My first Robert B. Parker book was my first book of 2010. I was not aware that he wrote a series featuring Spenser which became the basis for "Spenser for Hire". Then Robert B. Parker died and I started reading more about him. Many, including Dennis Lehane, count him among their heroes. So I had to try one. "Small Vices" is toward the middle of the Spenser series so you get the flashbacks to other cases and relationships. Spenser is funny and smart. He has good friends and a loyal girlfriend. Sure, it's a formula but it's one that works. This was an engaging read and I enjoyed it. I will keep my eye out for more Spenser books and look forward to hanging out with him and Hawk.
**Update: There's also Pearl, the Wonder Dog. Spenser having a dog sets him apart from other detective series I read. Being connected to animal provides him with a stability other characters do not have. For example, Jack Reacher is a drifter so his hobo lifestyle does not lend itself to a pet. Solving crimes, taking down bad guys and being able to come home to a loyal dog adds a slight element of normalcy.