Spenser is in his Boston office one morning when an older, distinguished gentleman and his daughter come in. Walter Clive owns The Three Fillies, a race horse farm in Lamar, Georgia. There have been a rash of horse shootings at his enterprise, one of which was killed, one will be disabled, and one which will survive. The current security at The Three Fillies haven't been able to stop the shooting, and their best horse, Hugger Mugger, was also threatened. A groom was there and able to chase off the shooter. Clive wants Spenser to find the shooter.
Spenser agrees to take the job and travels down to Georgia. There he meets all the Clive family. The other daughters, Stoney and Susu, are married to Cord and Pud. Penny, the daughter who accompanied Walter Clive to Boston, runs the business while Walter and his mistress, Dolly Hartman, are the front people and public relations people. The family is quite dysfunctional, a situation that is compared to a Tennessee Williams' play.
Shortly after Spenser arrives in Georgia, Walter Clive is murdered. Penny lets Spenser go and he returns to Boston. A month or so later is approached by Dolly Hartman. She claims her son Jason is Clive's son. The Clive family, though, is holed up and won't see anyone. She wants Spenser to find out what is really happening and to try to get justice, and an inheritance, for her son.
Hugger Mugger is a good Spenser novel. Hawk is in France, and doesn't appear at all. Instead, Spenser makes a friend with a bouncer in a gay bar, Tedy Sapp. Sapp takes on the role Hawk often takes. Susan Silverman is always around, either in Spenser's thoughts, on the phone, or with him. Hugger Mugger is intriguing and keeps twisting around. The conclusion is fairly obvious by the end, but not imagined at the beginning.
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