Hush Money by Robert B. Parker
(from the book jacket)
When Robinson Nevins, the son of Hawk’s boyhood mentor, is denied tenure at the University, Hawk asks Spenser to investigate. It appears the denial is tied to the suicide of a young gay activist, Prentice Lamont. While intimations of an affair between Lamont and Nevins have fed the campus rumor mill, no one is willing to talk, and as Spenser digs deeper he is nearly drowned in a multicultural swamp of politics: black, gay, academic, and feminist.
At the same time, Spenser’s inamorata, Susan, asks him to come to the aid of an old college friend, K.C. Roth, the victim of a stalker. Spenser solves the problem a bit too effectively, and K.C., unwilling to settle for the normal parameters of the professional-client relationship, becomes smitten with him, going so far as to attempt to lure him from Susan. When Spenser, ever chivalrous, kindly rejects her advances, K.C. turns the tables and begins to stalk him.
Then the case of Robinson Nevins turns deadly. It is, Spenser discovers, only the tip of the iceberg in a great conspiracy to keep America white, male, and straight. Spenser must call upon his every resource, including friends on both sides of the law, to stay alive.
I think the reasons I liked this book are the same reasons I like Spenser books in general. Spenser and Hawk are great characters. They are tough guys without being stupid; they are smart guys without being annoying. And their friendship comes through as real and believable. You can tell by the way they talk to each other that they have known each other for a long time. And the book is written with a lot of wit. So it’s fun to read. It deals with issues like prejudice and racism without reading like an after school special or a sermon and without belittling the problem. And since I tend to get annoyed when books preach at me, I appreciated that. The plot line about Nevins was more interesting to me than the other one but both were fine. But I was more interested in the people than in either of them. If you like detective/PI novels and haven’t read any Spenser, you should. If not this one than another. They are easy to get hooked on.