Thursday, August 23, 2007

Spare Change -- Robert B. Parker

Robert B. Parker's books about Sunny Randall aren't my favorites among his writings, and this one makes me wonder if I'm finally burning out on his books.

The plot is one you may have heard of before: a serial killer disappears. Twenty years later, he appears to have returned. In this version, the original case was worked by Sunny's father, who's called in as a consultant on the new murders. Sunny offers to help.

Sunny figures out who the killer is very early on. It's just a matter of getting the evidence. So how do you fill up the rest of the book? Well, you can have a lot of stuff about Sunny and her ex-husband Richie, who's now remarried but who still loves Sunny, who still loves Richie. Sunny talks about all this with both Richie and her analyst, Susan Silverman, who never even mentions that the problem Sunny has ("I love him but I can't live with him") is exactly the same problem that Susan had with Spenser. In fact, the whole bit seems completely recycled, to me, right down to the dialog.

And speaking of recycling, as I was, there's Sunny, who has some discussions about her work with her pal Julie, like this one after Sunny has pulled a pistol on some rotters. Sunny says that anybody can carry a gun. "The trick is will you use it. I will." Julie says she's not sure she could, and Sunny tells her that most people don't know and will never have to decide. "I decided long before tonight."

"It's why you do what you do," Julie said.

I raised my eyebrows.

"Because you can," Julie said.

Haven't I read that same bit about ten times in novels about Spenser? Maybe not, but it sure seems like it.

Meanwhile Sunny learns about herself and analyzes her whole family, including her sister's new fiance. It gets a little tiresome. Still, I'll bet that if Parker publishes another one about Sunny, I'll read it. Maybe.

15 comments:

Randy Johnson said...

I think I'm like you. I continue to read Parker's novels although they don't seem to have the snap of earlier ones. That said, I do wait and buy them later as used books that are much cheaper. They ARE a good quick read, a visit with old friends.

Bill Crider said...

I check 'em out of the library now.

Writeprocrastinator said...

The Missus bought me the one where Spenser deals with a Columbine-type of situation and the Sunny Randall where a Dr. Laura-type did it. After I read both, I kind of wondered why Parker's editor didn't insist on him writing an actual ending for either story.

Bill Crider said...

You might wonder the same thing after reading this one.

Gerard said...

After reading a real dog by Archer Mayor a few years ago I have yet to get back to him.

James Reasoner said...

After reading the first couple of books in the series I have a strict "No Sunny Randall" policy. I'll read anything else Parker wants to write, though, at least for now.

Bill Crider said...

Sounds like wise policy to me.

Kent said...

It was Parker's Spenser novels that got back reading mysteries after many years. I bought and read them immediately on publication until about 10 years. Based on comments I read sevreal places, I have stayed away from the Sunny Randall books. Tried a Jesse Stone after seeing the TV movies and I enjoyed it as a quick read. As for Spenser, I have a couple of used PBs somewhere in my collection, but may never get to them or any of the later stuff. I did like his historical baseball novel, Double Play, as it seemed that he put more effort into it than his series books. Speaking of baseball books, I just started the controversial Mickey Mantle novel, 7, by Peter Golenbock.

Bill Crider said...

I'm not sure about 7. I might have to pass on that one.

Bob Randisi said...

I burned out on Parker ages ago, and then he started writing Jesse Stone books. Now those I read, but nothing else.

RJR

Lee Goldberg said...

It may not be Parker's worst book, but it is certainly his stupidest. I also blogged about it today. Everyone in the book behaves like a complete moron...but it's the ridiculous "Irving the Explainer" ending that's really over-the-top awful.

PS - That line of dialogue you quote hasn't been used 10 times, Bill...Parker has used it about 45 times...only slightly less often than "We'd be fools not to."

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I used to buy every Parker novel in hardcover as soon as it came out. Then, after reading the whole book in about two hours, I'd feel guilty for having wasted 25 bucks. Now, like Bill, I check them out of the public library. Except for the Sunny Randall novels...I've hated that series since the first book.

Bill Crider said...

I can see I'm not alone here.

Roddy Reta said...

I'm reading The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey, which came out a few days ago. I think it reads very much like a Parker novel in a lot of ways. I'd be curious to know what others think about this one.

Bill Crider said...

Haven't heard of it, but it sounds like something I'd read.