Parker fans: Spenser series ends

2011-08-24 00:00

THIS is apparently the last completed novel from the late Robert B. Parker to feature his signature private eye Spenser.

The book’s title is taken from the name of a key character, Zebulon Sixkill, a Cree Indian and bodyguard of an obese, foul-mouthed film star, Jesse Nelson.

Sixkill is fired when he proves incapable of decking an inquisitive Spenser, who is trying to find out if Nelson is guilty of killing a young woman in his hotel bedroom.

In a perverse example of the macho code familiar to Parker fans, Sixkill comes under the wing of his vanquisher, and much of the novel is taken up with Spenser turning Sixkill’s life around, weaning him off drugs and alcohol, and turning him into a first-rate fist fighter.

Meanwhile, Spenser’s further inquisitiveness has ­provoked the mob, and when the gloves come off Sixkill proves a useful ally, especially as Spenser’s usual ­lieutenant Hawk is somewhere in Central Asia.

Add the usual scenes of banter with Spenser’s partner Susan Silverman, and the formulaic elements of the later Spenser novels are all in place.

While Sixkill is not a major entry to the series, being the last, it is one devotees will not want to miss. They will be left wondering if Parker had premonitions of the grim reaper’s arrival, as the novel ends on an elegiac note that could well stand as Spenser’s sign-off.

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