Spare Change Paperback – Jun 3 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Not all of Sunny Randall's cases have been personal, but this one, her sixth, raises the average. Her on-again, off-again romance with her ex-husband is on again in a big way. And she's working an investigation with her father, Phil, an ec-cop lured from retirement by a slayer using the same modus operandi (coins left on beautiful female corpses) as the serial killer he hunted 30 years before. Parker's snappy dialogue keeps the story moving along. Burton is too smart to let Sunny slip into girliness when she's chatting with her beloved dad or her ultraromantic ex-husband, and she never makes her too cute or too tough in her cat-and-mouse encounters with the man she's certain is the Spare Change Killer. Instead, Burton maintains Sunny's professional edge, using subtle shifts of phrasing or timing to indicate the emotions the sleuth is keeping under wraps. She is just as successful in finding the right voices for the other main characters: flirtatious and sinister for the prime suspect in pursuit of Sunny; and gruff frustration for Phil Randall, who is worried for his daughter's safety.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The victims, dispatched with a single shot to the back of the head, are not assaulted or molested in any way and share no defining characteristics. Their bodies are decorated with a few coins. Most troubling to the Boston PD is the time elapsed between the two most recent victims: 20 years. The city was terrorized by the Spare Change killer two decades ago, and Phil Randall headed the task force that came up dry. Now he's been asked to come out of retirement to consult on the new killings. He asks his daughter, private investigator and former cop Sunny Randall, to join him. A suspect emerges, but there is no physical evidence to tie him to the killings, only Sunny's intuition. Meanwhile, Sunny's relationship with her ex-husband--for whom she still carries a torch--is moving to a new plateau as she tries to understand the family dynamics among her father, mother, sister and herself. Parker, also responsible for the classic Spenser mystery series and the Jesse Stone novels, continues to add depth to his characterization of Randall as he explores her often contradictory feelings about love. Parker's ruminations on romance are sometimes--not always--wearisome, but he never fails to entertain with humor and recurring characters whom we welcome back into our lives like old friends. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The first glaring error that whacks you on the side of the head is when Mr. Parker describes a murder weapon as a "Smith and Wesson 38" -- revolver -- and then has his characters looking for the spent cartridge, which would only be there if the weapon were an automatic. This is a sad and obvious lapse, especially for a writer who has over three decades of experience writing about such things.
There are other similar errors that I won't describe in detail since it could spoil the "plot", though I have to warn you that once you start spotting the careless errors and realize that this is just another gone-through-the-motions pot-boiler for Mr. Parker, the flame of fandom may flicker for you too.
Luckily, Amazon has many thousands of other authors and books to enjoy. My condolences to Robert B. Parker fans, and to all the unlucky people who read this book first.
The banter between Sunny and her father, retired cop Phil Randall, is a joy to read. The characters are real, authentic and you'll quickly find yourself caring about each of them, even Rosie, Sunny and ex Richie's bull terrier (they share custody).
Some 20 years ago a serial killer was on the loose. Boston newspapers dubbed him the Spare Change Killer because he left three coins by his victims after shooting the unsuspecting behind the right ear. At that time Phil was the lead investigator in the case, taunted by notes from the killer. Phil doesn't much care for unsolved cases, and this one really bothered him. Now, after two decades, there's another note and another killing.
"Hi, Phil," it reads. "You miss me? I got bored, so I thought I'd reestablish our relationship. Give us both something to do in our later years. Stay tuned. Spare Change."
The original killer surfacing after all this time or a copy cat? Police immediately call upon Phil to consult on the case and he calls upon Sunny to help him. She is, of course, pleased to be asked. As she says, "I loved my father. My sister and I had competed with my mother for his attention all our lives. I was thrilled to have him sharing space with me."
Very soon the arduous task of interviewing suspects is begun, and Sunny has her eye on one man. No one agrees with her but this is a determined woman. She sets out to bait a trap for the man, little realizing the danger she's putting herself in.
As is often the case, the outcome isn't much of a surprise but it's such a pleasure getting there! For this reader, Parker is tops.
- Gail Cooke
If you haven't read any of the Sunny Randall books before, you may feel like you've been dropped into an alien universe of psychological perspectives at times. Rather than be puzzled and annoyed by this book, I suggest you go back to the beginning and start with Family Honor.
Mystery fans who like character development will find that aspect of Spare Change nicely balances a pretty standard, and not very productive, police investigation into a serial killer. The two strands of the story nicely intertwine in a number of ways that enhance the reading experience. The book has another appealing feature, Susan Silverman and long-time police characters from the Spenser series have small roles. More than some books in the series, you feel like Sunny lives in the same Boston that Spenser does.
As the book opens, Sunny's romantic life is a mess. Richie has gotten remarried and her relationship with Jesse Stone is over because he can't get over his ex-wife and Sunny can't get over Richie. But things look up when her beloved father, Phil Randall, asks her to help him catch a serial killer who leaves three coins after execution-style killings in public places.Read more ›