As I make my way through the Robert B. Parker backlist (slowly--it's a big backlist), I find it interesting how he deviates from the PI story formula in some of his later (or, perhaps, middle period at this point--he's done so many) Spenser novels.
In A SAVAGE PLACE, Spenser is hired as a bodyguard for Candy Sloan, a beautiful blonde Los Angeles TV reporter. Sloan's onto a hot scoop about Mob connections in the film industry (I'm sorry--this is news?) and is determined to prove herself as more than just a pretty face and break the story. But her investigative reporting places her in harm's way. When someone beats her up badly to persuade her to stop, things look seriously dangerous for her.
On the plus side, this is a different sort of Spenser novel. He is hired as a bodyguard, not an investigator (though he manages to chime in with a question here and there, when he's on interviews with Sloan). The story has an unusual noir element to it. Spenser gets his customary one-liners in and has a particularly stunning fight scene at the end. And we are blissfully free of Susan Silverman's presence, other than in Spenser's thoughts and a few conversations.
However, the down side is that much of the dialogue descends into Sloan's nattering about how she can do her job as well as any guy, and how Spenser just doesn't understand being a woman in the man's world of television journalism, blah blah. Spenser and Sloan end up engaging in a lot of chit-chat about this man-woman stuff that gets old fast. Sloan strikes me at times as less tough than reckless. Plus Spenser (without going into spoiler detail) does something that underscores the whole double standard applied to men and women, only to reverse himself later and try to justify his contradictory behavior with the flimsiest of rationales. And, to my sorrow, Hawk makes no appearance.
If you like Spenser, it's worth a read. If you've never read the series, don't start with this one--try THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT or another of his early books.