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The Professional    by Robert B. Parker order for
by Robert B. Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Robert Parker's latest, his hugely popular hero Spenser, who is himself very much a professional, takes on an assignment that requires him to deal with another type of professional entirely, an unashamed - and surprisingly likeable - professional gigolo who calls himself Gary Eisenhower.

Spenser is hired by an attorney, Elizabeth Shaw (who went to law school with Rita Fiore), representing a group of thirty-something women, all well groomed, well dressed, and married to much older, very wealthy men. Abigail, Beth, Regina and Nancy have enjoyed Eisenhower's company in and out of bed, but now these 'seduced and abandoned' ladies don't so much appreciate his blackmailing them.

Tasked to persuade Eisenhower (aka Gary Pappas) to 'cease and desist', the PI tracks him down and comes up against an opponent he kind of likes and who is unafraid of a beating. Since they both 'believe that things can be made better', Spenser consults Susan and readers get to enjoy their back and forth banter about a case that resonates with their own past situation.

When Beth's husband Chester sends killer Zel and his ex-fighter sidekick Boo to threaten Spenser, he and Zel relate immediately, as always seems to happen with these tough guys who share a code. Spenser ends up helping Eisenhower when he's targeted ('Damned if I know' he replies when asked why) and again after he comes under suspicion of murder. And when justice is eventually served it's not by the cops.

As mellow going down as a shot of single malt whiskey, Robert B. Parker's The Professional provides Spenser fans another welcome and absorbing jaunt alongside their favorite PI.

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