Three stars--about what I expect from a Spenser story, without much that distinguishes it from others. Spencer's out to fix an art ransom gone awry, and has to work with his old friends in the police force to do it. Belson, Quirk and Healy all make appearances, but we don't see of his more unusual outside-the-law friends on this one. Susan, of course, is ever present, but the scenes with her became rather repetitive. He cooks, she pretends to eat, they have sex then refer to it in arch tones the rest of the scene. I thought it also odd that her 'Jewishness' wasn't brought up sooner when they were discussing Holocaust issues, since Spenser and Parker usually make a mention of it at some point, and her ethnic identity has played a role in other books. It's not a large absence, but it's small notes like that that help individual Spenser books rise to the top. The mystery wasn't too surprising--I had actually figured out the situation--but was believable. There's a charming scene with Pearl and a new friend Otto that becomes a reoccurring event, and provides a link to an expert.Later Spenser books mostly make me miss early Spenser books, which are rich in detail and thought; Painted Ladies, like most recent Spenser stories, sometimes seems more of an outline than a full book.