Spencer was the second PI that sparked my interest in the genre (and I liked Hawk, too--maybe even more than Spencer, but don't tell anybody). Pale Kings and Princes was the first of Parker's books I read, and I still enjoy it now and then. I think I like the way the words sound of the page. But I also like the mix of hard-boiled action and the characterization Parker gave to even the smallest characters. His victims were victims and he let you see it. That's something that impressed me early and an aspect I've always tried to keep in my work. His books had humor and and Spencer felt real (I still remember a scene from Princes where he's in a hotel room eating tuna fish sandwiches he had to make himself and his thoughts were funny) and I couldn't get enough.
It's been a long time since I've read any of Parker's books (yes, I'm one of those people) but I always paid attention when he had a new one out. Always had to give it a peek.
So long, Robert.