Review: Ceremony by Robert B. Parker

This is the 9th book in the Spenser private detective series which is set in Boston. This is the first of three books that features the character April Kyle. It was a finalist for the 1983 Shamus Award for Best PI Hardcover Novel.

Book Details

Title: Ceremony
Author: Robert B. Parker
Pages: 224
Published Date: 1982
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series Details: 9th book in the Spenser series

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Publisher's Synopsis

The house looked right. And the neighborhood was perfect. And everything else was wrong. So Spenser took the parents’ money and went after a runaway girl. Unfortunately, April Kyle had already traveled two lifetimes from her suburban home. Now she was caught up in a web of pimps, criminals, and exploiters—the kind of people who won’t listen to anything but money, or a gun. . .

From the Dustjacket

Pretty teenager April Kyle is in grown-up-trouble, involved with people who'd beat her up for a dollar and kill her for five. Now she's disappeared, last seen in the Combat Zone, that side of Boston where nothing's proper, especially the sex for sale.

With Hawk, his sidekick, Spenser takes on the whole X-rated industry. From a specialty whorehouse in Providence to stylish Back Bay bordellos, he pits muscle and wit against bullets and brawn until he finds what he's looking for: April Kyle, little girl lost.

Other Reviews

New York Times Review

Robert Parker's ''Ceremony'' is . . . the best so far in his nine Spenser novels. Like Ross MacDonald, Mr. Parker deals with the retrieval and rehabilitation of runaway teen-agers. In this case, the teen-ager is April, a 16-year-old girl who has become a prostitute… - Read Full Review

Kirkus Review

Tracking down runaway teenage girls is a staple of hard-boiled shamus fiction, and that's what Boston's Spenser is up to in this slight, efficient episode--a modest comeback after the tedium of 4 Savage Place. The girl is April Kyle, a suburban high-school dropout who was befriended by guidance-counselor Susan Silverman… - Read Full Review


As the ninth work in Parker's "Spenser" series, the 1982 Ceremony is not one of Parker's better novels. Girlfriend Susan is now developed into the position she occupies for the rest of the series -- as Parker's incredibly beautiful confidant and sometimes helper with whom, years into the relationship, he has incredibly passionate sex… - Read Full Reviews

GoodReads Reviews

At the time of writing there are 232 reviews posted to the GoodReads website for an average of 4/5 stars. 

“This is one of my favorite Spenser novels, because in it the detective accomplishes two things which Parker writes about with an extraordinary combination of sympathy and cleverness: Spencer saves a troubled young person trapped in a world of vicious adults, and he does so by devising an unorthodox solution to an otherwise unsolvable moral dilemma...

You can read more of these reviews by visiting the GoodReads website.

Amazon Reviews

At the time of writing there are 143 reviews posted to the Amazon website for an average of 4.4/5 stars. You can read more of these reviews by visiting the Amazon website.

Other Shamus Best PI Novel nominees - 1983