On Black Friday, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time.
I spent the whole morning in bed reading. I read an entire book. It was awesome.
The book in question was Sixkill by Robert B. Parker. It was the last book in the Spenser series written by Dr. Parker before his death in 2010.
I started reading the Spenser books in 1990. In my final semester of undergrad, I needed one class to lock up an English minor. The professor who had taught my creative writing class the previous semester was teaching a class in hard-boiled detective fiction. Credit for reading pulp? Yes please.
We worked our way from Sherlock Holmes all the way through Robert Crumley and Jonathan Valin with stops at Lou Archer and Travis McGee.
Of them all, Spenser stuck out. His insubordinance and quick banter appealed to 20 year old me. I set out to find all of the books that preceded Early Autumn, my class reading. Then, each year, I dutifully read each new chapter in Spenser’s saga.
A few years ago, Stephe and I were discussing how the series had stagnated over time, how the mysteries had become secondary to the lengthy discussions of Spenser’s relationship with his longtime paramour, Susan Silverman. Most importantly, somewhere in there I realized that, based on his stated history, Spenser was about the same age as my father.
That’s when I found myself unable to completely buy into Spenser as an untouchable badass.
I still liked the series, but I stopped loving it. I still read the books, but I didn’t rush out to buy them.
And then, Dr. Parker died and his estate hired Ace Atkins to continue the series.
I’ve read a couple of Atkins’ books. He’s a good writer, but I think his voice is far too Southern for Spenser.
No, for me, the adventures of Spenser ended with Dr. Parker’s death. He saved Zebulon Sixkill from himself and rode off into the sunset with Susan and Pearl at his side.
Sixkill wasn’t Parker at his best, but it was a fine way to say goodbye.