Mortal Stakes  
Series Spenser
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date 1975
Media type hardcover
ISBN 1-56849-317-7
Preceded by God Save the Child
Followed by Promised Land

Cover InformationEdit

"This too is for Joan, Daniel, and David."

From the cover of the paperback edition:

The Rabbs were a major-league success. Marty was the Boston Red Sox star pitcher. Linda loved her husband, her baby, her beautiful home, and the adulation of the fans. She loved everything about her life except the blackmailer who was trying to wreck it.

Spenser's job was to find out if Marty was throwing fast balls or throwing games. It didn't take long to find a link between Marty's performance and Linda's past ... or for Spenser to find himself trapped in a rundown between a crazed racketeer with a score to settle and a vicious enforcer toting an M 16. America's Favorite Pastime had suddenly become a very dangerous sport, and one wrong move meant strike three -- Spenser's out of the game for good.

Recurring CharactersEdit

  • Here we meet Patricia Utley for the first time. Patricia is the madam for a high-classed call house in Manhattan, with whom Spenser has later dealings (most notably in Ceremony and Taming a Sea Horse).
  • Belson and Quirk put in an appearance. They'll be around as long as there's death and it's in Boston...
  • We briefly see Brenda Loring (cf. The Godwulf Manuscript ), on a few dates with Spenser.
  • However, we also run into Susan Silverman as well (cf. God Save the Child ). This is probably the last time we see Spenser this, ah, promiscuous, as you'll see in the next novel.
  • We also meet Lennie Seltzer , a bookie who hangs out in the Yorktown Tavern all day. He shows up again in Playmates

Unanswered questionsEdit

  • Can we assume Bucky and Lester never troubled Spenser or Marty again? I would imagine Lester would be out for blood after the beating he took at the hands of Spenser. Then again, Spenser's beatings are pretty nasty, so maybe he just twitches hysterically whenever he hears Spenser's name. Who can tell?

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

Chapter 1:

  • "It was summertime, and the living was easy" - A reference to the song Summertime from the 1935 George and Ira Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess, in collaboration with DuBose Heywood and based on his 1925 novel Porgy. See Lyrics
  • "Ah, wilderness." - Hisao Tomihari noted the first appearance of this phrase. See Oft Quoted
  • "The Boys of Summer, The Summer Game" - Two books about, obviously, baseball. The first was written by Roger Kahn who worked for the New York Herald Tribune and deals with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The second is by Roger Angell who wrote for the New Yorker and is a collection of ten years worth of columns. Spenser mentioned The Summer Game one book back in God Save the Child.

Chapter 3:

  • "Whatever happened to Johnny Lindell?" - Johnny (1916-1985) played for the Yankees from 1941 to 1950. People tended to be a bit more clean cut in those days.
  • "Chesterfield Kings" - Jack Little was chain-smoking one of the classic cigarette brands. I ran across a couple of ads from 1941:"Chesterfields are made for smokers like yourself, with the three important things you want in a cigarette... MILDNESS, BETTER TASTE, and COOLER SMOKING. Chesterfield's right combination of the world's best cigarette tobacco has so many things a smoker likes... that Chesterfield is just naturally called the smoker's cigarette. THEY SATISFY.""A responsible consulting organization reports a study by a competent medical specialist and staff on the effects of smoking Chesterfields... 'It is my opinion that the ears, nose, throat and accessory organs of all participating subjects examined by me were not adversely affected in the six-months period by smoking the cigarettes provided.'"Steve Martin used to do a bit where he said "My doctor ordered me to start smoking; he said I wasn't getting enough tar." For those of you keeping score at home, it's 12 mg Tar and 0.9 mg Nicotine. Bon appetit.
  • "...Gotham on all the corners." - A poetic way of saying that the Yankees had the bases loaded. Dennis Tallett writes:
"Colloquial term and nickname for New York City, it first appeared in the humorous work Salmagundi by Washington Irving."

And as Simone Hochreiter points out, Batman fought the bad guys in Gotham City, a thinly disguised reference to the same place.

Chapter 4:

  • "The wall in left seemed arm's length away and 300 cubits high." - Ah, the green monster in Fenway Park. Iain Campbell wrote in to say: "Maybe just coincidence, but the number 300 cubits does have resonance, because it is the length (not the height) of Noah's Ark (Genesis 6:15, KJV.)"
  • "Striking out Tommy Henrich" - Known as "Old Reliable" he played for the Yankees 1937-42 and 46-50 (the gap is his service in WWII.) Mostly played outfield, but his clutch hitting was what won him fame. Take him down, Spenser.

Chapter 5:

  • "Across the river MIT loomed like a concrete temple to the Great God Brown" - This was on my Unknown page for quite a while before I got an E-mail from contributor Amy Sneed: "'The Great God Brown' was a 1926 Eugene O'Neill play."." Bullseye! A trip to the library confirmed the reference. The character referred to in the title was an unimaginative architect who could only design clunky lumps of buildings. It was his artist friend who hung the nickname on him. From what little I could gather online it is one of O'Neill's lesser-known works. I found it an enjoyable read.
  • "...the fearful symmetry of the hall." - William Blake, The Tyger.
Tyger, tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
what immortal hand or eye, 
could shape they fearful symmetry? 
To learn more about the metaphysics of Blake's writing you might want to visit and read about this poem.
3.  "Some old-timey ball player said something about you have to have a lot of little boy in you to play this game, but you gotta be a man too." - Spenser says it was Roy Campanella. I don't have any hard evidence to say otherwise, so I'll take his word for it... You want some hard evidence? Let's listen to veteran contributor Dennis Tallett: "Roy Campanella said, 'You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.' Ref. Sports Quotes by Bob Abel and Michael Valenti who link it to The New York Times, 12 April, 1957."

Chapter 6:

  • "I'd have to stop buying the house brand at Vito's Superette." - A back handed complement to Vinny's Superette in Somerville, a long established convenience store and deli that gets great write-ups in the local papers.

Chapter 9:

  • "Cleanliness is [, indeed,] next to godliness" - John Wesley, Sermon 93, On Dress.

Chapter 10:

  • "Beauty and the Beast" - A children's fairy tale (not to mention an excellent Disney animated movie).
  • Spenser muses on the Mississippi river:
  • "Cartier and La Salle" - Dennis Tallett writes: "Jacques Cartier (?1491-1557) French explorer discovered the St. Lawrence River in 1534 and claimed it for France. Robert La Salle (1643-1687) French explorer discovered the upper Mississippi and reached its mouth in 1632"
  • "Grant at Vicksburg" - Dennis further explains: "Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) Commander of the Union Army pursued the Confederate Army alongside the Mississippi to Vicksburg, laid siege and won. Later became President."
  • "'s lovely to live on a raft." Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 19.
  • "A mile wide and 'just keeps rolling.'" - Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi [1883], Chapter 4: "the Magnificent Mississippi, rolling its mile-wide tide along, shining in the sun." In addition, Lisa Hicks writes: I think the part about "just keeps rolling" is in the song "Ol' Man River" from the musical "Showboat". See Lyrics
  • "Aw come on, Hondo" - Referring to the 1953 movie starring John Wayne. Army dispatch rider Hondo Lane discovers a woman and her son living in the midst of warring Apaches, and he becomes their protector.
  • "Come to where the flavor is" - Marlboro cigarettes. In the television ads a chorus would sing that line in the background as a tall, good-looking cowboy rode along some scenic part of the American West, which they referred to as "Marlboro Country," while the theme music from The Magnificent Seven played in the background. The cowboy would then light up one of their cigarettes. That actor, David McLean, was known as the "Marlboro Man." Sadly he died of cancer caused by smoking up to five packs a day while the cameras tried to get exactly the right shots and his widow filed suit against Philip Morris Inc. in 1996. As far as I know it is still tied up in the court system.
  • "The ghost of Christmas past. Maybe of a Christmas future for the Burlingtons" - A reference to the three Ghosts of Christmas from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.

Chapter 11:

  • "We never sleep - see Oft Quoted.
  • "Trouble is my business" - Raymond Chandler. Dennis Tallett adds: "1950. A short story by Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) but NOT a Philip Marlowe story. It appears in "The Simple Art of Murder" (1950) - Essays and Short Stories, but was omitted from the Vintage edition in 1988.

Chapter 12:

  • "All he lacked was a sign saying "THE PIMP IS IN." - Iain Campbell caught this one: "A reference to the Charlie Brown cartoons, where Lucy has her booth, with the sign that the shrink is in. (She charges 5 cents!)" Does Lucy have to turn the nickels over to Violet afterwards?
  • "I didn't come down here to write a sonnet about your Easter Bonnet" - Iain also noted that this is from the 1948 movie Easter Parade, words and music by Irving Berlin, performed by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. See Lyrics.

Chapter 13:

  • "I bought you violets for your furs." Larry Wiener writes: "That's the title and first line of a song by Matt Dennis, a singer and song-writer of the 40s, 50s, and possible beyond. He also wrote, "Let's Get Away From It All," and many other songs. Spenser is here indicating a familiarity with big-band music. In the A&E movie version of Small Vices Spenser notes him as "Best Songwriter," and RBP mentioned in a recent interview that he knows the man, and that he is still performing in the L.A. area. Matt wrote the music and performed it, but the words were written by his longtime partner Tom Adair. See Lyrics
  • "The Wings of the Dove...a golden bowl" - "Henry James. It's a book joke." The Wings of the Dove and A Golden Bowl are the titles of two of his books.
  • "Is Nedicks still open?" - A diner (or "big hot dog stand") that was a fixture in the New York theater district for years.
  • "The truth...will set us free." - John 8:32: "The truth shall make you free."
  • "You and Rex Harrison." - I love getting E-mails like the following. Once again Iain Campbell noticed one I missed: "A reference to the show 'My Fair Lady' in which Rex Harrison plays Professor Higgins, the linguistics prof who transforms Eliza Doolittle into a lady, for a wager. The original of the show is George Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' which is referenced in the following chapter (which reference goes back to the Greek play, but enough is enough!)" No, enough is never enough! Just for the fun of it Jay R. Ashworth points to another branch of the same tree: "It may be worth noting, also, that the 'My Fair Lady' reference might also have some connection - in our context - to the fact that Damon Runyon also did this one, as 'Madame La Gimp,' which was turned into the '30s movie 'Lady for a Day.'" Frank Capra made that movie in 1933. He later remade it as 'Pocketful of Miracles' in 1961 with Bette Davis as Apple Annie, Glenn Ford as Dave the Dude, and Peter Falk as Joy Boy. And to take it back to the origin Iain mentioned above, read about the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea that started it all.

Chapter 15:

  • Bas cuisine - "Low cuisine," as opposed to "haute cuisine," like the stuff you get in posh restaurants cooked up by the guys with the big white hats. Parker is making up a phrase that doesn't exist, and screwing up the language. See the article Slightly Off 'Bas'
  • "'Tis better to know than not to know" - ?

Chapter 16:

  • ""Words...what a magic web you weave with them." - This stumped me, but not Linda Hickman: "That could be from 'The Lady of Shalott' by Alfred Lord Tennyson: 'There she weaves by night and day A magic web with colours gay. She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay To look down to Camelot'" Looks right to me. Thanks Linda.
  • "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." - Hisao Tomihari wrote in to note that it is a quote from Green Bay Packer's coach Vince Lombardi.
  • "When we stop learning, we stop growing." - Anyone know the origin of this one? It's in such common use now that my web searches couldn't narrow it down.

Chapter 17:

  • "Buttons and bows" - song title from an Oscar-winning song from the 1948 movie The Paleface, with Bob Hope and Jane Russell. The song was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. (Thanks to Larry Wiener and Shawn Hassell for the reference.)

Chapter 18:

Chapter 19:

  • "You already have, ma'am" - Jack Webb, Dragnet
  • "There'll always be an England." - From Iain Campbell once again: "We find Spenser giving a thumbs up as in the old RAF war movies, and he ends with 'There'll always be an England,' a well know song from the Blitz, popular in sing-songs in English pubs and on the 'Last Night at the Proms' in England, written by Ross Parker (any relation?) and Hughie Charles."It's from the 1941 film Nice Girl? starring Deanna Durbin. See Lyrics.
  • "'Only where love and need are one...And the work is play for goddamned mortal stakes / Is the deed ever really done.'" - See Oft Quoted and Poetry (Two Tramps in Mud Time)
  • "one of the Vermeer prints, the one of the Dutch girl with a milk pitcher." - The title is either "Maid with
    Vermeer - The Milkmaid

    Girl with a milk pitcher, by Vermeer.

    Milk Pitcher" or "The Milk Maid" depending on the translator.

Chapter 20:

  • "I had breakfast in a diner, nothing could be finer." - takeoff on Chattanooga Choo Choo, written by Johnny Mercer. It appeared in "Sun Valley Serenade," a 1941 Sonja Henie vehicle, and was nominated for a "Best Song" Oscar. "Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer/ than to eat your ham and eggs in Carolina." Contributor Simone Hochreiter notes that part of that line matches an earlier song, Carolina in the Morning by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn, 1922. "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning." Was Mr. Mercer (who BTW lived in Savannah, Georgia) influenced by Mr. Kahn? Nothing I have come across points that way but... See Lyrics
  • "Elementary, my dear Holmes." - Actually, Holmes was usually the one saying "Elementary," but you get the idea.
  • "Nature never betrayed the heart that loved her." - William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey [July 15, 1798], lines 122-3: "Nature never did betray/the heart that loved her.

Chapter 21:

  • "Ah sweet bird of youth." - See Oft Quoted.
  • "Because it's there." - Hisao Tomihari found this one. See Oft Quoted.
  • "Ah when you and I were young, Sarah." - The song When You and I Were Young, Maggie was written by Geo. W. Johnson and J.A. Butterfield in 1910. Spenser had just noted the music playing on Lester's radio. "The top forty. Music with the enchantment and soul of a penny gum machine." Knowing his taste in music, I think the Sarah he is referring to is Sarah Vaughan. Play one of her records and then talk about enchantment and soul. See Lyrics
  • "Early to bed, early to rise" - (makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise). Proverb. Benjamin Franklin included it in the first edition of Poor Richard's Almanac (1732), a collection of homespun wisdom and folk sayings. An annual sale of 10,000 or so copies in the colonies was a phenomenal success, something not unlike a new Harry Potter book.

Chapter 22:

  • "Do-or-die for old Siwash." - From Good Old Siwash, the fight song of the Latin School in Boston.

Chapter 23:

  • "Win this one for the Gipper" - see The Godwulf Manuscript
  • "It counts not if you win or lose but how you play the game." - From the poem Alumnus Football, by Grantland Rice: "For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name/He writes - not that you won or lost - but how you played the game." (Thanks to Glenn Everett and Dennis Tallett.)

Chapter 25:

  • "Oh, to be torn 'tween love and duty": It's from the title song to the 1952 Gary Cooper movie High Noon, one of the classic westerns. Music by Dmitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington, it was sung by Tex Ritter. High Noon won the 1953 Academy and Golden Globe Awards for best musical score. The song “High Noon” also earned the 1953 Academy Award for best song. See Lyrics.
  • "I walked up the road toward the dell. High-ho a dairy-o." - The Farmer in the Dell (nursery rhyme)
  • "Say it ain't so, Frankie." - Hisao Tomihari pointed out that this is obviously a rewording of the famous "say it ain't so, Joe." See Oft Quoted

Chapter 26:

  • "Out, out, damned spot." - Simone Hochreiter reminded me that I forgot to include this one. Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act V, scene 1.
  • "There is a knife blade in the grass, and a tiger lies just outside the fire." - I'd love to know where this comes from, but many hours toiling over a search engine have turned up nothing. Susan notes that it is "bathetic" and "bad verse."

Chapter 27:

  • " they say in all the movies, Bucky, I'll be back". - OK, our first thought would be to say "Oh yeah, that's Ahhnold in The Terminator". However, this book came out loooooong before that movie did. It's just the kind of thing a tough cop or private eye would say on his way out the door in a movie from the classic era.
  • "I am not in sorrow's clutch" - Iain pointed out the quoted look of this one so I went out searching. The closest I found was in Beowulf "but sorrow holds him tightly grasped/in gripe of anguish, in baleful bonds, where bide he must" and so on through several million words. It's a little surprising to hear it come from Quirk, but he does show a flash of erudition once in a while.

Chapter 30:

  • "I've seen the big red S on your chest" - A reference to Superman, no doubt, something Spenser's been compared to before...
  • "Who has it...he that died a Wednesday?" - Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1. Falstaff is mocking the concept of honor.
  • "Enough with the love talk, off with the clothes" - He seems to like that phrase, doesn't he? This reference eluded me for a long time. It took until nearly the end of 2005 before someone answered this. See Oft Quoted

Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit

  • Spenser used to fight preliminary fights down at the Boston Arena (which now belongs to Northeastern University and is called Matthews Arena. I know, I went to Northeastern for a year. I knew the education would be useful for something...). He knew Lennie Seltzer then, when they were "up and coming."
  • Spenser has gotten a little serious with Susan, but nothing in the way of commitment has happened yet, as he is still dating Brenda off and on. He is noticing more and more that Susan is easier to talk to when some serious discussion is needed, and this may have an effect on their relationship. We'll see more of this in the next novel.
  • Spenser goes to the BU gym for his workout. It's still a bit early in the series and although he introduced Henry Cimoli and the Harbor Health Club in the last book he hadn't pinned it down as a serious point yet.

Favorite LinesEdit

Spenser's Book Titles:

The Sensuous Baseball
Valley of the Bat Boys
The Balls of Summer
The Summer Season

Chapter 1: Act now! Offer ends soon! "

'What do you charge?'
'A hundred a day and expenses. but I'm running a special this week; at no extra charge I teach you how to wave a blackjack.'"
Chapter 4: A shot and a beer

"The bartender brought them over, put the beer on a little paper coaster, and went back behind the bar. I drank the shot.

'Well,' I said, 'if I had worms, I guess they're taken care of.'
'Yeah, Frank don't age that stuff all that long, does he?'"
'Want another drink?'
I shook my head. 'The last one took the enamel off my front teeth,' I said."

Chapter 5: If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit

'Tell me about the book you're writing, Mr. Spenser.'
'Well, Mrs. Rabb...'

'Okay, Linda, I suppose you'd say it's along the lines of several others, looking at baseball as the institutionalized expression of human personality.' She nodded and I wondered why. I didn't know what the hell I'd just said.

'Isn't that interesting,' she said.

'I like to see sports as a kind of metaphor for human life, contained by rules, patterned by tradition.' I was hot now, and rolling."

Chapter 7: We buy what we can afford

"I sat down again, opened the bottom desk drawer, took out a bottle of bourbon, and drank from the neck. I coughed. I'd have to stop buying the house brand at Vito's Superette."

Chapter 11: Is that "zesty" as in "spicy" or was he referring to the soap?

"In the window of F.A.O. Schwarz was an enormous stuffed giraffe, and Brentano's had a display of ethnic cookbooks in the window. I thought about going in and asking them if they were a branch of the Boston store but decided not to. They probably lacked my zesty sense of humor."

Chapter 11: You never know, Nell might be a hell of a bookkeeper...

"'She was about eighteen; she ran away from a small midwestern town with the local bad kid, who probably ditched her after they got here. She's a good bet to have ended up on welfare or prostitution or both. I figured that you'd have better records than Diamond Nell's Parlor of Delight.'"

Chapter 12: Dress for success

"Leaning against the Coup de Ville was a man who'd seen too many Superfly movies. He was a black man probably six-three in his socks and about six-seven in the open-toed red platform shoes he was wearing. He was also wearing red-and-black argyle socks, black knickers, and a chain mail vest. A black Three Musketeers' hat with an enormous red plume was tipped forward over his eyes. Subtle. All he lacked was a sign saying THE PIMP IS IN."

Chapter 13: Spenser talks about his most exciting cases

"'Why, I remember one I call the howling dog caper...'"

Chapter 16: Brenda serves up lunch from the picnic basket of unending capacity

"'That hamper is like the clown car at the circus. I'm waiting for the sommelier to jump out with his gold key and ask is Monsieur is pleased with the wine.'"

Chapter 19: Oh no, now he's got Marty doing it

"'Spenser,' he said. 'Thank God you called. I've got this murder took place in a locked room. It's got us all stumped and the chief said; "Quirk," he said, "only one man can solve this."'"

Chapter 19: People who take pride in their work

"There was a parking ticket neatly tucked under the wiper blade on the driver's side. The string looped around the base. A conscientious meter maid. A lot of them just jam it under the wiper without looping the string, and sometimes on the passenger side where you can't even see it. It was nice to see samples of professional pride. I put the ticket in a public trash receptacle attached to a lamppost."

Chapter 19: Martin Quirk, master of the simile

"'Get out of this, Spenser. You're in with people that will waste you like a Popsicle on a warm day.'"

Chapter 19: Drunken teeth

"I held the bottle up toward the window and looked at how much was left. Half. Good. Even if I finished it, there was another one in the file cabinet. Warm feeling having another one in the file cabinet. I winked at the file cabinet and grinned with one side of my mouth like Clark Gable used to. He never did it at file cabinets, though, far as I could remember. I drank some more and rinsed it around in my mouth. Maybe my teeth will get drunk. I giggled. Goddammned sure Clark Gable never giggled. Drink up, teeth. Hot damn. She was right, though, it was a kind of game. I mean, you played ball or something and whatever you did there had to be some kind of rules for it, for crissake. Otherwise you ended up getting bombed and winking at file cabinets. And your teeth got drunk."

Chapter 20: sotto voce

"'May I help you,' he said. Soft. Solicitous. May I take your wallet, may I have all your money? Leave everything to us."

Chapter 21: The bare necessities

"I needed to stay on this thing. I couldn't afford to get fired and shut off from the Sox. Also I needed the money. My charger needed feed and my armor needed polish."

Chapter 21: The great equalizer...

"I stood up. 'Lester, let me show you something,' I said. And brought my gun out and aimed it at his forehead. 'This is a thirty-eight caliber Colt detective special. If I pull the trigger, your mastery of the martial arts will be of very little use to you.'"

Chapter 23: Beggars can't be choosers

I was having trouble getting Amstel these days and was drinking domestic stuff. Didn't make a hell of a lot of difference, though. The worst beer I ever had was wonderful."

Chapter 23: Words to live by

"I applied one of Spenser's Rules: When in doubt, cook something and eat it."

Chapter 25: Ah, wilderness

"I heard a match scrape and smelled cigarette smoke. Careless Wally, what if I were just arriving and smelled the smoke? It carries out here in the woods. But Wally probably wasn't all that home in the woods. Places Wally hung out you could probably smoke a length of garden hose and no one would smell it."

Chapter 25: The right to bear arms

"'What the hell is the shotgun for, Spenser?' Doerr said.

'Protection,' I said. 'You know how it is out in the woods. You might run into a rampaging squirrel or something.'"


  • Chapter 2: Breakfast at home: Fresh squeezed orange juice, mushroom omelet with sherry, warm loaf of unleavened Arab bread.
  • Chapter 3: Hot dogs at Fenway Park.
  • Chapter 5: Two cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake from McDonalds.
  • Chapter 6: Fresh squeezed orange juice, whipped cream biscuits, fresh strawberries, sour cream for breakfast at home.

Sauerbraten for lunch at Jake Worth's.

  • Chapter 7: Westphalian ham sandwich on pumpernickel.
  • Chapter 9: Rack of lamb and a strawberry tart at a French restaurant with Brenda Loring.
  • Chapter 10: Two cheeseburgers and two slices of blackberry pie at a diner in Illinois.

Wiener Schnitzel and fresh garden vegetables at the Holiday Inn restaurant in NY city.

  • Chapter 11: Smorgasbord at a Scandinavian restaurant on 58th St., NY city.
  • Chapter 13: Gazpacho, Scallops St. Jaques, spinach salad, Duck in a fig and brandy sauce, carrots in a brown sauce, zucchini in butter, and Clafoutis at Wings of the Dove.
  • Chapter 15: Eggs Benedict at the Holiday Inn Restaurant. He found them mediocre.

Peanut butter on whole wheat (there was nothing else in the house.)

  • Chapter 16: Picnic with Brenda Loring on the common:

Sourdough bread, Cranshaw melon, nectarines, Monterey Jack cheese.

  • Chapter 17: Coffee and corn muffins with Linda Rabb.
  • Chapter 23: Spare ribs (experimenting with his barbecue sauce), zucchini with beer batter fried in olive oil.
  • Chapter 25: Hebrew National bologna, pumpernickel, brown mustard.
  • Chapter 28: Lettuce and tomato sandwich on homemade wheat bread, Rhubarb pie at home.
  • Chapter 29: Leftover beef stew for supper at home.

Cornbread with strawberry jam for breakfast.

  • Chapter 30: Oysters, crab and lobster stew, and steak at The Last Hurrah.


  • Chapter 1: Miller High Life at Fenway.
  • Chapter 4: Seltzer buys him a shot and a beer. He drinks the shot.
  • Chapter 5: Labatt Fifty at the Rabb's.
  • Chapter 6: Dark beer at Jake Worth's.
    • Bourbon from the office bottle (the house brand at Vito's Superette.)
  • Chapter 7: Amstel at home.
  • Chapter 9: Draft beer at an outdoor cafe by City Hall.
    • A chilled bottle of Traminer with supper at a French restaurant on Tremont.

Remy Martin at his apartment with Brenda.

  • Chapter 10: Draft beer with dinner at the Holiday Inn.
  • Chapter 12: Draft beer with Violet at Casa Grande.
  • Chapter 13: A glass of Calvados at Patricia Utley's.
    • Heineken at Wings of the Dove.
  • Chapter 15: Amstel at home.
  • Chapter 16: Rose whilst picnicking on the Common with Brenda Loring.
  • Chapter 19: Bourbon at the Red Coach with Quirk. A lot more back at the office.
  • Chapter 23: Domestic beer while making supper.
  • Chapter 26: Wild Turkey at Susan's after the killings.
  • Chapter 29: Beer with his stew at home.
    • More beer at Copperfield's.
  • Chapter 30: A stein of Harp at The Last Hurrah, then Chablis with the meal.


  • Spenser has a new holster, but the same old problem of color coordination. In God Save the Child he had a brown one and it didn't go with his suit. Now here in Chapter 2 he has a black one and it would clash badly if he wore brown. Maybe he should have a holster rack beside the ties.
  • In Chapter 4 the TV in the bar is showing Duckpins for Dollars. The actual show was Candlepins for Cash here in the Boston area, although they may have had the above at the Rhode Island station for all I know. Both are obscure forms of bowling not much known outside New England. I was in my thirties before I first encountered one of those bowling balls with holes you stuck your fingers into. It still doesn't seem quite right to me.
  • Those golden days of yore:
    • $300 for a suit and $10 for a haircut were outrageously expensive.
    • Healy says Spenser dresses like a "hippie." Was it the red and black paisley sport coat?
    • A female New York cop is wearing "enormously high platform shoes."
    • To watch a pornographic movie you needed a film projector.
  • Show me the money: A big paycheck and a free pass to Fenway Park. What a deal.

Previous book: God Save the Child • Next book: Promised Land

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.