Review: Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby by Ace Atkins

Robert B. Parker's Lullaby by Ace AtkinsHow did I get it: The library.

Why did I listen to it: For one thing, I love listening to Joe Mantegna read the Spenser books. For another, I wanted to see how the Spenser series is now that Atkins is writing it.


When fourteen-year-old Mattie Sullivan asks Spenser to look into her mother’s murder, he’s not completely convinced by her claim that the police investigation four years ago was botched. Mattie is gruff, street-smart, and wise beyond her years, left to care for her younger siblings and an alcoholic grandmother in a dilapidated apartment in South Boston.  But her need for closure and her determination to make things right hit Spenser where he lives- they’re the very characteristics he abides by.

Mattie believes the man convicted of the crime is innocent and points Spenser to the Southie toughs who she saw carrying her mother away hours before her murder. Neither the Boston PD nor the neighborhood thugs are keen on his dredging up the past, but as Spenser becomes more involved in the case, he starts to realize that Mattie may be onto something. Spenser will need Hawk’s help to find peace for Mattie – a job that’s more dangerous than he ever thought.

Review: When it is hot out, there is pretty much nothing better than reading or listening to a book set in a place that is cold. Boston in the Winter is one such location, and one that I am quite familiar with to boot, so getting to spend time there with great fictional characters is always something I look forward to.

In that respect ,as well as many others, Lullaby definitely did what I wanted it to. Spenser is back in full force and has plenty of great lines and moments with Hawke, Susan, and other regulars. Mattie Sullivan made for a wonderful addition as she struggles to find not only her mother but some peace of mind. She’s had to grow up very quickly, and it was sweet that Spenser was trying to give her at least some time to be fourteen. I’m not sure I’m as sold on Connors, but hopefully he won’t be making another appearance for awhile. I also hope the next book features Zebulon Sixkill.

Most of the story-lines were enjoyable. I think Atkins did a really good job of capturing the mood, point of view, and tone of the other Parker books although I did feel like the book was a little light on suspects. I also had a feeling it would have been a bit shorter if some strange twists didn’t turn up towards the end. Even so Mantegna did a great job as usual. I laughed a lot, and I was thoroughly entertained.

In conclusion, Lullaby was a pretty satisfying Spenser book overall. I just wouldn’t be a great book or audiobook to start with. Despite the minor issues I had with how the mystery was brought to light and resolved itself, I loved the characters and that is usually more important to me when I read a mystery title. So I will definitely be tuning in for the next book whenever it comes out.

How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.


About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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