It's not every day that the police ask a private investigator to prove them wrong, but that's essentially what Detective Martin Quirk does when he asks Spencer to look into the death of a young girl found in a movie star's hotel room. Jumbo Nelson, the larger than life movie star, appears to be a slam dunk for the rape and murder of a young girl found in his hotel room, but Quirk doesn't believe that he's guilty, so he calls on Spenser. When Spenser enters the scene and overpowers Nelson's bodyguard, a Cree Indian named Zebulon Sixkill, Nelson fires the bodyguard and Spenser finds himself as the mentor of the disgraced warrior. Spenser befriends the young muscleman, hoping to get information about Nelson but finds himself becoming emotionally attached to the young man who is struggling with his addictions and his identity issues. As the two pursue the truth about the girl's death they discover a common bond that helps Sixkill come to terms with his heritage and Spenser understand why he's so good at his profession and why he loves what he does.
Any review of this book has to mention that this was Robert Parker's last manuscript before his death in January 2010. The information is included in the note about the author on the audio book box, so most people listening to the book will be aware of the circumstances. My reaction on finishing the book was that I loved the new character of Zebulon Sixkill, but Robert Parker won't be putting him in any subsequent books as a recurring character. As the book progresses Zebulon or Z as he prefers to be known, becomes more and more like Spenser. The humorous repartee and politically incorrect comments between the two are enough to recommend listening to the book. Z becomes so much like Spenser that Susan comments on it several times. What's better than 1 wisecracker? 2wisecrackers who use each other for straight men. The story is more than the relationship between Spenser and Z, though. Serious bad guys pose a legitimate threat and are only undone after good detective work by Spenser and his cronies.
Joe Mantegna has become the voice of Spencer. As recognizable as he is for his movie and TV roles, once he begins speaking Parker's dialogue, he is only Spenser, with his not so humble, but honest heroism. Parker's books are always entertaining with their intricate plots and arresting characters and his last book, Sixkill, does not disappoint. It is perhaps prophetic that these are the final words of Parker's final book, " Life is mostly a metaphor. I got in my car and drove West."
Sixkill by Robert Parker
Read by Joe Mantegna
Random House Audio unabridged: 5.5 hours on 5 CDs