This book is not so much on the mystery. It is more about Spenser taking care of a 15 year old boy Paul Giacomin. Paul is socially immature, having been ignored by his parents, only used as a pawn in their quarrelling.
Spenser sees signs of neglect about the child early in the story.He talks about it with Susan. ‘ I been with the kid. His clothes aren’t right and they don’t fit right. He doesn’t know what to do in a restaurant. No one’s ever taught him anything.” The next time Spenser saw the boy again, he seemed even thinner. In the next meeting, Spenser noticed that he put on the same pea coat and there were even two buttons missing.
In Early Autumn, Spenser takes Paul under his protection and helps mold this kid who is almost literally a lump into a strong, self-sufficient young man.
This is a very different book as it showed a different side of Spenser. From the first Spenser novel, Spenser seemed to have very loose ethics and in the first book Godwulf Manuscript, he slept with the mother and subsequently the daughter. However in this book, Spenser did not flinch even when Paul’s mother seduced him for sex. He said that he think that Paul will think less of him if he knows that Spenser has been sleeping with his mother.
Spenser took Paul to Maine and tried to teach him body building, cooking, fighting and building.
“If you lay back and let oblivion roll over you, it will be your fault. You’re old enough now to start becoming a person. And you’re old enough now so that you’ll have to start taking some kind of responsibility for your life. And I’m going to help you.”
“What’s lifting weights got to do with that stuff?”
“What you’re good at is less important than being good at something. You got nothing. You care about nothing. So I’m going to have you be strong, be in shape, be able to run ten miles, and be able to lift more than you weigh and be able to box. I’m going to have you know how to build and cook and to work hard and to push yourself and control yourself. Maybe we can get to reading and looking at art and listening to something besides situation comedies later on. But right now I’m working on your body because it’s easier to start there.”
Sometimes it tells a lot about the person when you look at the company of people he knows or mixes with. Paul’s father Mel Giacomin deals in a successful insurance agency and real estate business. Spenser saw that Mel Giacomin knew some shady characters and have his reservation about Mel Giacomin’s ‘legitimate’ business.
As you say, the father seems to have access to leg breakers. Yeah I think about that. I wonder why. Why what?
Why he has access to leg breakers. Your average suburban real estate broker doesn’t hang out with a guy like Buddy Hartman. He wouldn’t know what rock to look under. So? So what kind of work has Mel Giacomin been involved in that he would know Buddy Hartman? Maybe he sold him real estate or insurance.
I shook my head. “No. Nothing Buddy’s involved is legitimate. Buddy’d find a way to steal his insurance.”