While this is a good episode in the Spenser series by Parker, there is one very critical aspect, it is in this book where the character of Susan Silverman is introduced. That alone would turn even an average tale into a gem. For she is the character that turns the tough thug PI into a soft and emotionally vulnerable human being. Most of the subsequent Spenser stories would have been much weaker had she not been present. She is also an excellent sounding board for the catchy dialog that is such a hallmark of the Spenser novels. A teen boy has disappeared, and his seemingly distraught parents have come to Spenser to hire him to find the boy. It seems that he just walked out of the house with little more than his pet Guinea Pig. Very early in Spenser's questioning of the parents he understands how incredibly dysfunctional the family is. The mother is extremely demanding and seemingly totally hung up on herself while the father has reacted by becoming totally immersed in his work. Neither one seems to have spent a great deal of time on their child. The detecting aspects of the story move along at a slow pace, made much faster by the description of the early aspects of the relationship between Spenser and Susan Silverman. Although he falls for her at first sight and she seemingly reacts in kind, they do move slowly at first, largely at the insistence of Susan. As much a romance novel as it is a detective story, this is a simple book. The climactic scene where Spenser faces down the oppositional “tough guy” was predictable from the point where he is first described. Yet, the fan of Spenser does not care, for there is much more going on in this story.