Potshot (Spenser Series #28)

Potshot (Spenser Series #28)

by Robert B. Parker

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Boston P.I. Spenser returns—heading west to the rich man’s haven of Potshot, Arizona, a former mining town reborn as a paradise for Los Angeles millionaires looking for a place to escape the pressures of their high-flying lifestyles.

Potshot overcame its rough reputation as a rendezvous for old-time mountain men who lived off the land, thanks to a healthy infusion of new blood and even newer money. But when this western idyll is threatened by a local gang—a twenty-first-century posse of desert rats, misfits, drunks, and scavengers—the local police seem powerless. Led by a charismatic individual known only as The Preacher, this motley band of thieves selectively exploits the town, nurturing it as a source of wealth while systematically robbing the residents blind.

Enter Spenser, who has been hired by the comely Mary Lou Buckman to investigate the murder of her husband. The Buckmans, a pair of  L.A. transplants, moved to Potshot and started a modest outdoor tour service. It is Mary Lou’s belief that when her husband refused to pay The Preacher and his men protection money he was killed. Without any witnesses, Spenser has little to go on, and it’s clear the local police chief won’t be doing much to help. Calling on his own cadre of tried-and-true cohorts, including Vinnie Morris, Bobby Horse, Chollo, Bernard J. Fortunato, Tedy Sapp and the redoubtable Hawk, Spenser must find a way to beat the gang at their own dangerous game.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425182888
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/04/2002
Series: Spenser Series , #28
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 159,616
Product dimensions: 6.72(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books. He died in January 2010.

Date of Birth:

September 17, 1932

Date of Death:

January 18, 2010

Place of Birth:

Springfield, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

She was wearing a straw hat, pulled down over her forehead, a short flowered dress, no stockings and white high heels. A lot of blond hair showed under the hat. Her face was nearly angelic and looked about 15, though the fact that she wore a wedding ring made me skeptical. She marched into my office like someone volunteering for active duty, and sat in one of my client chairs with her feet flat on the floor and her knees together. Nice knees.

"You're Mr. Spenser."

"I am."

"Lieutenant Samuelson of the Los Angeles Police Department said I should talk to you."

"He's right," I said.

"You know about this already?"

"No," I said. "I just think everybody should talk to me."

"Oh, yes . . . My name is Mary Lou Buckman."

"How do you do Mrs. Buckman."

"Fine, thank you."

She was quiet for a moment, as if she wasn't quite sure what she should do next. I didn't know either, so I sat and waited. Her bare legs were tan. Not tan as if she'd slathered them with oil and baked in the sun-tan as if she'd spent time outdoors in shorts. Her eyes were as big as Susan's, and bright blue.

Finally she said, "I would like to hire you."


"Don't you want to know more than that?"

"I wanted to start on a positive note," I said.

"I don't know if you're serious or if you're laughing at me," she said.

"I'm not always sure myself," I said. "What would you like me to do?"

She took a deep breath.

"I live in a small town in the foothills of the Saw Tooth Mountains, called Potshot. Once it was a rendezvous for mountain men, now it's a western retreat for a lot of people, mostly fromL.A., with money, who've moved there with the idea of getting their lives back into a more fundamental rhythm."

"Back out of all this now too much for us," I said.

"That's a poem or something," she said.

"Frost," I said.

She nodded.

"My husband and I came from Los Angeles. He was a football coach, Fairfax High. We got sick of the life and moved out here, there actually. We run, ran, a little tourist service, take people on horseback into the mountains and back-nothing fancy, day trips, maybe a picnic lunch."

"'We ran a service'?" I said.

"I still run it. My husband is dead."

She said it as calmly as if I'd asked his name. No effect.

I nodded.

"There was always an element to the town," she said. "I suppose you could call it a criminal element-they tended to congregate in the hills above town, a place called the Dell. There's an old mine there that somebody started once, and they never found anything and abandoned it, along with the mine buildings. They are, I suppose, sort of contemporary mountain men, people who made a living from the mountains. You know, fur trapping, hunting, scavenging. I think there are people still looking for gold, or silver, or whatever they think is in there-I don't know anything about mining. Some people have been laid off from the lumber companies, or the strip mines, there's a few left over hippies, and a general assortment of panhandlers and drunks and potheads."

"Which probably interferes with the natural rhythm of it all," I said.

"They were no more bothersome than any fringe people in any place," she said, "until about three years ago."

"What happened three years ago?"

"They got organized," she said. "They became a gang."

"Who organized them?"

"I don't know his real name. He calls himself The Preacher."

"Is he a preacher?"

"I don't know. I think so. I don't think he's being ironic."

"And there's a problem," I said.

"The gang lives off the town. They require the businessmen to pay protection. They use the stores and the restaurants and bars and don't pay. They acquire businesses in town for less than they're worth by driving out the owners. They bully the men. Bother the women."


"We have a police chief. He's a pleasant man. Very likable. But he does nothing. I don't know if he's been bribed, or if he's afraid or both."

"Sheriff's Department?"

"The sheriff's deputies come out, if they're called." she said. "But it's a long way and when they arrive, there are never any witnesses."

"So why are you telling me all this?"

She shifted in her chair, and pulled the hem of her skirt down as if she could cover her knees, which she couldn't. She didn't seem to be wearing any perfume, but she generated a small scent of expensive soap.

"They killed my husband."

"I'm sorry," I said.

"He was in the Marine Corps. He played football in college," she said. "He was a very courageous man. An entirely wonderful man."

Her voice was flat and without inflection, as if she were reciting something she'd memorized.

"He wouldn't pay the Dell any money," she said. "So they killed him."


"No one has come forward."

"How do you know it was the, ah, Dell?" I said.

"They threatened him, if he didn't pay. Who else would it be?"

"And you want me to find out which one did it?"

"Yes and see that they go to jail."

"Can you pay?"

"Yes. Up to a point."

"We'll come in under the point," I said.

She shifted in her chair again and crossed her legs, and rested her folded hands on her thigh.

"Why didn't you just sell and get out?" I said. "Move to Park City or someplace?"

"There's no market for homes anymore. No one wants to move there because of the Dell gang."

"And you knew Samuelson from your L.A. days."

"His son played for Steve . . . my husband."

"And you asked him about getting some help and he suggested me."

"Yes. He said you were good and you'd keep your word."

"A good description," I said.

"He also said you were too sure of yourself. And not as funny as you thought you were."

"Well he's wrong on the last one," I said. "But no need to argue."

"Will you do it?

"Okay," I said.

"Just like that?"


"What are you going to do?"

"Come out and poke around."

"That's all?"

"It's a start," I said.

Table of Contents

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Potshot 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
BigDaddyGA More than 1 year ago
Parker put some extra punch in this one and brought back the Spenser and Hawk that I have loved to read about all these years. The rest of the gang that he brings in to help all jump out of the pages at you. The only thing I didn't like about the book was I finished it too quickly. I could not put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I canNOT imagine anyone giving ANY of Robert Parker's books anything less than 5 stars! This book being no exception -- it was great to have old characters brought back into action because all Parker's people are like our friends! The Spenser books are my all time favorite but I also enjoy his other hero and heroine books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MeriJenBen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Super P.I. Spenser travels to the Arizona desert to discover who murdered a local, and to "assist" the town with clearing out a gang of thugs. However, there is more than meets the eye in Potshot...Spenser, the well-read, hard boiled private eye, is called upon by wilderness outfitter Mary Lou Buckman to find out who killed her husband Steve. Mary Lou and Steve live in Potshot, an upscale southwestern community (read: Bisbee) that has been terrorized by a gang of thugs known as the Dell. Mary Lou is sure the Dell killed Steve, however, when Spenser starts to investigate, he's not so sure. Nothing is what it seems in Potshot, not even Mary Lou. Spenser attracts the attention of the town fathers, who hire him to "clean up" the Dell, which he does by bringing in his own gang of thugs, including Hawk, Vinnie, Tedy Sapp, and Chollo, all of whom appear in previous novels.I read Spenser novels for much the same reason I read the Cat Who... books, they are formulaic in the extreme. Spenser will always be stronger and more noble than everyone else. Hawk will always save his ass. Susan will always be beautiful and brilliant. The only things that change are the circumstances. This one is a little better, although it's the Spenser reader's equivalent of fan-service, with popular characters making appearances. The mystery here gets convoluted, involving a gangster, a bunch of suits, and water rights, but the interactions between characters is what will attract fans.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hail, hail, the gangs all here... Spenser gets a crew together to take on a mob of biker thugs in this foray into the desert heat. Hawk, Vinnie, Chollo, Tedy Sapp, Bobby Horse, Bernard J. Forntunato.... familiar tough guys who'll live and die by the gun. And of course, Spenser is there to lend his moral code. When a beatuiful blond appears in his office with a proposition - prove who killed her husband and take them down, Spenser agrees to investigate. The apparent culprits, a bloody gang of extorting toughs, aren't the only bad apples around, and it's time to call in the cavalry.Not a bad read, but neither as gritty, nor as deep as Parker's books can sometimes get.
shelleyraec on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of the dry wit and repartee so I enjoyed this as much as the others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Corny story line but the dialogue makes the story. Humor and even lessons on the difference between Spenser and Hawk. Loved the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
CD/Mystery: Spenser #28/This book has great banter with Spenser, Hawk, and his group of thugs. I really had fun listening to it and Joe Mantegna did a great job with the voices.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Doesn't matter what Spenser book you choose, always worth the read. I only enjoy reading them in order (characters reappear in future books and relationships evolve), but every book is more than worth the time and the humor is the best!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert B Parker has a knack for bringing the reader right into the story he is telling. I have always been a fan of the TV series ¿Spenser for Hire¿ and listening to Joe Mantegna read Mr. Parker¿s work is one of the best combinations of reader and writer I have listened to in a long time. Spenser has been hired to find out who murdered Mary Lou Buckman¿s husband in the wealthy desert town of Potshot. It is believed that a gang of misfits called The Dell is responsible but the more Spenser looks into it, the less he believes this to be true. Also, there are ties between The Dell, the murder and several people of the town¿s citizens. Is the sheriff really a good guy, what¿s the real estate agent up to, and what is a movie producer doing in this small town? A group of the Potshot¿s leaders comes to Spenser and asks him to rid them of The Dell. In order to this, Spenser hires several of his own thugs. Each has his own special personality; - a Mexican, a gay, a Native American and of course, Spenser¿s favorite partner, Hawk, along with several others who have mob connections. Mr. Mantegna has the ability to give each character his own voice so the listener has no trouble knowing who is speaking. Spenser¿s long time squeeze, Suzanne is more than a little worried as he begins this case. Mr. Parker¿s tells of the desert heat and makes it feel real. He paints a picture in words of the mountains and the people and the listener can visualize them in his/her mind from his well written descriptions. He has created each character in such a way that makes you think you might know a person like that. The final chapter brings everything to a close but not in the way a reader might expect. Potshot is a story that is hard to put down until the reader finishes the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Pot Shot Spenser assembles a crew and heads to Arizona to take on the bad guys. If you love Spenser, you will love this book because Spenser's crew includes some folks that are not always on his side. If you like the humor in the Spenser series, check out a book called The Fractal Murders; the humor is quite similar and the writing is just as good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Potshot is an improvement over recent Spenser novels. There's more mystery here, the dialogue is in top form, and many characters you haven't read about in years are brought together. I particularly liked the way that Mr. Parker arranged the plot so that Spenser's strong feelings about the right way to do things would be apparent in a new way. My only complaint (why the book got four stars instead of five) is that the last two pages of the ending made no sense to me . . . except as an extreme form of irony. Surely, Mr. Parker isn't as ironic as this seems. Or is he? You'll have to see what you think. Those pages remind me of the ending of The Maltese Falcon in some ways. Spenser is comfortably encased in his office in Boston when a new client enters, from Potshot, Arizona. The attractive Ms. Mary Lou Buckman has been recently widowed. Her husband was shot after having been threatened by a mysterious gang leader called The Preacher, who runs a protection racket. 'They killed my husband.' 'He wouldn't pay the Dell any money.' The local police are making no headway, and a mutual friend from the L.A.P.D., Lieutenant Samuelson, has recommended Spenser. Arriving in Potshot (a cross between a refurbished ghost town for yuppies and biker heaven in the weeds), everyone praises the late Mr. Buckman, agrees that The Preacher had him killed, and offers no hard evidence. A woman in town begins vamping Spenser, and he gets a sense that some things are not as portrayed. During an interview with The Preacher, he becomes convinced that someone other than the gang killed Buckman. Taking Susan for a West Coast swing to check things out, Spenser finds that the case is even hotter than he imagined. Soon, he is assembling the ultimate A-Team of shooters to take on the 40 bad guys in the Dell (The Preacher's gang). You will find Vinnie Morris, Bobby Horse, Chollo, Bernard J. Fortunato, Tedy Sapp, and Hawk on the team. This section is a little briefer than would have been ideal, but there's good fun here. The mystery and its resolution fit nicely into a typical small town Western plot. Overall, the book has quite a range. Some sections are like shoot-outs in old Westerns while other parts have funny French and literary plays on words. As a result, this book has something for almost everyone and should be quite popular. After you finish, ask yourself the question of how you can spot situations where there are more red herrings than real clues to the motives of those you are dealing with. How can you get past the red herrings? What questions should you ask? Mr. Parker's answer is that character will out. I suspect he's right. Look for character clues. If you can't find any, set up the situation to develop some. That's what Spenser's approach to sticking out his neck is all about. Bang! Who's dead now? Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
Guest More than 1 year ago
For me, the publication of a new ¿Spenser¿ novel is like opening presents on Christmas morning! There¿s always the instant rush of anticipation and excitement. In Robert Parker¿s newest edition to the series, POTSHOT, our Boston P.I. is hired by Mary Lou Buckman to investigate the murder of her husband. The Buckmans had moved from Los Angeles to Potshot, Arizona in order to run a small travel service; but, when Steve Buckman refused to pay protection money to a gang of roughnecks called the Dell, he was shot to death in broad daylight on Potshot¿s main boulevard. Spenser decides to take the case and flies out to Arizona to do a little investigating. What he soon discovers is that Mary Lou slept around with a number of men who might have wanted to see her husband dead; that the Dell (led by a man called The Preacher) is scaring folks out of Potshot; that someone is buying up the property at an alarming rate; and that he can¿t take on the Dell by himself. Flying back to Boston, Spenser enlists the aid of Hawk and Vinnie Morris. He then travels around the country to recruit Chollo, Tedy Sapp and a couple of other tough guys to help him fight the Dell. While his posse heads to Potshot, Spenser continues to check into the background of the Buckmans and discovers some things that begin to shed light on the situation in the small Arizona town. Before anything can be done, however, the Preacher and his gang of cutthroats must be dealt with. The showdown between Spenser, his men, and the forty-or-so members of the Dell is definitely worth the price of the book. What POTSHOT does is bring several of Spenser¿s acquaintances together in one story to pit them against a larger force. It¿s fun to read as Hawk and Vinnie and Tedy and Chollo try to outdo each other in the ¿toughness¿ arena. Of course, we know that Hawk and Spenser could¿ve taken on the gang by themselves and won. Still, it¿s great to see all of these other characters from past novels come together to interact with each other. I do wish the novel had been longer with more confrontations with the Dell before the final shootout. As usual, Parker¿s dialogue is crisp and funny. Spenser still has his sense of wit and humor, and isn¿t afraid to use it in front of the bad guys. That¿s probably one of the best things about Spenser, besides his code of honor. I will say that the ending left me a little confused. Without giving it away, I¿m still not exactly sure who killed Steve Buckman. It could have been one of two people. All in all, reading POTSHOT is a wonderful way to spend an evening. It¿s like getting together with an old friend for a few hours and reminiscing about the past year. Life doesn¿t get much better than this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a die-hard Spenser fan. I have not found a mystery writer who has been able to top Parker's story telling and his outstanding character study. POTSHOT was a very creative work. Parker's way of weaving an old-fashioned western novel into a Spenser story was a stroke of brilliance. Parker's involvement of all the primary co-characters was another great idea. I enjoyed their interactions immensely. My only concern is that Parker as of late has been writing novels that do not really have a finish. This is not his first time doing that. He did the same in HUGGER MUGGER. I as a reader enjoy full closure stories. While I love great character studies, I'm not into soap operas. I have and will recommend Parker at the B&N I work for, but I do hope that he concludes his next set of novels (either the next Spenser, Jesse Stone or Sunny Randall).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Book has a very disappointing ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Potshot is a very good book! I really liked it because it was very interesting of Mary Lou's husband to die. If you want a book that it's not boring and want a book that you cant take your hands off, I recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Potshot keeps to Mr. Parkers use of dialouge as the main vehicle to tell his story. I like his use of his cronies to try and keep Spenser from crossing the line from knight in shining armour to thug. It is also a great remake of The Seven Samarui or as we know it The Magnificent Seven. This didn't really dawn on me until Chollo quoted Steve McQueen. This is the second time that I've seen this movie mentioned. Overall the book is well written with the relationships between the townspeople morally bankrupt and Spenser who moves through these surburbanites with his usual ease. I liked the book and love the series but I did not like the way it ended. There was no conclusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Few books are as eagerly awaited as a new Spenser thriller, and here it is read by the inimitable Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna. The West becomes even wilder when Boston based P.I. Spenser heads in that direction - to Potshot, Arizona, a defunct mining town reborn as a mecca for the rich, a playground for California's bored wealthy. Problem is such overt wealth attracts thieves like flies to honey. Headed by a fiery type known only as The Preacher, a band of homegrown hoodlums soon threatens the residents' gold plated existence. The police are powerless. It falls to Spenser to thwart the gang and build a police force capable of keeping crime at bay. Whichever part he plays Joe Mantegna renders a stellar performance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the exception of ripping off ¿The Magnificent Seven¿ and/or ¿The Seven Samurai¿ I really enjoyed this book. Spenser heads west to Potshot, AZ. to save the town from the evil Preacher and his banditos. Spenser reunites with Hawk and four other characters from recent novels. Together they try to save the town while solving a murder. The book is easy to read, action packed and funny, it should be enjoyed by both Spenser and non-Spenser fans.