Crime novelist known for 'Spenser' series

Robert B. Parker, the blunt and beloved crime novelist who helped revive the hard-boiled genre and branded a tough guy of his own through his “Spenser” series, died Monday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 77.

Parker’s novel “Appaloosa” was turned into a 2008 Western feature film.

Prolific to the end, Parker wrote more than 50 novels, including 37 featuring Boston private eye Spenser. The character’s first name was a mystery and his last name emphatically spelled with an “s” in the middle, not a “c.” He was the basis for the 1980s TV series “Spenser: For Hire,” starring Robert Urich.

A native of Springfield, Mass., Parker openly worshipped Raymond Chandler and other classic crime writers and helped bring back their cool, clipped style in such early “Spenser” novels as “The Godwulf Manuscript” and “God Save the Child.”

Within a few years, in “Looking for Rachel Wallace” and “Early Autumn,” he was acclaimed as a master in his own right. When Chandler died before finishing his novel “Poodle Springs,” Parker wrote the rest of the novel, which was turned into a 1998 TV film. Other TV projects were based on his novels, including telefilm “Stone Cold” and several shows based on the Jesse Stone character.

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