Two of my favorite authors passed away this year — Robert Parker of Spencer and Jesse Stone fame, on January 18, and Dick Francis, retired Steeplechase jockey and writer of English murder and mayhem on February 14.
Both were prolific, Parker had over 73 novels of fiction and non-fiction under his belt and Francis had 46 novels with one about to come out in the spring that he coauthored with his son Felix.
I first met the writings of Robert Parker way back in 1980 when I read “Looking for Rachel Wallace.” It was the first time that I discovered Spencer that dashing Boston detective, who recited poetry, boxed like Ali, cooked a mean spaghetti sauce and solved crimes better than Hercule Poirot. Spencer, together with his girlfriend Susan, friend Hawk and dog Pearl, was always able to solve the crime, figure out a way to effectively punish the bad guys and still have time to cook a great meal in the end. I was hooked and eagerly awaited the release of each Spencer adventure. The TV series, “Spencer for Hire” starring Robert Urich was based on the novels. Jesse Stone also sprang from Parker’s Penand was made into a TV movie starring Tom Selleck.
Dick Francis penned many stories of the “who dunnit” variety featuring heroes that were usually jockeys, ex-jockeys, horse trainers or horse transporters. Reading his books took me on a whirlwind tour of the English countryside and beyond. Through his books I discovered Bangers & Mash, Bubble & Squeak and Shepherd’s Pie, just to name a few English dishes, as well as a slew of trivia that I will probably never use, but nevertheless still retain in my grey matter.
Each author’s books provided me with hours of entertianment. Whether it was summer on the beach reading or commuting on the subway to and from work their novels kept me page turning and learning in the most enjoyable way.
So to both men – thanks for the mysteries. JDelBuono@cnglcoal.com.