This book is a classic, fun-filled, retro-orientated, good old fashioned tribute to the classic whodunit. Our favourite PI is hired by the husband of a brutally murdered woman, who was the very model of an upper middle-class wife, mother and socialite. The entire family lived in a classic well-to-do home complete with open fireplaces, studies, private libraries and even live-in house-maids. Friendships appear to spread far and wide in this story, and even the local Senator makes an appearance early on in the book to provide support to the grieving husband. But in PAPER DOLL, just like all good mysteries, nothing is what it appears and early on you get the feeling that our hero has an eye on those that hide behind corners and sit in dark blue sedans across the street.
The first half of this novel is minus Hawk and Susan but Spenser is temporarily assigned a gay detective who quickly befriends our PI and whom soon provides extensive physical and moral support to Spenser. Farrell soon becomes an interesting conversation buddy and sounding board for both Spenser as well as the reader. The trademark sarcasm and witticisms that flow between the regular characters are missed briefly and consequently this book becomes enjoyable to read from a different perspective.
The answer to the classic question of "whodunit" almost becomes irrelevant in a Spenser novel due to the almost perennially complex nature of the plots and PAPER DOLL is no exception. The answer in this case is a surprise but when you consider the "whydunit", the act of murder almost becomes understandable. As Spenser said to the killer at confession time, "... I'll get back to you... "
The story telling is top notch, and beautifully told with literally moments of terror for the reader as well as those for Spenser. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and it pays to have friends in all different shapes, sizes, colours and positions as you never know when you might need them.