Crime novelist Robert Parker has died in Massachusetts at the age of 77, the New York Times is reporting. Parker is best known for penning detective novels featuring the tough Boston sleuth Spenser (no first name needed), a widely accliamed 38-book series that stretched from 1973's The Godwulf Manuscript through last year's The Professional. The books became fodder for the '80s TV series Spenser: For Hire starring Robert Urich.

Before turning to novels, Parker combined his interest with hardboiled detective fiction with his academic career. His PhD thesis included material on Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and others. Parker was teaching at Northeastern University when the first Spenser book saw publication and continued in that position until 1979. More recent Parker creations include the Jesse Stone and  Sunny Randall series. He also wrote westerns, non-fiction, and two novels featuring Chandler's Phillip Marlowe, one of them a completion of Chandler's unfinished Poodle Springs.

Asked by in 2000 if he had written a final Spenser adventure to be published after his death, Parker replied, "Oh no! That's not fair to the reader at all. Spenser will live forever, at least as long as people want to remember him, and me. And I don't want to work hard on a book that is not going to be published in my lifetime. I want the money now! And, of course, I want to see the book published."