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Spare Change (Sunny Randall Novels) Hardcover – June 5, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: Sunny Randall Novels
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399154256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399154256
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,027,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
SPARE CHANGE, the sixth Sunny Randall novel, shouldn't be read as an entry to the series. Too much subtext from earlier novels is needed for the reader to competently understand all the dynamics of family and self that are going on in this one.

The plot is simple. Sunny and her dad Phil attempt to close out a cold case he had before he left the Boston Police. The case had suddenly turned hot again as a new victim is discovered. The serial killer known as Spare Change (named so because he leaves a nickel, dime, and quarter behind at each murder scene) has struck again. Phil gets called out of retirement to advise on the case and he brings his private-eye daughter with him.

The solution of the murders is the plot that drives Parker's theme: his examination of families, how they work together and how they shape the individuals within them.

On many levels, Parker succeeds admirably. Fans of the Sunny Randall series (of which I am one) will love seeing some of the changes. But a few of them, like the change with her ex-husband, comes out of left field. And that one, to a degree, gets dropped to hang around for the next book. I think the extended views into the dynamics of Sunny's family, and especially the exploration of character between father and daughter, is great and a lot of readers are going to find parallels in their own lives. Always an amazing experience for readers.

However, the story of the serial killer resonates the same theme, but misses the boat because it doesn't offer quite the same reveals.

Parker's writing is as smooth and exciting as ever. I sailed through this book and the pages kept turning. I was drawn as much by the character development and insights as I was the homicide investigation.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Donald Gallinger on June 6, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Spare Change by Robert Parker teams up Sunny Randall and her father in a case involving a serial killer who drops coins next to the bodies of his victims. Although Parker's dialogue is always razor sharp and his characters well delineated, there's a certain perfunctory quality about the plot that perhaps comes from writing too many crime dramas over the years. You won't be disappointed by this book, but you won't necessarily remember it as one of Parker's best, either. A good airport read. You'll enjoy yourself between the soft drinks and the on board movie.

Donald Gallinger is the author ofThe Master Planets
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By CeeCee on June 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ok. I have read and enjoyed Mr. Parker's books for as long as I can remember but I am seriously wondering if writing 3 series is too much for him. What's the deal with the continuity issues???


In Blue Screen, the last Sunny Randall novel, Sunny learned that Richie's wife was PREGNANT. Now all of a sudden, Richie decides he loves Sunny and leaves his wife and there is absolutely no mention of his wife being pregnant in this book??? What the heck??? That's beyond sloppy and a slap in the face of loyal readers who deserve more respect. I am very disappointed...where oh where did the quality of A Catskill Eagle or Valediction go???
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gabriela Perez VINE VOICE on July 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
but then, that's been the case pretty recently with the Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall series.

I like Parker's writing, generally speaking. His Spenser series ranks near the top of all the series I've read, but only if I focus on the first two thirds or so of the series. Recently, I've become a bit. . .bored with Mr. Parker's series, with all of them.

This one, with a potentially-intriguing protagonist at its heart, doesn't seem to be "growing" at all. Don't misunderstand--Sunny appears to be making progress understanding herself. It's just that the dialogue and the way characters interact is stuck in some sort of holding pattern.

Here's an example for you: in Parker's novels, the characters tend to make psychological assessments and super-intuitive assessments in one-line form. There isn't a whole lot of discussion, not a whole lot of real digging into things. Sunny is seeing Susan Silverman for therapy, and Silverman's whole approach to therapy appears to be inclining her head, offering slim smiles, and teasing little questions and statements that Sunny then responds to with pretty decent insights, but there's no "there" there. Having had some therapy myself, and having spoken to others who've also been through the process, I can tell you that it seems rare to find someone who gets you to really dig into your psyche by, say, smiling at you. There's WORK involved in most therapy, or so I believe, and there doesn't appear to be any in Sunny's.

Sunny continues wanting her ex, and some changes take place on that front. Sunny does a credible job of investigating a crime, but she knows from early-on whom the killer is, so there's not much in the way of mystery or nail-biting suspense going on.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Noneofyourbiz VINE VOICE on July 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting story about the search for a serial killer. It's a decent story about the lengths a Daddy's Girl will go to in order to please Daddy. And it's a completely ridiculous portrait story of cartoon characters that pass for contemporary women:

Julie? Oh, puh-leeze! Sunny is Counselor Julie's best friend, Sunny is involved in a dangerous situation that puts them in peril, Julie is breaking just about every rule in the counselor's handbook. Yet in all her sessions with the Sainted Susan Silverman, Sunny never mentions any of it. Why the total disregard for her best friend Julie? And worse, Julie's innocent patients?

Dr. Susan Silverman delivers no insights during Sunny's sessions. She just nods and half-smiles at her patient. One wonders how much she charges Sunny. Sunny's fascination with her shrink is kinda weird. Sunny's heart leaps when Dr. Silverman says her name. She's thrilled when the shrink's Mona Lisa half-smile actually escalates to complete smile. We hear about Silverman's lustrous hair, her terrific body, her artfully applied makeup. I went between thinking I was reading the transcript of a therapy session and a Letter to Penthouse.

Sunny's mother has a drinking problem. Every time the family gets together, Mom gets sloshed. Dad sees this but does nothing because, I guess, love means never having to say, "stop that." Mr. and Mrs. Randall are of retirement age. All this drinking cannot be good for her liver, or her bones, or her heart. But as with Sunny and Julie, Dad says nothing. Apparently enjoying being in codependent relationships is, like crime fighting, a bond father and daughter share.

Yet I gave it two stars. I was intrigued by the Chico Zarilla subplot. I enjoyed the police work. And, when it didn't include Julie or Susan or Mom, I enjoyed the dialog.

I just wish Parker would quit trying to write women characters. I suspect he really doesn't like us much.
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