The Judas Goat (Spenser Series #5)

The Judas Goat (Spenser Series #5)

by Robert B. Parker


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Spenser has gone to London -- and not to see the Queen. He's gone to track down a bunch of bombers who've blown away his client's wife and kids. His job is to catch them. Or kill them. His client isn't choosy.

But there are nine killers to one Spenser -- long odds. Hawk helps balance the equation. The rest depends on a wild plan. Spenser will get one of the terrorists to play Judas Goat -- to lead him to others. Trouble is, he hasn't counted on her being very blond, very beautiful and very dangerous.

"Spenser is Boston's answer to James Bond...with a little Sam Spade and Nero Wolfe thrown in...Irreverent, witty, worldly...makes for fast, amusing reading." (Pittsburgh Press)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780891903710
Publisher: Amereon LTD.
Publication date: 06/01/1983
Series: Spenser Series , #5
Pages: 181
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Robert B. Parker was the author of seventy books, including the legendary Spenser detective series, novels featuring Chief Jesse Stone, and the acclaimed Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch westerns, as well as the Sunny Randall novels. Winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award and long considered the undisputed dean of American crime fiction, Parker died in January 2010.

Date of Birth:

September 17, 1932

Date of Death:

January 18, 2010

Place of Birth:

Springfield, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971

Read an Excerpt

Hugh Dixon’s home sat on a hill in Weston and looked out over the low Massachusetts hills as if asphalt had not been invented yet. It was a big fieldstone house that looked like it ought to have vineyards, and the front entrance was porticoed. It didn’t look like the kind of place where they have much truck with private cops, but you can’t judge a house by its portico. I parked in the lower parking lot as befitted my social status and climbed the winding drive to the house. Birds sang. Somewhere out of sight on the grounds I could hear a hedge being clipped. The bell made the standard high-tone chime sound in the house when I pushed the button, and while I waited for a servant to let me in I checked my appearance reflected in the full-length windows on each side of the door. There was no way to tell, looking at me, that I only had $387 in the bank. Three-piece white linen suit, blue striped shirt, white silk tie and mahogany loafers with understated tassels that Gucci would have sold his soul for. Maybe Dixon could hire me to stand around and dress up the place. As long as I kept my coat buttoned you couldn’t see the gun.
The servant who answered was Asian and male. He wore a white coat and black trousers. I gave him my card and he let me stand in the foyer while he went and showed it to someone. The floor of the foyer was polished stone, and opened into a two-storied entry room with a balcony running around the second story and white plaster frieze around the ceiling. A grand piano sat in the middle of the room and an oil portrait of a stern person was on the wall over a sideboard.
The servant returned and I followed him through the house and out onto the terrace. A man with a huge torso was sitting in a wheel chair with a light gray blanket over his lap and legs. He had a big head and thick black hair with a lot of gray and no sideburns. His face was thick-featured with a big meaty nose and long earlobes. The servant said, “Mr. Dixon,” and gestured me toward him. Dixon didn’t move as I walked over to him. He stared out over the hills. There was no sign of a book or magazine. No indication of paperwork, portable radio, TV, just the hills to look at. In his lap was a yellow cat, asleep. There was nothing else on the terrace. No other furniture, not even a chair for me.
From this side of the house I couldn’t hear the clippers anymore.
I said, “Mr. Dixon?”
He turned, just his head, the rest of him motionless, and looked at me.
“I’m Spenser,” I said. “You wanted to talk to me about doing some work for you.”
Full front, his face was accurate enough. It looked the way a face should, but it was like a skillful and uninspired sculpture. There was no motion in the face. No sense that blood flowed beneath it and thoughts evolved behind it. It was all surface, exact, detailed and dead.
Except the eyes. The eyes snarled with life and purpose, or something like that. I didn’t know exactly what then. Now I do.
I stood. He looked. The cat slept. “How good are you, Spenser?”
“Depends on what you want me to be good at.”
“How good are you at doing what you’re told?”
“Mediocre,” I said. “That’s one reason I didn’t last with the cops.”
“How good are you at hanging in there when it’s tough?”
“On a scale of ten, ten.”
“If I hire you on for something will you quit in the middle?”
“Maybe. If, for instance, you bullshitted me when we started and I got in and found out I’d been bullshitted. I might pack it in on you.”
“What will you do for twenty thousand dollars?”
“What are we going to do, Mr. Dixon, play twenty questions until I guess what you want to hire me for?”
“How much you think I weigh?” Dixon said.
“Two forty-five, two fifty,” I said. “But I can’t see under the blanket.”
“I weigh one hundred eighty. My legs are like two strings on a balloon.”
I didn’t say anything.
He took an 8 × 10 matted photograph out from under the blanket and held it out to me. The cat awoke and jumped down, annoyed. I took the picture. It was a Bachrach photo of a handsome fortyish woman and two well-bred-looking girls in their late teens. Vassar maybe, or Smith. I started to hand it back to him. He shook his head, left once, right once. “No,” he said, “you keep it.”
“Your family?”
“Used to be, they got blown into hamburg by a bomb in a restaurant in London a year ago. I remember my daughter’s left foot was on the floor next to me, not attached to the rest of her, just her foot, with her cork-soled shoe still on. I’d bought her the shoe that morning.”
“I’m sorry” didn’t have the right ring for a moment like that so I didn’t try. I said, “That how you ended up in the chair?”
He nodded once down, once up. “I was in the hospital for nearly a year.”
His voice was like his face, flat and accurate and unhuman. There was a stillness in him that only his eyes denied.
“And I got something to do with this.”
He nodded again. Once up, once down. “I want them found.”
“The bombers?”
“You know who they are?”
“No. The London police say it’s probably a group called Liberty.”
“Why would they blow you up?”
“Because we were where they threw the bomb. They did not know us, or care about us. They had other things to think about and they blew my entire family into garbage. I want them found.”
“And that’s all you know?”
“I know what they look like. I was awake through it all, and I lay there and looked at each of them and memorized their faces. I’d know every one of them the minute I saw them. That’s all I could do. I was paralyzed and I couldn’t move and I looked at them as they stood in the rubble and looked at what they’d done, and I memorized everything about them.”
He took a manila folder out from under the blanket and gave it to me. “A Scotland Yard detective and an artist came with one of those drawing packs while I was in the hospital and we made these pictures and I gave them the descriptions.”
“In the folder were nine Identikit sketches of young people, eight men and a woman, and ten pages of typewritten descriptions.
“I had copies made,” he said. “The pictures are pretty good. All of them.”
“Do I keep these too?” I said.
“You want me to find these people?”
“Yes. I’ll give you twenty-five hundred dollars a head, twenty-five thousand for the lot. And expenses.”
“Dead or alive?”
“Either one.”
“I don’t do assassinations.”
“I’m not asking you to do assassinations. But if you have to kill one or all of them, you still get paid. Either way. I just want them caught.”
“And what?”
“And whatever you do with murderers. Brought to justice, punished. Jailed. Executed. That’s not your problem. I want them found.”
“Where do I start looking?”
“I don’t know. I know what I’ve told you. I suppose you should start in London. That’s where they killed us.”
I don’t think the pronoun was a mistake. He was mostly dead too.
“Okay. I’ll need some money.”
From his shirt pocket he took a card and held it out to me. I took it and read it. It said, “Jason Carroll, Attorney at Law.” Classy. No address, just the name and title.
“He’s at One Hundred Federal Street,” Dixon said. “Go there and tell him how much you need.”
“If I’m going to London I’ll need a lot.”
“Doesn’t matter. You say. When can you go?”
“Fortunately I’m between cases,” I said. “I can leave tomorrow.”
He said, “I had you checked out. You’re between cases a lot. Twenty thousand dollars is the biggest money you’ve ever seen. You’ve been minor league all your life.”
“Why waste all that bread on a minor leaguer then?”
“Because you’re the best I could get. You’re tough, you won’t cheat me, you’ll stick. I heard that from my people. I also heard that sometimes you think you’re Captain Midnight. Mostly that’s why you stayed in the minors, I heard. For me that’s good. A hungry Captain Midnight is just what I need.”
“Sometimes I think I’m Hop Harrigan,” I said.
“No matter. If I could do this myself I would. But I can’t. So I’ve got to hire you.”
“And sometimes you think you’re Daddy Warbucks. Just so it’s all straight between us. I’ll find these people for you. I’m not only the best you can get. I’m the best there is. But the things I won’t do for money are one hell of a lot more numerous than the things I will do.”
“Good. A little ego doesn’t hurt. I don’t care what you do or what your philosophy of life is or whether you’re good or bad or if you wet the bed at night. All I care about is these nine people. I want them. Twenty-five hundred a head. Dead or alive. The ones you get alive I want to see. The ones you get dead, I want proof.”
“Okay,” I said. He didn’t offer to shake hands. I didn’t offer to salute. He was staring out at the hills again. The cat jumped back up in his lap. “And you want me to keep the picture of your family?” I said.
He didn’t look at me. “Yes. Look at it every morning when you get up and remember that the people you’re after blew them into mincemeat.”
I nodded. He didn’t see me. I don’t think he saw anything. He looked at the hills. The cat was already asleep again in his lap. I found my way out.

Table of Contents

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Judas Goat (Spenser Series #5) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
g-reader More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Robert B. Parker is the master of mystery writing. Every book he writes is wonderful. You just can't put them down!!
bezoar44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first Robert Parker novel I've read; an obituary described his writing as having lifted the voice of hard boiled detective fiction out of the noir context, and into a happier, lighter world. I was curious to see what that would be like. I found myself liking Spenser, the narrator, immensely: he's unimpressed with wealth or power, self-confident, faithful to his commitments. His banter with his black colleague Hawk shows that he's not a racist, that he's not paralyzed by white guilt and can actually have a black friend; he appreciates attractive women but fights off temptation and stays faithful to his lover -- and manages great erotically charged conversations with her. Plus, he's got a heart of gold, and tries to avoid unnecessary brutality.Then I stepped back, and started thinking about Parker the author, and the frame of the story. Part of why Spenser comes off as so personally sympathetic is that Parker throws him a series of racist, misogynist tropes to disavow. Hawk is the mysterious black Other -- cool and controlled, but with animal violence just waiting to erupt, and unconstrained sexuality. The femme fatale is a nymphomaniac who doesn't really have a character of her own; she's there to tempt Spenser and illustrate Hawk's sexual charisma. Ultimately, the world Parker creates is pretty repugnant. I wonder if Parker intended it to be read ironically, or if he just used the tropes he had at hand without feeling any particular responsibility for them.
dickcraig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of my more favorite Spencer novels. Spencer is hired by a wealthy tycoon to track down a terrorist gang. He will get paid $2500 for each captured or killed. The chase begins in London, where he is joined by Hawk. The action moves to the Montreal Olympic Games. The Judas, or the person who betrays the group, is encountered early and is followed by Spencer throughout the story. I thought it was a decent plot and since I love Hawk so much, his early entry in the story made it that more enjoyable. I love the relationship between Hawk and Spencer.
tvoskuhl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you like Spenser this is one of the two best Spenser books out there (Catskill Eagle is the other one).
Gilbert_M_Stack More than 1 year ago
A “Judas goat” is an animal trained to lead a herd (sheep, cattle) into a pen and quite often to slaughter. It’s a very apt title for this early Spenser novel in which the detective is hired to track down nine people who tossed a bomb into a London restaurant, crippling the client and murdering his wife and two daughters. There are no real leads, so Spenser takes an ad out in the paper offering a reward for information about the killers hoping they will do something to give him that one all-important lead. They do and the lead he gets is a look at one of the women attached to the group—a woman he uses to lead him to all of the others. One of the peculiar things about this novel is there is a lot of “waiting” in it—waiting while conducting surveillance, waiting to see if there really are assassins in Spenser’s rooms and whether or not they will tip their hands, etc. Somehow, Parker manages both to show how difficult Spencer finds it to maintain his focus through these periods and yet at the same time make them very interesting to the reader. I was surprised to learn that there can be so much tension in waiting. Naturally there is quite a lot of nail-biting action as well. Parker’s novels move quickly from first page to last and always leave you satisfied.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great story from the late Robert Parker.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love thus story because it introduces the Spenser hawk team that makes Parkers series so classic. I have read all the books several times, thus one is a go-to when I have an afternoon go spend with two old friends, Spenser and Hawk.
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BronxAngelReview More than 1 year ago
Another excellent Spencer adventure. Parker with be missed.
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