By Robert B. Parker
Thorndike Press, Large Print Edition (2009), 331 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - November 13, 2009
The Professional is a good story, interesting and humorous. Yet, it has one disturbing matter.
The book seems to be broken down into two parts. The first part is about the blackmailing, the second about murders. The first part is somewhat disturbing.
The basic theme of the first part is in Sir Author Conan Doyle's The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. Sherlock Holmes seems unable to save a woman from being blackmailed because she does not want to file suit against the blackmailer in court. Holmes perseveres, but Spenser, faced with the same problem, does not.
Isn't blackmailing a married woman for having sex with a man who is not her husband despicable? And isn't it even more despicable if the man who is doing the blackmailing is the man who seduced her so that he could blackmail her?
Spenser is the modern "knight in shining armor" who saves damsels in distress, but who seems to like men who are daring Wild West types. But readers need to decide if Parker has gone too far in having Spenser like the blackmailer and not acting aggressively to help the women he is blackmailing.
Shouldn't it fit the Spenser character better if he made more of an effort to save the four women who ask his help to rid them of the blackmailer? Or, are we to see that Spenser intuited that there was something about the women that made it wrong for him to help them?
There is a theme that runs through many of Parker's novels: a good man – including Spenser – loses his beloved to another man. The cuckolded man forgives the woman who strayed and takes her back, usually because he is so much in love with her. Yet, he retains a feeling of disquiet. Readers of The Professional may want to ask themselves how this theme helps explain Spenser's behavior to the blackmailer and the women.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.israelbooks.com.