Someone to Watch Over Me by Ace Atkins

Someone to Watch Over Me by Ace Atkins
Publisher: G. P. Putman’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In the latest thriller featuring the legendary Boston PI, Spenser and his young protégé Mattie Sullivan take on billionaire money manager running a network of underaged girls for his rich and powerful clients.

Ten years ago, Spenser helped a teenage girl named Mattie Sullivan find her mother’s killer and take down an infamous Southie crime boss. Now Mattie–a college student with a side job working for the tough but tender private eye–dreams of being an investigator herself. Her first big case involves a fifteen-year-old girl assaulted by a much older man at one of Boston’s most prestigious private clubs. The girl, Chloe Turner, only wants the safe return of her laptop and backpack. But like her mentor and boss, Mattie has a knack for asking the right questions of the wrong people.

Soon Spenser and Mattie find ties between the exploitation of dozens of other girls from working class families to an eccentric billionaire and his sadistic henchwoman with a mansion on Commonwealth Avenue. The mystery man’s wealth, power and connections extend well beyond Massachusetts – maybe even beyond the United States. Spenser and trusted ally Hawk must again watch out for Mattie as she unravels a massive sex-trafficking ring that will take them from Boston to Boca Raton to the Bahamas, crossing paths with local toughs, a highly-trained security company, and an old enemy of Spenser’s–the Gray Man–for a final epic showdown.

Mattie Sullivan is approached to help a teenaged friend to recover the backpack and laptop that she left when she fled a “massage” appointment that turned into more than the kid expected. After being escorted off the premises by security and realizing she was in over her head, Mattie turns to Spenser for a hand in recovering her friend’s property. What began as a creep hiring teenage girls to massage him quickly snowballs into sex trafficking and some real heavyweights putting pressure on Spenser, Mattie, and those whom they hold dear.

In many ways this reminds me of the much earlier Spenser novels. A seemingly straight forward case and an interesting set of characters looking to Spenser for some help. The case gets deeper and more complicated, but Spenser manages to rise above it all and keep plugging away. This is the heart of soul of the Spenser novels that I absolutely adore and thoroughly enjoy.

While I understand many readers lost a lot of the appeal when Ace Atkins took over, I have to admit this is one of my favourite Spenser novels – particularly out of the last half dozen or so. I admit quite a bit of reality needs to be suspended – Spenser first appeared around 1973 so he’d be seriously past his prime now in the mid 2020s, yet Spenser has not aged very much at all in the book world. Add on the fact he’s just got Pearl the third in puppy form – another factor in just how much time has progressed – yet Spenser seemingly hasn’t aged very much either with his physical stamina or with his mental sharpness. All this needs to be carefully overlooked and not thought about. But I have to admit with such an interesting plot and a really good pace I still found myself highly enjoying this book.

Readers who are new to this series don’t really need to read much – if any – of the previous books to my mind. While yes there are a number of recurring characters, I feel the author does a good job of highlighting the friendships and camaraderie between them and I feel the book can be thoroughly enjoyed just by itself and not in conjunction with any of the previous stories.

Readers looking for an American style hardboiled detective story with a fair bit of lighthearted banter and a solid plot should find this a good read.

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