"Sixkill" by Robert B. Parker (G.P. Putnam's, $26.95)
The 40th novel in the Spenser series, "Sixkill" was published posthumously. Robert B. Parker died unexpectedly of a heart attack at his home in Cambridge, Mass. on Jan. 18, 2010.
Having savored all of his novels published while he was alive, especially the Spenser and the Jesse Stone series, we were privileged to meet Parker at the Vero Beach Book Center in 1999. And we read "Sixkill" with a heavy heart, thinking we were losing a friend with this last in the Spenser series.
We then learned that the Parker estate plans to continue those two signature series. The new Spenser novels are being written by Ace Atkins, author of "Wicked City," "White Shadow" and "Infamous." And Michael Brandman, producer and co-writer of the CBS TV movies featuring Tom Selleck as detective Stone, will write the Jesse Stone novels.
As with most of the Spenser novels, "Sixkill" is set in the Boston area. A bad-boy actor by the name of Jumbo Nelson is on location there making a movie. Accused of the rape and murder of a young girl, Jumbo feels the case against him initially overwhelming since he's known for an endless appetite for food, booze, drugs and sex. His studio believes its biggest asset is becoming its biggest liability. But Boston police captain Quirk does not altogether agree and asks Spenser to investigate the case.
Spenser meets Jumbo and finds him to be quite the obnoxious and obese pig Quirk has described. But he also encounters Jumbo's bodyguard, a troubled young Native American and former college football star by the name of Zebulon Sixkill, whom he sees in a promising light.
The threats against Spenser bounce from the west coast of California back to the east coast in Boston. With Sixkill at his side, Spenser fights his personal demons while others seek a deadly end to the future of the two eponymous characters. Plenty of twists and turns bring things to a surprising conclusion.
"Sixkill" is a great read. In 40 novels starring the Spenser character, Robert B. Parker never lost a fan.
-- Reviewed by David and Nancy Beckwith
"The Spymasters" by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth, (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $27.95, Kindle $14.99)
I met up with Bill Butterworth over a cigar and a bottle of beer at the Smokin' Tuna in Old Town Key West. His entourage included his pretty blonde daughter, celebrating a birthday. He and I compared notes about a few publishing acquaintances we had in common. Bill was a longtime editor of Boy's Life, the Scouting magazine we all grew up reading.
Bill has a more imaginative life these days, writing books with his famous father. Turns out, his dad is the pseudonymous author W.E.B. Griffin.
The W.E.B. stands for William Edmund Butterworth III. My friend, Bill, is IV. In addition to their own identities, father and/or son have written under more false names than a CIA spy has cryptonyms. No wonder there are more than 45 million copies of their books in print (in more than 10 languages) under six separate series. Griffin has written some 45 military and crime novels that have hit number one on most bestseller lists. He claims more than 150 published works in all.
Their latest opus is titled "The Spymasters," the seventh entry in the Men at War series. It opens with two Polish resistance fighters ambushing a trainload of Nazi SS, introduces us to Office of Strategic Services spies at the London Station, jumps to United States Army Air Forces officers in Algeria, whisks us to the back of a taxi cab in Switzerland where the philosophy of "If you're close enough to stab them, you're damn sure close enough to shoot them" is put to the test, then to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and OSS Director Wild Bill Donovan sipping gin and tonic cocktails aboard the Sequoia on the Potomac River, to OSS Station Chief Allen Dulles holding secret meetings in Bern, to a Nazi confab in Sicily, to a Free French Forces submarine beneath the Mediterranean, and more. A hang-on-tight journey. Along the way, you'll enjoy "sharing a foxhole" with Dick Canidy, an OSS loose cannon who is far braver than we'll ever be. And you won't put it down until you finish the last page.
W.E.B. Griffin's books are noted for their historical accuracy and fascinating detail. Not surprising. Enlisting in the United States Army in 1946, he set off on a course that would fuel many later novels. Serving in both World War II and the Korean War, he practiced his counterintelligence training and combat correspondence skills. Among his posts, he served under General I.D. White, who commanded the 2nd Armored "Hell on Wheels" Division to the outskirts of Berlin.
However, as he tells it, "My own military background is wholly undistinguished. I was a sergeant. What happened was I was incredibly lucky to be around some truly distinguished senior officers, sergeants and spooks. Nothing honors me more than a serviceman, veteran or cop telling me how much he enjoys reading my books."
Bill shared a passage in "The Spymasters" where he based a character on a self-important guy we both know. It made for a good shared laugh. And then we continued on with our beers.
by Shirrel Rhoades