Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: Robert B. Parker - Sixkill

For me, it was bittersweet to read Sixkill by Robert B. Parker. Since his passing in January of 2010, a handful of books that he had in the pipeline have been released, but Sixkill will be the final book in the series of novels featuring hardboiled, but tender, Boston P I, Spenser.

A friend introduced me to Parker/Spenser and I was hooked from the start. I quickly worked my way through the back catalog and continued to voraciously gobble up each new edition to the series. Along the way Parker added a couple of new denizens to the Boston ‘burbs, in the form of Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, who joined the long list of colorful, quirky characters that filled the pages of his books.

Parker was a master at drawing compelling characters who while often habitually flawed; they almost uniformly do the right thing and make the honorable thing. Sixkill adds the character Zebulon Sixkill, a Cree Indian, who works as a body guard and ends up under Spenser’s sizable wing.

Parker does a masterful job of drawing Sixkill’s background from a child on the res, to the college football field and into the seedier side of Hollywood celebrity body guarding.

Along the way Spenser hones Sixkill’s skills and prepares him for the final showdown and crossing swords, or in this case a Bowie knife and .40 Smith and Wesson, with a sadistic hit man out to kill them.
It makes Parker’s passing all the more sad; Sixkill is a good fit to join the long list of hard men, skilled with hands and weapons, like: Hawk, Vinnie Morris, Chollo, Bobby Horse, Ty Bop, and Junior.

While I see that Michael Brandman, the television producer responsible for the Tom Selleck movie’s featuring Jesse Stone, is set to continue that series with the new book, Killing The Blues set for release this September, I’m not sure Parker’s estate should strike a similar deal to continue the Spenser series. Some things are better left the way they are.

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