(AKA "Cheap jokes R Us")

I originally made the case that Surrogate was the only real Spenser short story that I was aware of and considered the other material simply fluff. Pretty narrow minded as I look back on it now so I've taken a hint from George Orwell and the page with that opinion doesn't exist. Never did. This page has always been as you see it now :) The copyrights on some of them are obscure and I fly so far beneath the radar that I may publish them here one of these days.


Surrogate is still the only Spenser short story I respect as such. It was written as a stand-alone piece of fiction involving the elements of plot/conflict/resolution/change in or a revelation about the characters involved. Brenda Loring has been brutally raped and turns to Spenser in her plea for justice.

The details about the circumstances under which it was written and how to get a copy take up too much space to include here so I'm keeping them on a separate page .

Spenser's a Fan, TooEdit

I like to call this adventure "The Case of the Curious Copyright." Legend has long had it that Parker wrote a short about Spenser and Susan at a Red Sox game but the details were a bit fuzzy. Kevin Coupe wrote in to note:

"If I'm not mistaken, Parker wrote a short story about Spenser that appeared in a special Boston Globe section on featured major Boston writers and pieces about the Red Sox."

In fact, Kevin did a massive search through his files and came up with the issue in question, which he kindly
photocopied and sent my way. Dated October 6, 1986 and titled "Literati on the Red Sox," it had pieces by eleven local writers, including George F. Will, John Updike, and Stephen King. Parker's story is subtitled Susan sees a Yankee game. It's Spenser and Susan taking in a ball game at Fenway Park and talking about rules and life. Read ch. 5 of Early Autumn and ch. 6 of Mortal Stakes and you've got the whole thing covered.

And unless you stored away a copy as Kevin did forget about ever seeing it. It's not in the Globe online archives and although they might dig it up for you at 135 Morrissey Blvd. I rather doubt it.

Now we come to Lord John 10. 1988, edited by Dennis Etchison. Lord John's Press is a small printer specializing in high quality limited editions. On their tenth anniversary in 1988 they put out a volume of short stories by authors whose books they had published Parker contributed a four page number called Spenser's a Fan, Too. The mystery is that it lists a copyright date of 1988. Did they even know Parker was sending them a used story?

The book is long out of print but you can sometimes find it on the used book market. I lucked out on a $12 copy at but the prices go up sharply from there. As of this writing had a few starting at $19.95, starts at around $25.95, and first editions signed by all the authors top out at close to $700.00.

An excerpt that sums it up:

"I drank some more beer, sampled a Fenway Frank, explained the infield fly rule to Susan, explained it again, joined in a salute to the Marshfield Little League that flashed on the scoreboard.
'I still think it's a dumb rule.' Susan said. She shelled a peanut and ate half a nut.
'In a sense all rules are dumb.' I said. 'They're arbitrary. It's what creates sport. It's not just trying to win. It's trying to win under these circumstances, within these rules, under these conditions.'
Susan looked at me while she ate the other half of one peanut. 'Reminds me of someone.' she said.
I shrugged. 'It's a way to live,' I said.
She started on her second peanut.
"Except here the rules are absolute.' Susan said.
'What makes it a game,' I said."

Spenser's BostonEdit

A photographer's impression of Spenser's home area by Kasho Kumagai. Parker includes a few pages of Spenser and Susan showing Rachel Wallace some local sites of interest.

Long out of print and hard to find. I borrowed a copy from my local library network and you may want to try the same yourself. Available for $45 to $90 at the same sources as above. I also looked through a copy of the Japanese edition in Spenser's Mystery Bookshop on Newbury St. in Boston that the owners keep in their private collection.

Boston: History in the MakingEdit

Boston: History in the Making. [1999] An oversized "coffee table" book, it contains photographs of the local area and puff pieces on local companies. It's part of an "Urban Tapestry Series" put out by Towery Publishing. To quote:

"As they follow their suspect, Spenser and Hawk deliver a guided tour of the city, from the shops and restaurants of Beacon Hill to the swan boats at the Public Garden to the Italian enclave in the North End. Spenser figures the duo is about 'as inconspicuous . . . as two tarantulas on a wedding cake,' but they manage to solve their case and, in the process, introduce us to Boston as only they could. Accompanying Parker's introduction are hundreds of outstanding images culled from the collections of the area's finest photographers."

Using all of my resources I found only one copy on for about $50, which will surely be gone by the time you read this. It's not all that good; if you know the books you could knock off something resembling it in half an hour.

The Kitchen CaperEdit

The Kitchen Caper appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine on 16 March 2003. It was available in their archives for a while but it has since disappeared. Read Susan's attempt at beet risotto in chapter 52 of Small Vices and you can get the idea.

Murder's RowEdit

Murder's Row. [2001] An anthology of baseball stories to which Parker contributed "Harlem Nocturne." Set in 1945 it involves a private detective hired by Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to protect his newest player Jackie Robinson from those who are outraged at the concept of a "negro" in the major leagues. Parker expanded the story to novel length and Double Play was published on 24 May 2004.

There's No BusinessEdit

Parker wrote this very short piece for the Audiobooks web site. It seems that Susan's friend "Bob" has written a detective story and thinks it would be wonderful to have a real detective voice the audio version.

The PicnicEdit

In 1998 Parker wrote a short story for a special issue of "Fashions of the Times" magazine of the New York Times. You can read it online at the NY Times site here but it's not much more than a rewrite of Taming a Sea-Horse chapter 19. (Thanks to Fred Gillis for the link.)

Harvard-Yale ProgramEdit

Here is a real rarity, a program from a Harvard-Yale football game in 1984. Jim Pattison bought this at Spenser and Marlowe's (an earlier incarnation of Spenser's Mystery Bookshop) sometime in the mid eighties and was kind enough to scan it and pass it my way. Two pages of extremely light-weight banter but a wonderful addition to my collection.

Murder at the Foul LineEdit

[2006] An anthology of basketball stories to which Bob and Joan Parker contributed "Galahad, Inc." Nick and Holly are a wisecracking detective couple (much like Nick and Nora Charles in the Thin Man series of movies.) More details when my copy gets here.