A lot of stuff happens in Sixkill. It's a fairly action-packed and standard chapter of clearly the greatest series in the history of the genre. And it's also impossible, at this point, to talk about without the context of the author's passing early last year.
Sixkill is described on the flap as "the last Spenser novel completed by Robert B. Parker". A reasonable mind could take that to mean there will be more, perhaps, and that it will completed by someone else. Amazon is already taking pre-orders on a Jesse Stone novel written by the guy that does the Selleck TV-movies. So clearly there are plans. But, well, you know. Not the same.(UPDATED 10/4/11--Ace Atkins has been hired to continue the Spenser Series)
Point being, we should take no finality poignance from the events in Sixkill, as it was clearly not meant to provide any. But poignant is exactly what Sixkill becomes. Its' point is redemption/renewal and it's made in classic Parker style, going back to Early Autumn in more than one way in telling the story of one Zebulon Sixkill.
Z, as he comes to be called, is a Cree Indian bodyguard that Spenser puts a beat-down on while commencing the novel's case: the death of a young girl in Z's client's hotel room. Spenser is brought into the case by Capt. Martin Quirk, whom you've met.
Quirk is pretty sure that one Jumbo Nelson, Hollywood Miscreant/Icon, is being railroaded for murder, so he asks Spens to sniff around and see what stinks. Enter Rita Fiore, who happens to be defending Jumbo, and the stage is set for what Parker did better than just about anyone.
After Z gets canned by Jumbo for getting whupped, he consults Spenser, who agrees to help train him as a mechanism to among other things, get his help solving the case. Parker inserts episodes from Z's early years as Z and Spenser start training at Henry Cimoli's gym, among other locations. Of course, it's all about Z finding himself. And in Zebulon Sixkill, Parker creates a fascinating character, walled-off like a supermax prison. The fun in watching Spenser, with help from Susan Silverman, of course, re-introduce Z with his real self carries its own thrills.
There's plenty of regular thrills here as well. Parker stages a couple of great fist-fights and brings in some other new creepy dudes as well. Lots of cameos by the dangerous types who have helped Spens out in the past....except for, well, Hawk. Yeah, he's still in East Somewhere, so folks looking for those two hamming it up will have to look elsewhere. (Try A Catskill Eagle.) The last act moves really fast, with a gut-wrenching final showdown that's among Parker's best.
With Sixkill, Parker provides another solid chapter in the saga. Better than some, worse than others. No earth-shattering changes, and lots of Spenser/Susan navel-gazing. But it still feels great to read.
We miss him already.