(from The Boston Globe)
March 21, 2012|By Bella English
Joan Parker and Ace Atkins Photo:Essdras M. Suarez
It wasn’t just the detective sitting in his office at the corner of Berkeley and Boylston, munching on a doughnut and “drinking coffee with a little milk and sugar,’’ that got to Joan Parker.
Sure, she loved the first paragraph of the new manuscript. It was vintage Robert B. Parker, describing his alter ego, the iconic detective Spenser, and Joan had always been her husband’s first reader and biggest fan.
But there was also the author’s name: Ace Atkins. To Parker’s widow, that was an omen. When she’d met him in college, her husband-to-be was known as Ace Parker, a nickname that arrived in prep school and stayed for decades.
When Robert Parker suffered a fatal heart attack at age 77 in January 2010, his longtime publisher, Putnam, didn’t want to see the best-selling Spenser series die with him, nor did his family. Parker, a prolific writer, had left three books in the pipeline. But after that, who would – who could – pick up the mantle?
Putnam put out the word to some of its own authors, asking for 50 pages of a new Spenser novel. A year ago, Parker’s longtime editor, Chris Pepe, told Joan they had the right man: Atkins, who had already written nine crime novels.
“Lullaby,’’ the 40th Spenser novel and the first one not written by Parker, is due out May 1. At the top of the dark blue cover are large letters, “Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby.’’ At the bottom, in smaller print: “A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins.’’
Since the first Spenser book, “The Godwulf Manuscript,’’ appeared in 1973, the series has been hugely popular, with millions of copies sold in the United States and at least 22 other countries. A made-for-TV series starring Robert Urich as the street-smart, wise-cracking Boston detective with a soft spot for underdogs ran from 1985 to 1988.
Keeping a popular series alive after the author’s death is not uncommon. After Ian Fleming died, successors took over his James Bond series. When Robert Ludlum died in 2001, his character Jason Bourne continued with Eric Van Lustbader. Others took over for V.C. Andrews, Michael Crichton, and Dick Francis.
In fact, Parker himself did exactly the same thing. Three decades after his hero Raymond Chandler died in 1959, Parker finished “Poodle Springs,’’ the Philip Marlowe book that Chandler had started, and then wrote another.
Parker’s own Jesse Stone series, about a small-town police chief, has already been continued by Michael Brandman. “Killing the Blues’’ made the New York Times bestseller list when it was published last September.
But Spenser is Parker’s most famous creation. Atkins is under contract for three Spenser books and has already started writing the second, “Wonderland,’’ set in Revere, about casino gambling.
Read the entire article here: Atkins, for hire, helps keep detective ‘Spenser’ on the case – Boston.com.