4.0 out of 5 stars
A Credit-Worthy Finale, Jan. 2 2011
This novel is not the last Robert B. Parker book that will ever be published. That honor belongs to Sixkill, which is being released in May 2011, some 16 months after Parker's sudden death. But even if Painted Ladies were the final Parker book, it would be a good conclusion to a celebrated career that resurrected a moribund genre and made Parker a legend even before he died.
Painted Ladies starts with one of only two major failures in the career of Boston private eye Spenser. A man Spenser is hired to protect gets killed. The previous time that happened decades ago, Spenser agonized and berated himself for a prolonged period of time. On this occasion, with the wisdom of advancing years, he calmly goes about solving the mystery of his client's death. In doing so he faces one of the most difficult challenges he has ever faced: Taking on a highly organized terrorist organization all by himself. The last time he faced off against such an organization, in the 1980s novel The Judas Goat, he had Hawk along to help, but this time Hawk is in Southeast Asia doing his own thing. Spenser could call on one of his many other professional contacts, but chooses to redeem himself in the only way he knows how.
The familiar cast of Spenser novel characters makes its dutiful appearances, but the legend of Spenser remains at the core of this solid, highly readable entry in a series that enjoyed well-deserved success for more than 30 years. Thanks to Parker for the many hours of enjoyment and inspiration he provided, and may he rest in peace.