Note: This review is by my husband Jim.
This is the 39th novel by Parker featuring Spenser (no first name ever given), a fearless and witty Boston private detective.
293 pages. One afternoon. These things are addictive. The ostensible plot of the novel is the investigation into the guilt or innocence of Jumbo Nelson, a disgusting Fatty Arbuckle-like actor accused of raping and murdering a young Boston non-virgin suburbanite. Rita Fiore, the best defense counsel in Boston, hires Spenser to find out what actually happened in the girl’s death.
The plot we actually care about, however, is whether Spenser is a tough as the sinister assassin, Stephano, from Los Angeles, who is sent by even more sinister Hollywood moguls to kill Spenser. Of course he is, but he uses (needs) the assistance of Zebulon Sixkill, a Cree Indian, in the final showdown.
Jumbo was using Sixkill as a bodyguard but thought him too inept and fired him. Spenser noticed that the kid had potential, but was just unskilled in the violent arts.
We learn that Sixkill was once a promising (240 pound; fast) running back at a West Coast football power that seems a lot like USC. Alas, Sixkill got involved with drugs and booze and frittered away a promising career in football. Spenser takes a shine to him and begins to teach him some of the techniques used by super-tough fictional private eyes. Sixkill picks up much of Spenser’s wry sense of humor. Parker has a chance to (and uses) every opportunity to exploit Sixkill’s ethnicity to produce some very funny dialog.
In the end, justice (of a sort) prevails, and at least some of the bad guys are condignly punished. As always in these novels, Spenser has wonderful sex with his beautiful-Jewish-Harvard Ph.D.-psychologist girlfriend, at least when they can avoid Spenser’s dog, Pearl, while all the time avoiding the advances of sexy red-haired Rita Fiore, the best defense counsel in the Northeast. And if you were wondering what happened to Hawk, the baddest man on the planet (who usually looks after Spenser), he (Hawk) was on vacation in central Asia.
Evaluation: Unfortunately, this was the last of the Spenser novels by Parker since the author died shortly after completing it. (However, his Estate hired someone else, Ace Atkins, to continue the Spenser books.) As always, a fun read.
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2011