By Jim McAllister
For those of you who enjoy reading books of the mystery genre and are fortunate enough to live in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, you should be aware of the two gems available to you in the form of the Poisoned Pen bookstores. Owner Barb Peters carries not only the best in mystery reading but has a continuous schedule of author appearances and book signings to add to the enjoyment of her customers.
Last March I stopped by for a book signing session and discussion with author Robert B. Parker as he was in town to discuss his latest Spenser For Hire entry, "Cold Service". Mr. Parker was back in town on February 7 to promote his latest in the Jesse Stone series, "Sea Change".
Parker is a fascinating guy. At 73 he is still writing three books per year and is now caught up through 2007. His main character through almost 60 books has been Boston private eye Spenser but a few years ago he added lady detective Sunny Randall, also a Boston P. I., into the mix along with Paradise, Massachusetts police chief, Jesse Stone. He has done several books on other subjects such as Wyatt Earp and Jackie Robinson. One of his personal favorites was "All My Yesterdays" written in 1994. It is a chronicle of an Irish family over a time span in the 20th century which I thoroughly enjoyed but unfortunately was not a success.
Parker was asked how he comes up with his various characters. His reply was that he just uses his "plain old imagination". He also doesn’t read reviews of his works and admits that Jesse Stone is a "work in progress". He writes in simple declarative sentences and the moral of his books is to live life on our own terms and enjoy it.
By the age of 30 Robert B. Parker had done about all he wanted to do. He refers to everything after that as "frosting on the cake". As far as the recent controversy over the James Frey book and whether it was fiction or non-fiction, he says simply that one should tell the truth if they are doing an autobiography.