"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." -- Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)
When Ace Atkins wrote Lullaby, I was struck by how well balanced the book was for bringing in readers' favorite characters and story elements. At that time, I opined that the real test of his ability to carry the series would be to write a story that wasn't so typical of what everyone loves. I'm pleased to see that Mr. Atkins stepped up to the challenge and gave us a humdinger of a story that contains no Hawk and not much Susan. The book is distinguished by turning Henry Cimoli into a more significant character than in any earlier book, a major challenge that he carried off very well. We also enjoy further development of Zebulon Sixkill as a character.
To me, however, the most breathtaking part of the story was pitting two fictional gambling barons against one another, two characters who remind me of two such real moguls. The closeness in the characterizations gave me a feeling of almost reading nonfiction. I was really impressed by how well the plot was crafted to take into account the personalities of two such characters.
While Spenser will never be the same, he's in good hands. That's more than I can say of most series continuations written by new authors.
If you miss the old terse dialogue, just go back and read some. You'll never meet its like, I'm sure.