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Family Honor (Sunny Randall) Paperback – November 1, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Sunny Randall Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Let's get this settled right away: Sunny Randall is nothing like Spenser. True, she's a private eye in Boston with good connections to the cops, and she also knows a lot of bad guys. And yes, she happens to have a trusty sidekick named Spike, and a close friend who could easily be related to Susan Silverman, (Spenser's long-term companion). Oh, did I mention the cute dog? Aside from that, though, there's absolutely no similarity between this new series from Robert B. Parker and his long-running Spenser books. Just because the case Sunny is working on--finding a missing 15-year-old girl who has run away from her very rich parents--sounds similar to the Spenser favorite Thin Air doesn't mean Parker is repeating himself here. Think of it as more like a homage, the kind of thing the author took on when he agreed to finish Raymond Chandler's Poodle Springs. Only in this case it's a homage to himself--but what the hell.

Written specifically with Parker's good friend actress Helen Hunt in mind, Family Honor is all in good fun. At one point, a no-nonsense nun looks down at Sunny's bull terrier, who is lying on her back begging for a tummy rub. "What's wrong with this dog?" Sister said. "It is a dog, isn't it?"

Parker is so good that with one hand tied behind his back he can create characters that are more memorable than most writers can even when pounding away with both fists. In just a few short pages, he tells us all about Sunny's career as a painter--and about the complicated relationship between her cool policeman father and her irritating pseudo-feminist mother. Parker even makes a direct dig at Spenser (who, before turning to private investigating, had a short and fairly unsuccessful career in the boxing world). When the runaway girl questions Sunny's ability to protect her from dangerous criminals--"you're a girl like me, for crissake, what are you going to do?"--Sunny replies, "It would be nice if I weighed two hundred pounds and used to be a boxer. But I'm not, so we find other ways." Exactly. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After 33 novelsAincluding more than two dozen Spenser mysteriesAbackboned by heros concerned with distinctly male codes of behavior, Parker presents his first female protagonist. She's Sunny Randall, and she's a keeper. In some ways, Sunny is a female Spenser. Like him, she's a former cop, now a Boston PI, quick with a pistol and a quip. She teams with an odd sidekick, Spike, as Spenser teams with Hawk, and she has a significant other, an ex-husband to Spenser's Susan. But Sunny is female, and as she explains in this wonderfully involving and moving novel, that means that she can't rely on the compass of "Be a man" to orient toward life. How to live correctly is this novel's theme, as it is in the best Spenser novels, and to explore that theme Parker borrows situations from those novels. Sunny is hired by a powerful family to find their runaway daughter, Millicent, who, it transpires, is hooking and needs rescuingAlike the girl in Taming a Sea-Horse. Once saved from the streets, Sunny trains Millicent in responsible adult waysAcooking, exerciseAas Spenser trained Paul in Early Autumn. But it's only a minor knock that Parker uses here elements honed in 30 years of writing, for he uses them with consummate skill. Millicent, it happens, witnessed a conspiracy to murder arising from her cold, ambitious parentsAher father aims to be governorAand the Italian mobsters who control them. The mobsters now want her dead, and Sunny, too, if need be. Sunny's fight to save Millicent and herself moves through a wide swath of Boston and its denizens, all etched in Parker's lean and exquisitely cadenced prose. The high suspense is equaled by the emotional power of Sunny's bonding with the damaged girl. A bravura performance, this novel launches what promises to be a series for the ages. BOMC main selection; film rights to Helen Hunt. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Sunny Randall (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425177068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425177068
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) has long been acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction. His novel featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye Spenser earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim, typified by R.W.B. Lewis' comment, "We are witnessing one of the great series in the history of the American detective story" (The New York Times Book Review). In June and October of 2005, Parker had national bestsellers with APPALOOSA and SCHOOL DAYS, and continued his winning streak in February of 2006 with his latest Jesse Stone novel, SEA CHANGE.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Parker attended Colby College in Maine, served with the Army in Korea, and then completed a Ph.D. in English at Boston University. He married his wife Joan in 1956; they raised two sons, David and Daniel. Together the Parkers founded Pearl Productions, a Boston-based independent film company named after their short-haired pointer, Pearl, who has also been featured in many of Parker's novels.

Parker began writing his Spenser novels in 1971 while teaching at Boston's Northeastern University. Little did he suspect then that his witty, literate prose and psychological insights would make him keeper-of-the-flame of America's rich tradition of detective fiction. Parker's fictional Spenser inspired the ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire. In February 2005, CBS-TV broadcast its highly-rated adaptation of the Jesse Stone novel Stone Cold, which featured Tom Selleck in the lead role as Parker's small-town police chief. The second CBS movie, Night Passage, also scored high ratings, and the third, Death in Paradise, aired on April 30, 2006.

Parker was named Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.

Parker died on January 19, 2010, at the age of 77.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While I am a die hard Spenser fan, I can grow to very much appreciate Sunny Randall and her crew (Richie & Spike). I found the book to be written in the typical Parker style - witty and funny one liners and great character build ups, and of course having the plot take place in and around the Boston area is just icing on the cake. I appreciated learning more about who Tony Marcus is and what makes him tick. While this book reminded me of Thin Air, it was just different enough to have kept me turning the pages (I read it in one day). The only bad thing about Family Honor (as I find with all Parker books) is when I'm finished - and it usually takes me no more than two days to read his books, is I have now got to wait XXX months before a new one comes out. Please keep writing the Spenser novels and if it not asking too much, come out with at least two books (Spenser, Jesse or Sunny) a year.
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Format: Paperback
I don't normally read airport books but this one caught my eye in LAX among all the other hyped up best-seller production line flotsam. I had never even heard of Robert B Parker,... but no matter.
The plot follows the efforts of female private eye Sunny Randall to find out why a teenage daughter disappeared from a powerful Boston family. It has enough twists to keep the pages turning eagerly, the characters may not reach Tolstoy depths but there's enough texture and flavor to hit archetypal buttons and the writing overall is professional and enjoyable. It all resolves to a believably gritty but positive conclusion, give or take a few corpses. The high-minded conflict between white hats and black hats ends up nicely smudged, just like in real life.
Above all, I found Family Honor warm-hearted and Sunny Randall a likeable and mostly credible heroine. These days, I'm steering clear of entertainments that leave me feeling bleak, however compelling they may be. I rate Family Honor as a good buy and my appetite is now whetted for some of the other Parker books that other reviewers rate even higher.
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Format: Hardcover
As a long time fan of Parker's Spenser novels I was curious to see how he would handle writing with the voice of a female protagonist. I found this book to be quite entertaining with the trademark Parker dialogue which always make his books such an easy read. Let's face it, Parker's books are wonderful brain candy not The Name of the Rose or The Celestine Prophecy and I'm about to commit heresy on Amazon by saying I was hesitant to buy this book in hardcover so I got it out of the library. I think Parker books are always best savored in paper back because you're talking about a mere 2-3 day commitment. I think we're in the Getting to Know Sunny Randall stage of the game in terms of this character as well as her sidekicks. I'm hoping that Parker has plans to flesh out these characters in subsequent outings. I thought Parker scored with Sunny's dilemmas over whether or not to ask for male assistance in some of her confrontations. I thought that a very realistic touch but are we going to be treated to Felicity-like agonizing over Richie vs. Brian vs. God Knows Who in the next book? With a so-so movie you wait for the video, with a so-so book you wait for the paperback. Wait for the paperback or visit your library on this one but once you get it in your hands sit back and escape, you'll enjoy it.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, there's similarity to Parker's "Early Autumn" in that the detective sort of adopts a teenager who's aimlessly floating around, and yes, bits of the dialogue are identical to Spenser dialogue, but that's not really sufficient to take away from the enjoyment of this book.
Sunny isn't really a female Spenser. She's less comfortable dealing with the gangster connections than Spenser is. While she's a good shot, she doesn't seem to be a true physical match for the bad guys.
In this first outing, she's hired to find a missing 15 year old daughter, but on finding her also discovers that she'll be in considerable danger if she's returned to her family. The story goes on from there. We meet Tony Marcus who we know from Spenser books. And a flip remark is made at one point which indicates that Sunny knows of Spenser and his reputation.
Parker likes to throw in little teasers. When we realize that the girl and her mother will each likely be visiting psychologists, we can't help wondering if one of them won't end up with that lady counsellor we know so well. After all, this is set in Boston.
There's bound to be a bit of a tie-in with other Parker series and therefore, I recommend reading all Parker stories in sequence.
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Format: Audio Cassette
As a reader with only a passing knowledge of the Spencer series, I found Family Honor to be a refreshing, fun read. I give much of the credit to Andrea Thompson, the perfomer of the unabridged tape who does a terrific job of maximizing the impact of Parker's one liner's and other humorous (if sometimes cynical) asides. Thompson and Parker combine to create Sunny, a nice addition to the ranks of the female P.I. As a detective, she's not all that unusual. It's as a person that Parker has created a person that I'd really like to spend time with. She's smart but has just the right levels of vulnerability. I could live without the dog, but I'm not much a of dog person.
The underlying mystery (and it's solution) isn't exceptional but is interesting enough to keep this reader involved. A fifteen year old has run away from home. Finding out why she's run is ultimately more of a mystery than finding the girl herself. It brings in a mix of Boston high society, state politics and some local mob wars. Sunny's ex-father-in-law proves handy. There's a bit of romance too.
Bottom-line: May be redundant for long time Spenser fans but a very enjoyable read for this new fan of Parker's work.
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