Why did I love this book?
No big shock here, recommending a Spenser book, right? The iconic private eye is probably the most imitated in the genre and, for me, at least, his plotlines are usually secondary to his prose and his message.
In Early Autumn, Spenser takes on a case of a narcissistic woman (an outdated recurring theme in the early books) but quickly changes his focus to her neglected son. Spenser teaches the boy to be a man through carpentry, cooking, exercise, and boxing, using all as a vehicle for self-sufficiency. He encourages the boy to find a passion, and when Paul chooses modern dance and ballet, Spenser is supportive.
The message—self-sufficiency makes life manageable; passion makes it worthwhile.