God Save The Child

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God Save The Child

By Robert B.Parker (1974)

God Save The Child is the second book of the Spenser series.  14 year old Kevin Bartlett disappears and everyone thinks he runs away from home. As Spenser digs into investigation, it shows that the child Kevin grows up in a home devoid of parental love. Out of desperation, he got involved with strange people as friends.

His mother Marge Bartlett is so busy with acting classes, community events, getting drunk that she seem to have no time for her children. Roger the father, seems the more stable parent, but he is also largely an absent parent. He is gone for days at a time to oversee his construction business. Right from the start, when the went to see Spenser to hire him to find Kelvin, both of them have been quarrelling. Quarrels and fights seem common in the household.

“You want mayonnaise?” he asked me.
“Please,” I said. He put a plate of sliced turkey, a jar of mayonnaise, some bread-and butter pickles, and a loaf of oatmeal bread on the table. “Help yourself,” he said.
“My God, Roger,” Marge Bartlett said. “Is that how you’re going to feed him? No plate? No napkins? Can’t you even make a salad? We have those nice mugs for beer that Dolly and I bought you.”

“It’s a lot better than the way you’re feeding him,” Bartlett answered. “Or me.”
“Oh certainly. I should be cooking a big meal when my very life has been threatened. I should be keeping your supper warm in the oven when you won’t even come home from work to protect me.”
“Christ! Trask was here and Paul Marsh and Earl. I was way the hell and gone out past Worcester on a job.”
“Well, why don’t you work closer to home, anyway? You’re never around when I need you.”
“I can’t find enough work close to home to pay for all the god-damned Scotch you drink,”

“You bastard,” she said and threw her drink at him. A little Scotch spattered on my turkey sandwich. Not a bad combination.

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Kelvin gets involved with a strange muscle man Harroway. It was like a homosexual relationship with this man. When Spenser brought Kelvin’s parents Roger and Marge to get him, he was unwilling to go with them and says he does not want to leave Harroway. It was from that encounter that tested the people around Kelvin who loved him.

I dont encourage homosexuality and neither am I for it. However, I feel that everyone has their own right and freedom to live their life as they want to. In this story, I am amazed that the big brutish muscle man Harroway actually loved Kelvin a lot. Even Spenser acknowledged that in this story. He was relating to Susan about the encounter.

“You know,” I said, “he was a nasty, brutish, mean sonova bitch. But he loved that kid.”
“They all do,” Susan Silverman said.
“You mean his mother and father?” She nodded. “Yeah, you’re right,” I said,”they do. You should have seen that henpecked, browbeaten bastard try to go up against Harroway. You’ve seen what Harroway looks like, and Bartlett tried to take him. And so did she. Amazing.”

Normally Kelvin’s parents do not seem to care or brave. But in times like that, they really showed that they still loved their son.

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God save the child story is probably most notable for the introduction of Susan Silverman, the woman who will become Spenser’s long-time girlfriend and eventually the center of his world in subsequent Spenser stories. It introduced their initial meeting, and the first date where Spenser prepares one his trademark gourmet dinners only to realize after the fact that he just served pork to a Jewish woman, and the second date where work causes him to be very late and Susan is understandably miffed.

Note : Religiously observant Jews do not eat pork because land animals must have both split hooves and chew their cud in order to be kosher. This means that although pigs are the most well known forbidden animal, they are just one of countless animals that are not allowed according to the laws of kashrut
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