Last year, Ace Atkins continued Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series with Lullaby. He captured the voice of the urban knight for hire, coming as close to Parker’s portrayal as anybody could. In his follow up, Wonderland, he picks up where Parker left off in his last Spenser novel, Sixkill.
Henry Cimoli, an old boxer who runs the water front gym, asks Spenser for help. A gambling tycoon wants the property his condo is on for a casino and some thugs have been sent to move negotiations along with him or the other seniors who are holding out. Since his usual back up, Hawk is out of the country Spenser uses Sixkill; the Cree Indian bodyguard he’s been mentoring. It’s not long before the two are up against both the Boston and Vegas mob and one of the major players are murdered.
Much of the story deals with Sixkill. Early on, he is roughed up my some of the goons, with his pride being damaged as much as his body. The beating makes him wonder if he’s cut out for this life and if not, what life is he cut out for. Spenser uses the case to test Sixkill and hopefully save him.
Like Lullaby, Wonderland has echoes of Early Autumn, a Spenser book that is a favorite of Ace’s. While in that book he’s helping a young man find direction in his life, here he’s mentoring someone how to deal with a life like his own. It seems we learn the most about Spenser when he his teaching.
In Lullaby, Atkins confronted Spenser with changing times. In Wonderland we see him dealing with by passing what he knows and believes down to the next generation. All of this is done subtlety under some masterful plotting, fun quips and well-defined action scenes. He has taken the last major character Parker created in the series and used him to introduce a new phase in Spenser’s life. It looks likes it’s still going to be one worth following.
Join us as we welcome Ace Atkins to BookPeople to speak about and sign Wonderland, as well as his new Quinn Colson novel, Broken Places, on Friday, May 31 at 7PM.