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"The last Spenser novel Parker completed"
on May 10, 2011
Note that it's not "the Last Spenser novel." Clearly there's another in the pipeline. Who will finish it? Will it be the way Parker wanted it? Will Hawk be back? ... The author's death, and where this book will fit into the Spenser saga, overshadows this whole story. And that's not fair to Sixkill. So I will try to review this book on its own terms.
And it's simply OK. The primary plot is reminiscent of Fatty Arbuckle. There's Jumbo, a ginormous star -- both in profitability and girth -- with a dead girl in his room. How did she die? Who is responsible? Quirk of the Boston PD isn't 100% sure that Jumbo is guilty and persuades our man Spenser to investigate. He uncovers a lot that's spooky and unsavory. He cracks wise and annoys people. He works out at the gym and plays with Pearl and continues the maddening (for me, that is; highly satisfying for him) relationship with Susan Silverman.
Then there's a subplot that gives the book its name and its rather stale feel. It revolves around Zebulon Sixkill, the Cree college football star Spenser takes under his wing. Though a new character, there's something disturbingly familiar about Z. That's because he's Paul Giaccommin crossed with Hawk. Their "banter" is racially saturated and hopelessly dated (at one point, while discussing race with a Hispanic character, Spenser references a JACK BENNY routine!) and feels as forced as the "sho 'nuff" talk with Hawk.
So it was an OK book. It was fine. But not one of Parker's best. At the very end of the book, when our hero talks about life and illusion and metaphor, and heads off toward the sun and Susan, I was reminded anew by how well Parker could write, how fond I am of Spenser, and how much I will miss these characters.