June 24, 2007

Spare Change

Spare Change by Robert Parker
Finished 6/13/07
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

From Publishers Weekly:
At the start of Parker's engaging sixth Sunny Randall novel (after Blue Screen), the cop-turned-PI helps her father track down a Boston serial killer whose depredations begin again after a 20-year hiatus. The "spare change" killer executes victims with a single shot to the head, leaving three coins near the body. Sunny's dad, Phil, headed the old task force formed to catch the killer, who wrote Phil taunting letters as the killings piled up. A new killing and a fresh letter to Phil have him and Sunny serving as consultant and assistant respectively to a new task force. Gutsy Sunny takes the lead in identifying the most likely suspect, and then in playing him dangerously to get hard evidence. Parker's signature bantering byplay and some borrowings of characters from other series (notably Susan Silverman from the Spenser novels) will delight fans. The outcome is never in doubt, but Parker hits most of the right notes, and there's still ingenuity to his cat-and-mouse.

When do these mystery writers sleep?! Robert Parker continues to crank out more books to add to his long list (over 50 published titles) for his three series. So far I've only managed to keep up with Sunny Randall's adventures, but as soon as I get caught up on the Lucas Davenport series (by another prolific author, John Sandford), I'll get started on the Spenser books. That should keep me busy for a few years, as there are at least 34!

Spare Change is the sixth in the Sunny Randall series and while these are usually fun reads, this particular title is very light on mystery. Generally speaking, I don't read any of these books for the mysteries; I'm really more interested in the relationships between returning characters. Spare Change is a very quick read; lots of white space with telegraphic, clipped dialogue and large type face on thick paper stock. The page count could easily be reduced by half if a normal font and margin width were used, but who would pay $24.95 for a hardcover with only 150 pages?

The ending was a bit disappointing (I honestly looked three times to see if any pages were stuck together, concealing the real final chapter), but I don't have any plans to give up on this entertaining series. So the ending was a little weak. Big deal. I consider these books "low-cal brain candy" = fun beach/plane read and not great literature. Keep 'em coming, Mr. Parker!


  1. Well, that just goes to show you how far behind I've fallen; I only knew of the Spenser books (which I read quite a few of, many years ago).

  2. For some reason, I can't get into his Sunny Randall novels. I began with Spenser, and he's my favorite, but I also like the Jesse Stone series. I just picked up the last in that one (High Profile). Isn't he an awesome writer? For the most part? I love the dialogue, and the relationship development, especially.

  3. Bookfool - And I have all of the Spenser novels to look forward to! :)

    Bellezza - I wonder what it is that you don't like about the Sunny Randall books. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that you've already read the Spenser & Stone books and since he does have cross-over characters, the Randall series falls flat for you. Who knows, right? Yes, he is a good writer, but personally, I like Dennis Lehane a bit better. His mysteries have a lyrical quality to them. Oh, they are so good!!

  4. Anonymous7:22 AM

    I haven't read any of these but have watched a couple of the Jesse Stone movies that have been one. I'm not sure I will start with any of them but you never know. There are just too many books!

    I liked your comment about continuing to read them despite the fact that the mystery is so-so. You get into the characters. I've finally decided that the characters are why I read many of the mysteries series that I read. When the author becomes careless with them or they feel false to me, I'm done with the author. That seems to sometimes happen when these authors begin to churn out book, book, book at such a fast pace.

  5. Have you visited his blog?


    Great fun!

    I'm a Spenser fan, and Tom has just become one. :<)

  6. Kay - I think that's how I feel about Janet Evanovich. I loved the first half dozen or so in the Stephanie Plum series, but then they started to get a bit tiresome.

    Nan - Yes, I have, but thanks for sharing the link. Have you read any of the Sunny Randall books?


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