For several years before his passing, Robert B. Parker wrote three books per year. While his consistency is to be applauded, for me, it caused many of those books to seem alike, mass-produced. Parker fell into repetitive dialogue and aimless chapters. If Spenser needed months to solve a case or a year to recover from injury, he got it. I was glad to see Ace Atkins emulate Parker at his best in last year's LULLABY, and hearing this year's WONDERLAND featured Spenser's apprentice, Zebulon Sixkill, I had reason to read Parker's final Spenser novel.
Spenser's training Sixkill seems a nod to his mortality, but Mel Farman of the Parker estate tells me Parker created Sixkill to replace Hawk in a proposed new TV series because the TV rights to Hawk were still owned by the developers of the SPENSER: FOR HIRE spinoff A MAN CALLED HAWK. Spenser does come up against a sadistic killer whose competence he compares to Hawk's, and he does say confronting the killer is his appointment in Samarra, yet he survives. It's Parker's death that gives every word inescapable resonance.