hawk said. 'Missing? Don't want to be found? Call Spenser. Your secret is safe with us.'
'You haven't found anybody either,' I said.
'Yeah,' Hawk said. 'But I got a lobster sandwich.'
'Good point.'"

Chapter 43: So there.

"'You let one get away?' Hawk said.
'Plus the drivers of the two getaway cards, whom you, of course, would have run down on foot.'
'And bitten their heads off,' Hawk said."

Chapter 44: If you want me, I'll be hiding under the bed

"I was at my desk trying to learn how to say 'you'll never get me, you dirty rat,' in Russian.
'You got a plan yet?' Hawk said without looking up from his book.

'We could hide in here with the door locked, sleep in shifts.'

'I thought of that,' Hawk said.
The phone rang.
'Be nice if we could figure which anthill we stepped in,' I said.
'Yeah, be great, we could call them names while we sleeping in shifts.'
'We know who they are, we might know what to do.'
The phone rang again.
'Be a nice change,' Hawk said.
I nodded and picked up the phone.
'Da?' I said."

Chapter 46: Mind you, Dixie cups can be very nutritious...

"A stewardess with big blonde hair put a tray of food on my table. Her name tag read CHERYL. I took a bite. Hawk looked over as I chewed.
'What'd you get?' he said.
'Might be chicken,' I said. 'How about you?'
'They steamed the steak, just right,' Hawk said.
'You ever wonder why they don't just serve you couple nice sandwiches on an airplane,' he said. 'Stead of trying to microwave you a five-course meal that tastes like a boiled Dixie cup?'
'Often,' I said."

Chapter 49: The benefits of good debating skills...

"The rest of the way back to The Mirage, Hawk and I had a lengthy discussion as to who would tail Bibi in the morning and who would sleep in. My argument was that early rising was in his genes from all those ancestral generations of chopping cotton before the dew had faded. He felt that this was a racist stereotype. He decried racial stereotyping, and explained to me that I was a white-bread paddy with a plantation mentality. I argued that, being of Irish descent, I had no mentality at all, plantation or otherwise. And he insisted that no one was too stupid to be a bigot. He had me there, but I didn't admit it and when we got to The Mirage we stopped in the lobby and flipped a coin and he lost."


  • Chapter 3: Decaf and a croissant in the lounge at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
  • Chapter 6: Hawk brings coffee and donuts to the office. Spenser's is decaf.
  • Chapter 8: Paillard of chicken and salad at Ambrosia with Shirley.
  • Chapter 11: Chinese takeout at Susan's. Cashew chicken, rice, and peking ravioli's are mentioned.
  • Chapter 19: Steak and eggs and decaf in the hotel dining room. Hawk's coffee reeks of caffeine.
  • Chapter 22: Roman salad and decaf at the hotel.
  • Chapter 29: Decaf and a couple of bagels at the hotel.
  • Chapter 30: Susan brings a thermos of Decaf and a box of donuts to his office.
  • Chapter 33: Decaf and two plain donuts outside Abigail's house.
  • Chapter 43: Steak at the Capital Grill.
  • Chapter 46: An airline meal. It might have been chicken.
  • Chapter 50: Decaf with breakfast at the hotel.
  • Chapter 52: Baked beans and corn bread at the house in Concord. Venison chops soaked in red wine and rosemary. Bread pudding with whisky sauce to follow.


  • Chapter 4: Lennie Seltzer buys him a shot and a draft beer at the Tennessee Tavern. The beer is New Amsterdam Black and Tan. He leaves the shot.
  • Chapter 7: Orders a beer but doesn't drink it at Poochie's waiting for Marty to acknowledge him.
  • Chapter 8: Sterling Sauvignon Blanc at Ambrosia's. Shirley has most of two bottles.
  • Chapter 10: Bud at the Starlight lounge.
  • Chapter 16: A beer in the bar at the Mirage talking to Anthony.
  • Chapter 23: Club soda in the bar.
  • Chapter 45: Beer at the Capital Grill.
  • Chapter 46: Scotch and soda on the plane.
  • Chapter 52: Iron Horse champagne at the Concord house.


  • Like three other Spenser novels, Chance at one point shifts the point of view to the third person (as is discussed in depth back in the Questions section). This time it's really way out there. At any rate, this was also used in Crimson Joy, Double Deuce, and rather extensively in Thin Air.
  • Chapter 10: "There's a place in Connecticut the indians run" - That would be Foxwoods casino on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation, right near Lantern Hill in Ledyard, CT. It's about a half-hour drive from my apartment. Well, what do you expect? I'm Connecticut born and bred. RBP mentions it in one of his books; I gotta say something.
  • For what it's worth; Anthony would definitely want to go to Vegas instead of Foxwoods if he's had any gambling experience whatsoever. Foxwoods is a very nice casino, but the payout at Vegas is a lot better. To tell you the truth, the newer Mohegan Sun is a lot nicer, but that's my opinion.
  • RBP has a writing style that is quite consistent. A character recites a line and the notation is that he or she "said" it. No one ever "asked" or "intoned" or "snarled" in any of these books. Ever. That's why I found this single instance so hilarious: "Shut up," I explained. (Chapter 50, said to Anthony Meeker.)
  • Oops. When I wrote the above that was the only one I had noticed. Since then quite a few more have come to light. See the list at You Don't Say
  • Iain Campbell noted the concept "who owes who" between the tough guys as it relates to the code they all subscribe to, which has been slowly explored over most of the life of the series. His remarks form the beginning of a new page I call The Debts, which will require a lot more work.
  • Say What? Sam Farris noted an error that the producer of the Dove Audio tapes failed to pick up on:
  • In the audio for Chance, Burt Reynolds repeatedly says For_TUN_o instead of Fortun_AH_do.
  • Show me the money: For a change, he does get paid this time. And he gives it away.

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