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Chasing the Bear
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Robert B. Parker lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Parker introduces young readers to private investigator Spenser, star of his bestselling adult novels, at age 14. Short chapters and Spenser's signature quick-fire delivery propel the story, which reveals the ways young Spenser uses the survival skills and scruples passed on to him by his loving, wise father and the two uncles who are raising him in a small town ("They took turns with everything.... So none of them got ground down, so to speak, by being the only parent"). Knowing when to defend himself and when to run away comes in handy when the teen encounters a black bear in the woods, rescues his friend from her drunken, gun-toting father and is ambushed by a gang of racist thugs after he protects a bullied Mexican peer. The narrative alternates between the youth's adventures and the reminiscences of an adult Spenser, who appears with his longtime love interest, Susan, in less compelling, present-day chapters in which he-at her prodding-offers insight into his past. Carefully tempered emotion, full-throttle suspense and subtle humor should win Parker's (Edenville Owls) detective enthusiastic new fans. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Gr 7 Up-Parker's well-known detective hero, Spenser, reminisces to his beloved wife, Susan, about his Western childhood and workingman values bestowed upon him by his father and two uncles. The flashbacks derive from the lad's motherless household, in which Spenser is encouraged to throw punches at his uncles, who were accomplished boxers, and to learn how to defend himself against bullies. In another memory, young Spenser comes face to face with an angry black bear while bird hunting and stands his ground, though he is ultimately saved by his father's more powerful gun. This incident mentally prepares him for the dramatic tracking and rescue of a friend who was abducted by her abusive and alcoholic father. Parker's portrayal of Spenser's bravado in facing the bowie knife-wielding individual and escaping downriver is a compelling page-turner, and the man's demise shocking. This glimpse into the past explains much of the adult Spenser's backbone, though the stop-and-reflect method of storytelling may appeal more to adults than to teens who like their action uninterrupted, such as in his Edenville Owls (Philomel, 2007). Parker's dialogue-driven style and spare vocabulary are comparable to Gary Paulsen's The Beet Fields (Delacorte, 2000).-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

A clean, sharp jab of a read. "Booklist" ?A clean, sharp jab of a read.? ?"Booklist" "A clean, sharp jab of a read." - "Booklist" "A clean, sharp jab of a read." - "Booklist"

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