Recommend novels similar to Robert B. Parker "Spenser" series

I started reading his Spenser series after hearing of his death last year. Being from the Boston area myself, I loved how he interwove so many details about the place into the stories.

I loved them so much that I started at the beginning and read every novel available on Kindle until…

Unfortunately, the stories got pretty darn bad about the mid 80s. I have had Bad Business on my Kindle now for months with only a few chapters left to read, but I can’t get myself to finish it, due to how bad and boring it is. I may try other novels, but I really hate how two-dimensional and unbelievable the characters seem to have become (it’s like they only do right and are completely successful at life and have no drama to them at all). Frankly, it seems so far like Parker was just phoning the books in after Spenser For Hire (hopefully I’m wrong).

Can anyone else recommend similar novels that depict the Boston area?

The Spenser novels get better in the 1990’s. Parker was often hit or miss. He’d write a great one, then a so-so one.

The author went through a difficult separation in the mid 80’s that carried over into the books. I find several books written in that period pretty bad.

I suggest the Jesse Stone series written by Parker. It’s set in a suburb outside Boston. Jesse is a former LA homicide detective. Takes a police chief job and solves murders.

Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole novels are similar, but set mostly in LA. He has a partner, Joe Pike, who is kind of his Hawk, with the same type of camaraderie.

Parker admired Raymond Chandler. The Spenser character was similar to Philip Marlowe. Parker even finished writing the final unfinished Chandler novel for his estate. Poodle Springs reads just like the other classic Philip Marlowe novels.
I’m currently rereading Chandler. They are somewhat dated, but still very good.

Wow, thanks. I just reread his his Wikipedia page and see that he was kinda separated from his wife, though lived in the same townhouse. That must have been added within the past few months (by you?;)).

I’ll check out one of the Stone novels.

There’s a series of Detroit-based detective stories by Loren Estlemen that I quite enjoyed (except for the sleazy cheap shot he took at Parker in one story, in which the protagonist picks up a Spenser book to read on a stake-out and calls it “trash” or some-such). Amos Walker is the character’s name.

I loved, loved, loved all of the Parker series’, and always forgave the weak outings. He also wrote the Sunny Randall series, apparently at the behest of Helen Hunt. I was sort of ambivalent in the later years with the cross-overs (with protagonists from one series popping up occasionally in the others), but as I said, I usually gave Parker a pass for things that I liked less than his usual. I was in China when he died, and I was somewhat shocked when I realized from something that I was reading that I’d missed the news.

Oh, and a few more that are further afield:

The Stephanie Plum books are fun, and generally much lighter-hearted than most of Parker’s. There’s something about the way that the author (who’s name escapes me at the moment) writes dialogue that reminds me of Parker. And, since the dialogue was always my favourite aspect of Parker’s books, I enjoy them. Definately a far stretch from Parker in general, though.

Glen Cook wrote a fantasy-based series of pulp detective fiction, much in the flavour of Ramond Chandler. There are a dozen or so books in the Garrett series, all with names based on metals (“Sweet Sliver Blues”, “Dread Brass Shadows”, etc.).

I too was/am a huge fan of Parker, but found he got pretty formulaic later on. A detective/PI series I highly recommend is Stephen Greenleaf’s John Marshall Tanner series, set mostly in San Francisco. Literate, self-aware protagonist, good plots, etc., so do please try Stephen Greenleaf. Frankly, I was crushed when he ended his run. (But at least you know there’s an end point!) Again: Stephen Greenleaf (author), John Marshall Tanner (detective).

edited to add: the novels I recommend don’t encompass Boston, but if you like PI books, hopefully, you’ll give them a shot.

Janet Evanovich. My wife loves the Stephanie Plum books.

You might like George Pelecanosstuff. Most of it set in DC in the Go-Go era of the 1980’s. Hell to Pay would be a good entry book.

He’s hardboiled for sure.

Raymond Chandler. That guy could write with a turn of phrase that would sound cheesy from anyone else but worked naturally for Chandler.