‘Sixkill,’ Parker’s last novel, top of the line


“Sixkill,” the last Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker, was published in May. I’ve wanted to read it for months, but I’ve held off because it’s Parker’s last novel, since he passed away in January 2010.

That I miss Parker is an understatement. I feel a strong loss for him that is just now beginning to catch up with me. When you read a particular writer for decades, he or she inadvertently becomes a part of your life. Parker certainly did with his Spenser series, then the Jesse Stone novels, and finally the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series.
 
Though Parker never can be replaced, I still look forward to the continuation of the Spenser series by Ace Atkins. His first Spenser novel will be out this coming May, and it will be titled “Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby.”
 
In “Sixkill” a young lady is found dead in an obnoxious movie star’s hotel suite. It’s believed that loudmouth actor Jumbo Nelson raped and strangled her. Capt. Quirk of the Boston police department, however, feels something isn’t right and doesn’t want to arrest Jumbo if the actor didn’t do it. Quirk talks Spenser into the taking the case, which is going to be handled by Rita Fiore and the law firm for which she works.

Spenser later meets with Jumbo and dislikes him the moment the guy opens his big mouth. The question, however, is whether or not he killed the girl. Jumbo doesn’t care much for Spenser, either. He thinks the private investigator is a smartass. When Jumbo tells his personal bodyguard, Zebulon Sixkill, to kick Spenser off a movie set, our favorite detective puts the bodyguard down with a few fast moves and then takes up for him when Jumbo fires Sixkill for not doing his job.

With Jumbo being such a low life, it isn’t long before Rita Fiore grows tired of his mouth and quits as his attorney. Spenser, however, continues with the case. He’s determined to find out if Jumbo actually killed the girl or if it was simply an accident.
 
While our gumshoe detective plows along, Sixkill approaches him, wanting to learn how to fight and to be a better man. Spenser quickly decides to take him under his wing and teach him the intricacies of being a private detective. They work out at Henry Cimoli’s gym, exercise, box, run sprints and shoot handguns. Sixkill sees in Spenser a mentor, and the PI sees himself in the young Native American. It isn’t long before Sixkill starts picking up Spenser’s sarcastic wit.
 
As Spenser shakes the tree a little harder, the L.A. mob finally drops out. They seem to own Jumbo Nelson. They’ve financed all of his movies and made a ton of money. They’re not going to allow some detective to ruin their moneymaking machine. A warning is given to Spenser, but all that does is make him more persistent. The mob doesn’t take no for an answer, and Spenser’s lucky to have Sixkill by his side.

I’ve never read a bad Spenser novel. For me “Sixkill” was top of the line, especially knowing this was the final book by Parker. I believe the author was setting up Zebulon Sixkill as either the lead in his own series of books or as a regular in the Spenser novels. The Native American is a good character, and it would’ve been fun to see him interacting will all the regulars in the Spenser series.

Parker was definitely a gifted storyteller who knew his craft. No one else will be able to emulate him, but it’s still worth a try. I don’t want to see the Spenser series end. These characters are great and deserve a life of their own for at least a little while. 

Wayne C. Rogers is the author of the horror novellas “The Encounter” and “The Tunnels,” both of which can be purchased at Amazon’s Kindle Store for 99 cents each.