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Thin Air by Robert B. Parker. G. P. Putman’s Sons 1995. 293 pp.

Robert B. Parker writes wonderful detective stories. He has several different series, but this one involves Spenser who works in the Boston area. It begins when the wife (Lisa St. Claire) of one of his friends, Frank, a police detective, disappears, The question is did she leave him or was she abducted?

She did have a very checkered past, but it seemed as if she had put that behind her and started a new life with her husband. Lisa had had a relationship with Luis, a volatile and very disturbed man. Could he have been involved?

When Frank is attacked and almost killed, Spenser sets out to solve the mystery of the attack on Frank, and Lisa’s disappearance. This leads Spenser to some very dark places and violent men.

There is some lightness in this book due to Spenser’s relationship with his “significant other”, Susan. While she is elegant and beautiful, Spenser is on the rough side, yet it works for them and introduces some humor.

This book as all of Parker’s books is well written and entertaining, which is something we need these difficult days.


The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John. Scribner 1993. 209 pp.

This story takes place in Sydney Australia, the author’s home town. The main characters are some of the women who work selling dresses at Goode’s Department Store in Sydney where they are required to wear black frocks. The time is the l950s.

Patty Williams is in her thirties and married to Frank, a difficult man. So far they have no children, which Patty keeps hoping for. Fay Baines is 28 and has dated many men. But so far has never met the possible husband she has been searching for.

Then there  is Magda, who is somewhat annoying to me because of the way she is running the High End Gowns department. She hopes to run her own boutique some day. She is a Slovenian immigrant and her husband is Hungarian.  (In Australia after the war there are many immigrants.)

  Then there is Lisa, my favorite. She is a teenager who has finished high school and wants to go to college and also become a poet. When Lisa appears as a new employee Magda makes sure she is attached to the section called Model Gowns.

This book is a good one and quite funny at times. I loved the friendships between these women. The author Madeline St. John was born in Sydney and went to college in the United States. Later ,she moved to England to attend the University of Cambridge. Of her four novels The Women in Black is only one about Australia. In 1918 it was adapted into a film, Ladies in Black.


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