June 24, 2007
Spare Change by Robert Parker
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!