Up-and-coming actress Daryl Silver wants to lay a ghost to rest. For 23 years, she has been haunted by the murder of her mother during a bank robbery, unsolved to this day despite the combined efforts of the police and FBI. Her friend Paul brings her to Spenser, the knight ever in search of a quest. The reward she offers? Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Spenser accepts.

BACK STORY is a fast-paced tale that reads like a Boys' Own adventure for grownups—lots of guns and macho posturing; a leap from a moving car and a chase through the woods pursued by an army of thugs; and a daring kidnapping by well-intentioned pirates. There are even a couple of damsels in distress. Some loyal series followers may be happy to know that Parker and Susan have a new dog; some might be disturbed to discover that it, too, is a chocolate German shorthaired pointer and named Pearl II by Susan.

Spenser's latest outing is the perfect winter vacation book and, best of all, nobody important gets killed. I just love a happy ending. (Mar., 304 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kim Colley