Crime novelist Robert B. Parker dies at 77

NEW YORK Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:50pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bestselling novelist Robert B. Parker, who created the Spenser detective novels that became a television series, has died at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his representative said on Tuesday. He was 77.

Parker, who wrote nearly 40 novels featuring the tough Boston private investigator Spenser, died on Monday, said Michael Barson at publisher G.P. Putnam and Sons. The cause of death was unknown.

The author, whose series was turned into the 1980s TV series "Spenser: For Hire", wrote more than 60 books that were often set in the Boston area. He also penned books aimed at young adults.

Parker was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and received a PhD degree in English literature from Boston University before his first novel was published in 1973.

He earned several crime writing awards, including an Edgar Award in 1977 from the Mystery Writers of America for best novel for his fourth book in the Spenser series, "Promised Land," which later became the pilot program for the TV series.

Besides Spenser, whose first name is never revealed in the novels, Parker created several detective characters including his more recent protagonist, Jesse Stone, a former minor league baseball player.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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