Ah Spenser! We have been too long apart!
This time he is corralled by his police captain buddy, Martin Quirk, to investigate a suspected rape-murder by a Hollywood actor, Jumbo Wilson. Quirk is worried that Jumbo is being unfairly railroaded for the killing, and constrained by police politics from investigating more properly he asks Spenser to have a look. In spite of the fact that Jumbo is an A-list arsehole, Quirk baulks at the thought to imprisoning an innocent man.
Okay! So the premise for this Spenser story is a mite implausible. But that is not why you pick up a Spenser novel. No: Spenser is one of that long tradition of gumshoes who owe more to La Morte d’Arthur than Serpico. He is an honourable man of violence fighting for justice in spite of the cost even though no one else particularly cares. And the ensuing events prompted by Spenser’s investigation provide a violently entertaining excursion through a nexus of Hollywood and criminal underworlds.
In this novel Hawk is off in Central Asia for no apparent reason (I presume his own series?) so Spenser picks up another side kick, Zebulon Sixkill of the title (“Call me Z!”), a young Cree at rock bottom in his life but looking to be better. The warmth of the ensuing friendship and their humorous philosophising are a particular pleasure: when warning about the risks associated with a confrontation with a notably homicidal gangster Spenser tells Sixkill “he may bring others.”
“So did Custer”.
Sixkill is another great chapter in the Spenser pantheon, one of the most addictive detective series I have ever come across.