Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ceremony by, Robert B. Parker

"She's a goddammed whore," Harry Kyle said.

Kyle's daughter, April, has dropped out of school, ran away from home, and become a prostitute in a seedy part of Boston. He doesn't seem eager to get his daughter back, but his wife is a little more caring, so she hires Spenser to find her.

Ceremony is the ninth Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker, and the first to feature April Kyle. As with all his novels, it's full of tough guy antics, beer, cooking, and interesting moral questions. What would you do with a teenage girl who is working as an underage prostitute, but doesn't want to go home and nobody at home wants her? The next paragraph discusses Spenser's solution, so if you don't want a book from 1982 spoiled, feel free to skip it.

After much thought and debate with his girlfriend, Susan Silverman, Spenser comes up with an ingenious answer to the question. He introduces April to a madam he knows in New York City. April's only marketable skill seems to be having sex for money, so Spenser figures why not let her do it in a nice place and get paid well? Instead of turning half a dozen tricks a night in alleys or parked cars, April will get to do one a night (at most) in a nice hotel and get paid well for it. She can also leave whenever she wants, which is much more understanding than your average pimp. Putting aside that underage prostitution is wrong, Spenser's solution is a humane one and probably provides the best future for April. If he returned her to her home, her parents wouldn't do anything to change, April would run away again to the life and probably get hooked on drugs or get beaten to death by her pimp or a john. With the madam, April would have a sense of security and a freedom she wouldn't have otherwise.

Two additional books feature April Kyle, Taming a Sea-Horse (#13) and Hundred-Dollar Baby (#34), which will probably be my next two Spensers.

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