by Alan Rapp on June 9, 2013

in Books & Magazines

WonderlandWonderland marks the second Spenser novel written by Ace Atkins following the death of the character’s creator Robert B. Parker. I enjoyed Lullaby, Atkins first foray into the Boston private detective’s universe, and with Wonderland Atkins feels even more at home. The second time around Atkins chooses to give minimal time to the two most complicated relationships in Spenser’s life by not including Hawk at all and having Susan Silverman be out of town for most of the novel. The choice works well, allowing the author to spend more time on our leading man and his relationship with Zebulon Sixkill, a character introduced in Parker’s last Spenser novel.

The adventure begins, as many of these novels often do, with Spenser doing a relatively simple favor for an old friend that soon becomes far more complicated. When Henry Cimoli approaches him about a pair of toughs trying to force Henry and his neighbors out of their condos, Spenser and his new apprentice begin an investigation that will involve gambling, a land grab, an abandoned dog track, billions of dollars, and murder.

I wasn’t expecting the master/apprentice sort of relationship with Spenser and Sixkill, but it works quite well especially after the Native American suffers a beatdown that shakes his confidence to the core. As I said, Hawk doesn’t get an appearance here, but we do get several of the regular cast of characters including Vinnie Morris and Gino Fish (who after the events of this story may no longer think as fondly of of P.I.). Although Susan does make multiple, though relatively short, appearances in the book, the focus is much more on Spenser’s new relationship with Sixkill and the simple favor that spirals far out of his control.

Atkins work may not quite be Parker’s best, but in two novels he has managed to capture the feel of the protaganist and many of his supporting characters. Given what happens towards the end of the novel it will interesting to see if Sixkill continues to stick around. I hope he does, as Susan so aptly points out the relationship of Spenser passing on what he knows is an intriguing new aspect to the series.

[Putnam, $26.95]

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

spenser June 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm

He’s no Parker but he is getting better. I enjoyed this book more than his last one.


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