Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sixkill by the late great Robert B Parker

"I know what I like and what I don't like, and what I'm willing to do and what I'm not, and I try to be guided by that"


Sixkill is the 39th and final Spenser novel by the late great Robert B Parker.

As some of you may know I named my only son after RBP. This book marked the proverbial 'end of an era', and caused tears to well up in my eyes when I held it in my hands on the day of its release.

Still, I wasn't expecting a lot from the novel. While Parker had had a recent return to form, many of his latter Spenser novels were cookie-cutter, mailed in efforts. The odds didn't favor a masterpiece in the making.

I was wrong. Sixkill ranks as my second favorite Spenser novel of all time, behind only Early Autumn.

Like Early Autumn, this book is about a young male in search of a path in life, a way of overcoming his past, discovering what it takes to be a man, and getting on with the business of living. In both books Spenser is the mentor, the 'fixed point in space' on which they may rely, but unlike Paul in EA, in Sixkill the titular character morphs into an heir apparent.

That's important. The Spenser novels have never been about plot or mystery, both of which are in constant short supply with RBP. No, they were therapy sessions for the author to hash out his own demons through the life of Spenser. The convoluted relationship with his significant other Susan, the homosexuality of characters (both RBP's sons are gay), the constant search for meaning and truth - THAT'S a Spenser novel.

If the series had to end unexpectedly, how better to end it than with a novel that allows us see even more of what makes Spenser tick by giving him a clone to tutor?

Best of all, the trademark Parker/Spenser wit, the ability to toss out just a dash of sparse prose and make it zing - it's all there. I laughed out loud a couple times, and even read a passage out loud to my wife.

It is a fitting coda to the Spenser series and I loved it.

RIP Robert B Parker. You will be missed.

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