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Book Excerpt: 'Robert B. Parker's Lullaby'

Book Excerpt: 'Robert B. Parker's Lullaby'

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Published by WBUR

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Published by: WBUR on May 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/10/2013

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I spotted the girl even before she knocked onmy door. I was gazing out my second-floor officewindow down at Berkeley Street, eating acinnamon donut and drinking coffee with a littlemilk and sugar. The girl looked lost among thebusinesspeople and tourists hustling along theicy sidewalks. She wore a pink Boston Red Soxcap and an oversized down parka with a furcollar, and stared up at the numbers on theoffice buildings where Berkeley intersectsBoylston.When she stopped at my building, she foldedup a piece of paper and crossed the street witha lot of purpose. I had an open box of 
donutsand an uncashed check on my desk from Cone,Oakes. I’d done a little work for Rita Fiore andhad been paid handsomely.
 The winter had been dark, bleak, andendless, but sometime in the last hour I had
 
actually seen the sun. My computer was playing
Helen Forrest singing with the Harry JamesOrchestra. Life was full of promise.
I had a bite of donut just as I heard the knockon the door.I opened it.
“You Spenser?” asked the girl in the pink RedSox cap.“The one and only.”“People say you’re tough,” she said.“Did they mention handsome and witty?”“That you aren’t afraid to use a gun.”“Only when my feelings get hurt.”Her accent was South Boston, maybeDorchester. Henry Higgins could have told meher exact address. I figured her for fifteen orsixteen. She stood about five- foot- five withstraight reddish brown hair spilling from the Soxcap. Her eyes were green and very large, madeslightly ridiculous with heavy eyeliner.“You really a private investigator?” she asked.“Says so on the door.”“And you didn’t get your license from theInternet or anything?”“No.”“Were you a cop or something?”“Or something.”“Thrown off the force for drinking?”“No.”“Police brutality?“No.”“Then why aren’t you a cop now?”
 
“I don’t play well with others,” I said. “Wouldyou like to come in?”She peered around me into my office, checkingout my desk, two file cabinets, and the couchwhere Pearl slept when it was take-your-dog-to-work day. I extended my hand toward my guestchair and sat behind my desk. She joined me.
 The girl had a full face with ruddy cheeks, acouple of moles on the right side. A cute kid if she’d sit up straight. But she slouched into herchair and nervously toyed with a SaintChristopher medal.“Who busted your nose?” she asked.
“Jersey Joe Walcott,” I said.“Who’s he?”“Former heavyweight champ,” I said. “Beforeyour time.”I pushed the box of donuts toward her. Shelooked down at my carefully chosen assortment. Then she looked back at me, still playing with themedal, and shook her head. I let the silence hangthere for a moment. I figured if I waited longenough, she might tell me why she was in needof my services. After a long pause, she did.“Somebody killed my mom.”I took a deep breath and leaned forward.“When?”“Four years ago,” she said.“I’m sorry.”“I want to find the bastards.”“Okay.” I nodded. “Why now?”“Nobody listens to kids,” she said. “I’m older

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