…Spenser applies his usual skills (one part muscle flexing to three parts snappy repartee) to a case in which mobsters and movie people figure prominently. But Parker's real coup in this novel is introducing us to Zebulon Sixkill, the athletically gifted Cree Indian Spenser rescues from a demeaning job as Jumbo's "driver, booze buddy and pimp." It's too sad to think about the further adventures these two might have had…
The New York Times
This novel arrives as a bittersweet gift: Sixkill is Robert B. Parker's 39th Spenser novel, but it is also his final work; its author having died in January 2010. The crisp precision and ear-perfect dialogue of this thriller will redouble readers' sense of loss. As always, Parker poses questions about both motivations and the identity of culprit. In this case, Spenser's search for the truth behind a case of rape and murder entangles him in the lives of a chronically misbehaving actor and his Native American bodyguard, whose last name gives this fiction its title. One mystery author everyone should know.
An intriguing new supporting character and the usual entertaining dialogue lift the 39th and, sadly, last Spenser novel (after Painted Ladies) from MWA Grand Master Parker (1932–2010). When 20-year-old Dawn Lopata expires of apparent asphyxiation after having sex with megamovie star Jumbo Nelson in his hotel room, Spenser's best friend in the Boston PD, Capt. Martin Quirk, arranges for Nelson's defense attorney to hire Spenser. Though it appears the obnoxious Nelson killed Lopata, Quirk has his doubts. Spenser's initial attempt to get Nelson to talk about what happened ends in mutual threats and insults. While the truth about the fatal night takes a backseat for too long to make the resolution satisfying, the scenes featuring Spenser's longtime love interest, Susan Silverman, are as snappy as ever. Zebulon "Z" Sixkill, the actor's American Indian bodyguard with whom the PI develops an unexpected relationship, would probably have gotten more play in future books had Parker lived to write them. (May)
Parker's final Spenser book is a reminder of just how much we'll miss the beloved crime writer, who died in January 2010. Zebulon Sixkill, a Cree Indian whose college football career was sidetracked by the love of a bad woman, is the bodyguard for Jumbo Nelson, a (physically) huge movie star working in Boston. Jumbo's outsized appetites leave a young woman dead, and with Z the only potential witness, Jumbo's guilt or innocence becomes an open question. When Jumbo fires Z, Spenser takes him in and refines Z from an intimidating presence to a genuinely dangerous man. When Spenser tells Susan Silverman, "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," readers couldn't ask for a better epitaph for Spenser and Parker. [See Prepub Alert, 11/1/10.]
The mysterious death of a star-struck young woman who struck a star's fancy provides the basis for Spenser's valedictory outing.
One minute Dawn Lopata was alive in her hotel-room bed, the next she was dead, somehow strangled while she was in the bathroom. At least that's the story Jumbo Nelson tells. Since it's not much of a story, his movie studio hires Rita Fiore's Boston law firm to dig deeper, and Rita hires Spenser to do the real digging. The job's not easy, because among all of Spenser's checkered clientele (Painted Ladies,2010, etc.), Jumbo is the most repellent, a truculent brat who cares about nothing but his own oversized appetites. It's no surprise when he fires Spenser and Rita, leaving Spenser to work the case pro bono and giving him the potential to irritate some very influential people. The only bright spot is Jumbo's Cree bodyguard, Zebulon Sixkill. On their first encounter, Spenser and Z sniff around each other; on their second, Spenser thrashes Z. But Spenser breaks the mold when Z turns up asleep outside Spenser's office door, and Spenser takes him in and starts the one-time college-football star, whose back story is presented through a series of awkward flashbacks, on the road to redemption. As luck would have it, the road winds through some familiar areas: serving as a sparring partner, passing on crucial information about Dawn Lopata's last moments, backing up Spenser's play against the local thugs hired to beat him up, and cutting back on the sauce so that he'll be sharp enough to help deal with the inevitable tough guys from Hollywood who regard Jumbo as a cash cow whose value has to be maintained no matter what.
By no means as substantial or resourceful as Parker's best, but a treasurable demonstration of the bromide that "life is mostly metaphor"—at least to the peerless private eye and his fans.