July 22, 1996 12:00 PM

by Robert B. Parker

There is nothing the least bit chancy about Parker’s Spenser novels. The mono-monikered private eye has hardly changed since his debut in 1973; he may be older, but he’s still the same hard-boiled, softhearted shamus, and though the dialogue has become terser, he and Susan and Hawk still engage in the same loose banter.

Though much of the action in Chance takes place in Las Vegas, not Boston, Spenser is mixed up with the usual lowlifes, is trailing someone who doesn’t want to be found, and engineers an outcome that once again satisfies his particular moral code.

The Spenser formula is either reassuring or tedious, depending on one’s point of view. Yet even Parker’s most ardent fans must see that the 23-book series is due for a shakeup. Here’s an idea: Why not answer the one mystery all Spenser fans want solved—what the heck is this guy’s first name? (Putnam, $21.95)

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