Sixkill is the 39th Spencer novel, and the last that was written by Robert Parker before his death. The plot isn’t bad, repugnant movie star accused of crime and everyone thinks he is guilty, so local cop Quirk asks Spencer to check into it, doesn’t want anyone railroaded into prison. The case has the usual twists and turns, but the part that is interesting is Zebulon Sixkill, the Cree Indian who is the bodyguard to the movie star.
Zebulon is a tough guy. A college football star who lost his way and never went pro, who lost the dream girl because he was no longer a star, fell all the way to being a bouncer, and then in the course of things met Jumbo (the movie star). He knows more than he is telling about the crime. Zeb gives Spencer the evil eye once, they meet again, and it turns out Zeb never went to fight school,gets a 30 second lesson from Spencer.
Most of the time you would expect a rematch or escalation,but this time it changes – Zeb asks ‘how did you beat me?’. Spencer takes him to the health club for boxing lessons and training. He becomes, without asking or being asked, a role model and a mentor. All the more complex because Zeb has answers, but Spencer, being Spencer, won’t ask.
Bittersweet reading for me. The part about mentoring spoke to me of course. I’ve been reading Spencer novels for a long time. There is talk that the writing will continue and I guess I’ll look if and when that happens, but it won’t be the same. It also had me thinking about the things I wish had happened in the books. Maybe less Susan. Or growing up to getting married. Funding his retirement account. Getting to the day when he can’t win every fight, loses a step. Or gets cancer. Of course, maybe then Spencer wouldn’t have been Spencer.