A Man Called Hawk Appears – ‘Promised Land’


Promised Land is the fourth Spenser novel written by Robert B. Parker.  It was originally published in 1977.  Of particular note here is the first appearance of Hawk.

Preceded By: Mortal Stakes
Followed ByThe Judas Goat

NOTE: This review will contain spoilers.


Real estate magnate Harvey Shepard hires Spenser to find his wife Pam who’s gone missing.  He quickly locates her and determines that for a variety of reasons she does not want to be back home.  During one discussion at Harvey’s house Spenser crosses paths with his longtime friend (and current leg breaker) Hawk.  The fact that Hawk is calling on Harvey means that Shepard is mixed up with some very bad people.

As is often the case, Spenser finds out that his intuition was right on: Hawk is currently employed by King Powers a Boston loan shark.  Spenser tries to explain to Harvey the gravity of his situation but he will hear none of it.  Before we know it, Harvey turns up with a couple of bumps and bruises courtesy of Hawk.

Meanwhile, Spenser determines that Pam Shepard wants nothing to do with Harvey and decides to leave her where she is.  Harvey (having hired Spenser to find and return her) gets very angry and fires Spenser.  Being fired has its advantages for our super sleuth and he is available to help with Pam calls with a problem.  She’s become involved (unwillingly) in a murder.  Spenser manages to solve the “case” in a tidy way that not only gets Pam & Harvey out of harms way but also manages to put away the bad guy in the process.


It had been years since I read this novel and now that I think about it it’s probably the only Spenser novel that I’d not read multiple times.  For some reason I’d misplaced my copy and had to purchase a new copy.  In fact, as I was reading it it took me a good 100 pages or so to remember the story.  That said I REALLY enjoyed this one.  Hawk has become an essential part of the Spenser Universe and to see how he came into being is a real treat for any fan.  Parker doesn’t go into a ton of detail here about how Spenser and Hawk know one another except to say that they’d known one another for quite a while from back when they were both fighters.  Its obvious during the book that Hawk and Spenser have a relationship that is more than mere acquaintances.  When Spenser essentially lets Hawk escape near the end of the book you get a sense that this is a real friendship with a ton of mutual respect.

The other relationship that’s talked about quite a bit here is between Spenser and Susan.  By this point they are obviously in love, committed to one another and in for the long run.  In fact this is the novel where Spenser asks Susan to marry him.  She obviously (since they’re not married) says no and in true Susan/Spenser fashion says something to the affect of, “It’s enough knowing that you’ve asked” or some such nonsense.

If you’re a Spenser fan this is definitely one of the good ones to go back and pick up.  If you’re a fan of Susan/Spenser together then this one will make quite a bit of their story make more sense to you.  If you’re a fan of Hawk then this is required reading and shame on you for never reading it 😉 Pick up a copy of Promised Land today!

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