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For those of us still missing the late Robert B. Parker and his iconic Spenser detective series here’s a Christmas present. Helen Brann, Parker’s longtime friend and agent has finished what was evidently his last manuscript. We understand it was to be billed as a Spenser holiday novel. Due to their long and close association Brann seems to have an unerring eye for how Parker would have wanted to complete the story. So, enjoy!

It’s Christmas time in Boston and Spenser has visions of a holiday dinner in his head when he receives a surprise visitor - Slide, an 11-year-old (“going on thirty”) street kid. The boy asks Spenser’s help for Jackie Alvarez, Slide’s mentor. Once homeless Slide found refuge at Street Business where Jackie is the director. This is an unlicensed shelter that takes in many like Slide and hopes to find jobs for them. Obviously, although the shelter receives support from Jackie’s wealthy brother, it can be a hand-to-mouth operation. Now, Jackie is receiving threats and believes someone is trying to close down Street Business. Who can say no to a kid at Christmas? Certainly not Spenser.

He calls on his pal, Hawk, to get to the bottom of the threats and soon finds it’s a deadlier situation than he had realized. A pitiless drug lord is at the bottom of it all and not only is the shelter at stake but lives as well.

Of course, Silent Night is read by the eminent Joe Mantegna who (to my knowledge) has read all of the Spenser series. He has become the voice of Spenser and a terrific one it is. He’s an accomplished Tony-Award winning actor who now stars in the popular Tv series Criminal Minds. Once again he delivers a flawless narration.

- Gail Cooke
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