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Little White Lies by Ace Atkins

Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on May 2, 2017

The official title of this book is apparently Robert B. Parker's Little White Lies, but Parker has been dead for six years. Adding the names of dead authors to titles of books they didn't write is a questionable marketing gimmick and not one that reviewers need to promote.

Ace Atkins is a seasoned writer with a biting sense of humor. Little White Lies is his sixth Spenser novel, after the forty that Robert B. Parker wrote. Atkins captures Parker’s voice, which I think of as a more sophisticated Mickey Spillane.

A right-wing pundit who passes himself off to cable “news” programs as a former CIA agent has swindled Spenser’s latest client in a land deal. The client happens to be a patient of Spenser’s girlfriend. Spenser’s effort to track down the swindler leads him to an equally unsavory owner of a gun range. The two men seem to be working together to sell shady investments, while one or both of them may be making illegal sales of a different kind.

Spenser’s inability to abide a liar puts him at odds with the con man, and his effort to expose the scam takes up the first half of the novel. By the second half, he’s in Atlanta, dealing with gun nuts and a megachurch preacher, all of whom are engaged in swindles or worse. Of course, Spenser’s buddy Hawk has his back, often playing the straight man for Spenser’s sarcastic remarks as they explore Atlanta’s underbelly. Another buddy, Tedy Sapp, plays a similar role while adding some sexual orientation diversity to the cast of good guys.

Little White Lies is a classic detective story, with a few murders sprinkled among the other crimes that Spenser investigates. Between lunatics who think that Jesus carried an AR-15 and the cynical “preachers” who exploit their fears and prejudices, Spenser has his hands full.

Little White Lies isn’t particularly surprising or memorable, but those are not qualities I would expect to find in a franchise that has lasted this long. Little White Lies is a fun, quick read, an entertaining visit with familiar characters. It easily lives up to, but does not surpass, expectations.


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