Saturday, January 4, 2014

Finished: Robert Parker's 'Sixkill'

"Sixkill" is the 39th and final novel in Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, as Parker went to the Great Bookstore in the Sky back in 2010. I love this series. Remember the "Spenser for Hire" shows back in the 1980s? Based on these, yup.

From Goodreads:
On location in Boston, bad-boy actor Jumbo Nelson is accused of the rape and murder of a young woman. From the start the case seems fishy, so the Boston PD calls on Spenser to investigate. The situation doesn't look good for Jumbo, whose appetites for food, booze, and sex are as out sized as his name. He was the studio's biggest star, but he's become their biggest liability. 
In the course of the investigation, Spenser encounters Jumbo's bodyguard: a young, former football-playing Native American named Zebulon Sixkill. Sixkill acts tough, but Spenser sees something more within the young man. Despite the odd circumstances, the two forge an unlikely alliance, with Spenser serving as mentor for Sixkill. As the case grows darker and secrets about both Jumbo and the dead girl come to light, it's Spenser - with Sixkill at his side - who must put things right.
This was a fun book, read it in two nights, but I had some moments where I cringed.

Zebulon Sixkill (named after Zebulon Pike of Pike's Peak fame) is a Native American, and that's where some of my quibbling comes in. I thought Parker went over the top in the back-and-forth white man vs. Indian jokes. It was like the only Native Americans Parker ever heard of were Injun Joe in Tom Sawyer or Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Hey, I like a good joke as much as anyone, but the paleface, white eyes, scalping, firewater, etc., jokes seemed a little below RBP standards - pretty school yard stuff, in fact. He gets around any racist type stuff by having Sixkill tell most of the jokes on himself, but there again it's like Parker relied way too much on lame stereotype humor.

Maybe there aren't as many Native Americans in Boston as there are in South Dakota, but the NAs I know are a heckuva lot funnier and more clever than Parker makes Sixkill. If you're going to attempt racial humor, you better make it funny to make it worth the risk.

Otherwise, the plot is good. I really enjoyed the dialogue Spenser has with his girlfriend (though more Harvard references than necessary) and his adversaries.

I'd recommend any Spenser books, but on this one you'll have to cut him some slack for the lame attempts at humor.

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