Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sixkill by Robert B. Parker

Sixkill, the 39th Spenser novel, was also the last book by Robert B. Parker. Ace Atkins will write future books in the series, as agreed by the estate. Other families have tried to continue series with mixed results. Robert Goldsborough wrote seven books about Nero Wolfe after Rex Stout died. After Lawrence Sanders' death, Vincent Lardo wrote six McNally books. I tried both series, and gave up on them. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Atkins. Spenser was my favorite private investigator, and this last book by Parker would have been an appropriate culmination.

Even the opening chapter of Sixkill is filled with the witty conversations Spenser was known for. Quirk, Spenser's police captain friend, shows up to ask for help in a complicated situation. Jumbo Nelson, a well-known actor, is a person of interest in a murder investigation. A twenty-year-old girl is dead following sex with Jumbo. Everyone from the governor to the newspapers likes Jumbo for the death. But, Quirk is a little dubious and doesn't want to see an innocent man railroaded, no matter how sleazy the actor may be. He asks Spenser to investigate, on behalf of Jumbo's attorney, Rita Fiore.

Unfortunately for Jumbo, he doesn't like Spenser's attitude, and wants to fire Spenser and Rita. He also sets his bodyguard, Zebulon Sixkill, on Spenser. When Spenser knocks Sixkill on his ass, Jumbo fires him. With no place to go, the Cree Indian ends up asleep outside Spenser's office. Now, Spenser has an investigation and a protégé. 

I read all 39 Spenser books, so I just might not remember Parker providing background for a character in the way he did for Sixkill. He dribbles out bits and pieces of Sixkill's life in the course of the book. The style works perfectly with Spenser's unquestioning methods of working with Sixkill. With Hawk out of town, Spenser builds Zebulon Sixkill into another man to watch his back when there's serious opposition to Spenser's investigation into Jumbo Nelson's role in the death of Dawn Lopata. Had Parker continued the series, Zebulon Sixkill might have been a fascinating new back-up for Spenser.

For anyone who read, and will miss, the Spenser series, this book actually provides a satisfying finale. Despite the fact that Hawk is missing in action, we get the chance to remember most of Spenser's friends and allies. Most of them are mentioned in the course of the book when Susan Silverman is mentioning back-up for Spenser in his latest quest that alienates dangerous opposition. And, whether or not you're a reader that liked Susan and Pearl, they're present. In fact, it's Susan who actually provides the suitable eulogy for Spenser. "Sometimes I think you are far too kind for your own good." Other times, "I think you are the hardest man I've ever seen."

I'm going to miss Robert B. Parker's literate, wiseass detective with his code of conduct, and his fascinating sidekicks. 

Sixkill by Robert B. Parker. G.P. Putnam's Sons. ©2011. ISBN 9780399157264 (hardcover), 293p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library Book


Bill Crider said...

I'm gonna miss him, too. Ace Atkins might do a wonderful job of continuing the series, but it just won't be the same.

Gran said...

This book is on my "must read" list. I've also read every Spencer book, and I will give Ace Atkins a chance. But it still won't be the same. And I'm so glad that Rita Fiore is in this book!

Lesa said...

You're right, Bill. I always enjoyed reading Parker's Spenser, and it won't be the same. I'm going to miss that.

Lesa said...

You to need to read it, Gran. But,I agree with you and Bill. It won't be the same.

kathy d. said...

This sounds like a good conclusion to an interesting series. Am very glad to see that the series is ended in an appropriate fashion.

I read about 20 of these books, and I like Susan, Hawk and Pearl. (I know many people don't like Susan, but I'm from New York, and used to lots of personality types.)

I don't know that I'll read any books about Spenser written by anyone else. It just isn't the same.

And on Nero Wolfe. I'm revisiting Archie and the gang, who I began reading about decades ago in high school.

But, inspired by a terrific blogger who goes on Nero Wolfe binges every few years and rereads the books, I'm beginning this venture, although I won't read all 46 (I think) of them.

In that vein, I think I'll reread some of my favorite Spenser novels and find this one. I enjoyed them a lot.

Lesa said...


Who is the blogger who goes on Nero Wolfe binges every few years? I'm not sure I could do that. There are so many new books to read. But, Wolfe and Spenser were definitely two of my favorites.

Yvette said...

Lesa: I've just stumbled onto this discussion while writing up my own post on Ace taking over the writing of the Spenser books. A day late and a dollar short, that's me.

But just wanted to let you know I am the blogger that Kathy is talking about. I like to think that I'm 'terrific' but it sure is nice of Kathy to say so. :)

I go on Wolfe binges every few years - I'm currently on one now. I don't reread all the books just my favorites. Right now I'm rereading the short stories during meals.

I'm a re-reader from way back though, so this is not unusual for me.

I'm glad I discovered your blog, Lesa. I'll be back.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Yvette. And, I'll have to check out your blog since Kathy says you're terrific.

I'm not much of a re-reader. I really only re-read when I'm down and not in the mood for anything. Doesn't happen to me much, though.

Welcome! Glad you found your way here.

Meredith said...

I just finished this book and felt a sad sense of emptiness knowing Spenser was gone along with Parker. Then I vaguely remembered hearing something about another author taking over the series and I googled and found your review. I think someone very familiar with the series and very attuned to Spenser's sense of humor and dry wit just might be able to pull it off. But, boy, he'd better be prepared for readers to be scrutinizing every word. Good luck to him; I'll give him a try.

Lesa said...


I totally agree with everything you said. I, too, felt a sense of loss when I read that book. I'm sure Ace is very familiar with the series. I'm a little worried about being attuned to the sense of humor & wit. I just had a conversation with a friend yesterday about that. That was the main reason to read the Spenser books, particularly conversations between Spenser and Hawk. We'll all give it a try, but, if it doesn't come through with the wit and humor, I'm afraid one try is all he'll get.