RIP, from a reader who sincerely enjoyed their books.
'Spenser' Novelist Robert B. Parker, 'Love Story' Author Segal Die
BOSTON (Jan. 19) - Robert B. Parker, the blunt and beloved crime novelist who helped revive and modernize the hard-boiled genre and branded a tough guy of his own through his "Spenser" series, has died. He was 77.
An ambulance was sent to Parker's home in Cambridge on Monday morning for reports of a sudden death, said Alexa Manocchio, spokeswoman for the Cambridge police department.
Parker's longtime agent, Helen Brant, said that the author's widow, Joan, called her Monday right after finding him dead at his desk.
"They had had breakfast together Monday and he was perfectly fine," Brant said. "She went out to do her running and when she came back about an hour later, he was dead. We were in a complete state of shock and still cannot quite believe it."
Prolific to the end, Parker wrote more than 50 novels, including 37 featuring Boston private eye Spenser. The character's first name was a mystery and his last name emphatically spelled with an "s'' in the middle, not a "c." He was the basis for the 1980s TV series "Spenser: For Hire," starring Robert Urich.
Parker openly worshipped Raymond Chandler and other classic crime writers and helped bring back their cool, clipped style in the first "Spenser" novel, "The Godwulf Manuscript" from 1973. Within a few years, in "Looking for Rachel Wallace" and "Early Autumn," he was acclaimed as a master in his own right.
"Hard-boiled detective fiction was essentially dead in the early '70s. It was considered almost a museum thing," said Ace Atkins, author of "Devil's Garden," ''Wicked City" and several other novels. "When Parker brought out Spenser, it reinvigorated the genre. ... I wouldn't have a job now without Robert Parker."
Robert Crais, known for his Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels, said Parker "opened the doors for everyone who came after."
"For a long time, the American detective genre was defined by the big three: Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross McDonald. I would say Robert Parker is the fourth," Crais said.
Parker also was known for his Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone series. His other books included a novel inspired by the life of Jackie Robinson, "Double Play"; the Westerns "Appaloosa," ''Resolution" and "Brimstone"; and "Perchance to Dream," a sequel to Chandler's "The Big Sleep."
Parker won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and a Grand Master Edgar in 2002 for lifetime achievement. A new Jesse Stone novel, "Split Image," is scheduled to come out next month and several other books, including some Spenser novels, "in the pipeline," according to Chris Pepe, his editor at G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group.
A native of Springfield, Mass., Parker studied as an undergraduate at Colby College and received a Ph.D. in English from Boston University, where his dissertation was on Hammett and Chandler, whom he made no secret of imitating. He was teaching at Northeastern University when he created Spenser, observing later that he was inspired in part because Chandler was dead and he missed Chandler's famous detective, Phillip Marlowe.
Admirers credit Parker with not only honoring the hard-boiled style, but updating it. Unlike Marlowe and other classic characters, Spenser was not a confirmed loner, but in a solid relationship. Parker's stories also included blacks, Latinos and gays.
"He opened the door to women as readers of hard-boiled detective fiction," Crais said. "He set the stage and made a ready-made audience for authors like Sue Grafton and Sara Peretsky."
Brant, Parker's agent, said a private ceremony will take place this week to remember the author, and a public memorial, a "celebration of his life and work," is planned for mid-February in Boston.
By Mark Pratt
'Love Story' Author Erich Segal Dies
LONDON (Jan. 19) - Erich Segal, the author of the hugely popular novel "Love Story," has died of a heart attack, his daughter said Tuesday. He was 72.
Francesca Segal said her father died Sunday at his home in London. She said he had suffered from Parkinson's Disease -a neurological condition that affects movement - for 25 years. His funeral was held in London on Tuesday, she said.
Segal was a Yale classics professor when he gained nationwide fame for the book "Love Story" about a young couple who fall in love, marry and discover she is dying of cancer.
The book was turned into a hit film in 1970, starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw. It gained seven Oscar nominations - including one for Segal for writing the screenplay, as well as for best picture, best director and best actor and actress (O'Neal and MacGraw.) It won one Oscar, for best music.
Its most famous line - "Love means never having to say you're sorry" - became a national catch phrase.
Segal's daughter said that her father fought hard again Parkinson's Disease.
"That he fought to breathe, fought to live, every second of the last thirty years of illness with such mind-blowing obduracy, is a testament to the core of who he was - a blind obsessionality that saw him pursue his teaching, his writing, his running and my mother, with just the same tenacity. He was the most dogged man any of us will ever know," she said in a eulogy she read at his funeral and e-mailed to the AP.
Segal was an honorary fellow of Wolfson College at Oxford University.
He is survived by his wife, Karen James, and daughters Francesca, 29, and Miranda, 20.
By Meera Selva