Goodreads ~ Appie Knoll is the kind of suburb where kids grow up right. But something is wrong. Fifteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett disappears. Everyone thinks he's run away - until the comic strip ransom note arrives.
It doesn't take Spenser long to get the picture - an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends ... friends like Vic Harroway, body builder. Mr. Muscle is Spenser's only lead and he isn't talking ... except with his fists. But when push comes to shove, when a boy's life is on the line, Spenser can speak that language too.
Spenser is a private investigator in Boston. He has been hired to find Kevin Bartlett, a missing 15-year-old boy, by his parents. At first no one is sure whether Kevin was kidnapped or ran away (he comes from a dysfunctional home and may have had enough). Eventually his parents receive a ransom note. Kevin's parents pay the randsom but Kevin isn't returned. As Spenser investigates, he discovers a link between Kevin and a body builder named Vic Harroway. Did Harroway kidnap Kevin or is Kevin with him willingly?
This is the second in the Spenser series (there are currently 46, with the last six written by Ace Atkins after Parker's death in 2010). I've read many in the series over the years (and have enjoyed the series) but I can't remember where I'd jumped in. I know I hadn't started at the beginning so that's why I decided to read them from the beginning. Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone.
I liked the writing style ... I find it humorous at times. This book was written and is set in the 1970s so is dated with some of its references. It's written in first person perspective in Spenser's voice. Spenser is a tough guy with a wisecracking sense of humour. In this book, he meets and gets together with his longtime love interest, Susan Silverman (she's not annoying in this book). As a head's up, there is some swearing.