When a Boston police detective's adored young bride, Lisa St. Claire, disappears without a trace, he enlists Spenser's help in tracking her down. Sleuthing from a New England college campus to the slick sports clubs of L.A., Spenser discovers all about Lisa - including her past history of prostitution, substance abuse, and self-destructive love affairs - and suspects she is being held prisoner by her sociopathic Latino ex-lover in his crumbling tenement fortress deep within the barrio of a burned-out Massachusetts mill town. Accompanied by a Chicano shooter with an ironclad attitude and an unflinching sense of honor, Spenser sets in motion a complex plan to rescue Lisa. As he wheels and deals with boozy, broken cops and messianic local warlords, he is forced to face some brutal truths and question the very meaning of passion, manhood, and justice.
In the famed Boston PI's 22nd case, an oddly sympathetic villain and a resolute heroine draw Spenser into a barrio enclave in a depressed Massachusetts factory town. Readers know that Lisa St. Clair, a radio deejay newly married to a Boston police detective, has been kidnapped and imprisoned in a Proctor, Mass. tenement by Rico, her former lover. The cop, who knows only that his wife has disappeared, is shot and seriously injured just after he asks Spenser to investigate. Chapters alternate between the room where Lisa is kept under guard and constantly running video cameras and Spenser's gradual assembling of clues. The PI discovers Lisa's former name and occupation; he thinks up a way to penetrate Proctor's divided and desperate Hispanic community, ruled by Rico and a rival. Lots of atmosphere and even suspense-Will Lisa resist Rico's demands? Can Spenser discover a way to rescue her?-are built up in short sentences and one-line paragraphs. Spenser's pal Hawk is away (his place taken briefly by the sharp L.A. crook, Chollo), and his lover, Susan, and dog Pearl are kept mostly backstage during a slightly stretched out story that, nevertheless, packs a lot of punch. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild alternate. (May)