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Sudden Mischief (Spenser) Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1999

96 customer reviews
Book 25 of 41 in the Spenser Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Sudden Mischief, the 25th Spenser novel, finds Robert B. Parker's seemingly ageless sleuth once again engaging Boston's bad guys and sorting out life's moral dilemmas, all (or mostly) in the name of love. When Spenser's girlfriend, psychiatrist Susan Silverman, asks him to investigate charges of sexual harassment leveled against her ex-husband, Brad Sterling, the detective agrees, though the assignment "shows every sign of not working out well." As the sexual harassment allegations melt like April snow, Sterling drops out of sight, a dead body appears in his office, and Spenser discovers a murky slush of clues that suggest Sterling's work as a marketing genius for local charities has been a front for some truly despicable criminal activities. As always, the more-than-slightly-shady Hawk is on hand to help Spenser sort the good from the bad, but Spenser is left to his own devices when it comes to making sense of the emotional havoc the case creates in his relationship with Susan. And what devices they are: emotionally mature and physically dynamic, Spenser once again proves himself as detective, friend, lover, and human being as Sterling's reappearance forces Susan to examine her past and her conscience while searching for her own autonomy. As always, Spenser endures as an intelligent, ethical, and poetic private eye, even if his endless middle age seems a bit supernatural. Parker's nimble, Spartan prose suits a character who carries his years in wisdom rather than body fat. If the heart of any truly great detective series is a truly great detective, Sudden Mischief and the rest of Parker's Spenser novels surely fit the bill. --L.A. Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The 25th Spenser novel isn't a romance, but it's all about love. In early springtime, Susan Silverman, the elegant psychologist and lover who long ago softened the heart of Boston's preeminent thug-sized PI, asks Spenser to investigate the sexual harassment suit that has been filed against her first husband, Brad Sterling. Susan's ambivalence about Brad's predicament doesn't make the case easy for Spenser; nor does the gradually disclosed involvement of the noted Harvard Law School professor whose young wife is one of the plaintiffs. As Spenser and his sidekick, Hawk, trace Brad's business dealings (he's a professional fund-raiser who's hired to run mammoth charity events), they also come up against a lawyer employed by the local organized crime crowd and some hired muscle associated with same, one of whom is found fatally shot in Brad's office. The next murder victim, a woman, turns out to be the director of a counseling service for ex-cons, which was also listed as benefiting from the most recent charity bash. What's more, the dead woman had her own connection to the still-missing Brad. Threatened repeatedly with fists and guns while coping with Susan's rare emotional uncertainty, Spenser stays the course to a resolution in which he and Susan both prevail. The mystery in this valentine may be insubstantial, but readers who pick up Parker's bestselling series for its characters and atmosphere will be delighted. BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Spenser (Book 25)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042516828X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425168288
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.8 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,783 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Neal Reynolds VINE VOICE on February 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Somehow, I feel a batch of people have missed the point here. This is a pivotal novel, one in which Susan has to face some things she would prefer not to.
Susan's ex-husband comes to her for help. Of course, she doesn't understand the kind of help he's looking for and her misunderstanding involves Spenser and eventually turns up a batch of stuff that the ex is involved in.
Human emotions are dealt with here, and it's revealing to watch Susan as she begins to realize some of her own hang-ups. As far as the mystery goes, there isn't great mystery here. We learn what's going on at the same time that Spenser does and much of it isn't a surprise. Parker does telegraph much of the time and I believe this to be purposeful.
More and more, in these later Spenser stories, Parker does something unexpected. This time, it's the ending which is unusually abrupt. There's reason here, and Parker does know exactly what he is doing in the way he's crafting these stories.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Connelly on December 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After Small Vices, perhaps the best of Parker's Spenser series, a letdown was expected. It would have been inappropriate to have so intense a story follow so quickly -- the suspension of disbelief would have been been unsustainable.
So Sudden Mischief focuses on relationships more than action. While Pastimes illuminated Spenser's childhood, details of Susan's pre-Spenser history are exposed in Mischief. This isn't as bad as it might seem. Earlier in the series, I found Susan to be so self-absorbed I almost stopped reading. However, she's since matured, developed, and become more an asset to Spenser's work than a liability. I actually found her presence enjoyable here.
The "mystery" part of the book is more ordinary by Spenser standards. As others have pointed out, there's all the usual Spenser elements, including his annual rejection of supermonogamous temptations. But the story is hardly very compelling. There isn't much mystery there. The reader is left in a more passive role, turning the pages to see what will happen next, without much speculation into or concern over what that will be. Still, the story isn't overtly bad.
Even if it was, Parker's writing is always a joy. So, if you're a fan of the Spenser series, Sudden Mischief is a worthwhile investment of your time, and not only for the development of Susan's character.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There are some characters who have been around so long and are so consistent that they fit like an old pair of jeans; there are some books that are so easy and go down so smooth that they can be read in one gulp. The character, of course, is Spenser; the book, Sudden Mischief, the latest Spenser novel from the typewriter of Robert B. Parker.

These books are designed for one-stop reading. They take three hours, give or take for your reading speed, and are meant to be devoured by the fire with a bottle of Jack Daniels for company. The plots are pretty similar, and many of the same things happen (Spenser cooks. Spenser quotes Spenser. Spenser beats people up. Spenser and Hawk trade jibes.). Basically, the Spenser novels are genre fiction, formulaic, pure and simple. But they're GOOD genre fiction. Spenser is an easy guy to like, as long as you're not on his bad side. He's intelligent, he makes a mean plate of spaghetti, he's got the cutest sidekick in the business (Hawk can rough me up any time!), he knows his medieval literature, and he's pretty good at walking the balance between solving crimes and committing them. What's not to like?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A H on July 10, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes I wonder if those of us who read series (especially long-standing series like Spenser) have unrealistically high expectations for each new book. I think the truth of the matter is that some books will be great and some will be just okay, and maybe a few will genuinely suck (though not too many, we hope). After all, who has a great year every year? Some are good, some better than others. That's just real life. And Parker's series seems to do a good job of replicating this aspect in Spenser's life. Some years have huge crises and brushes with death; others not much happens.

This volume is one of the mid-level ones. It's okay, not bad, not great either. One aspect I think rather unrealistic is the idea that Spenser and Susan have been together for twenty years and have never talked about her past. In most dating relationships, this comes up in the first month. In some ways, perhaps this is Parker overcompensating for unduly neglecting this aspect of Susan's character in the past. He probably felt like he had to get it in sometime, and though it would have been more appropriate some ten or fifteen books ago, it's probably good that he got it in now.

Parker has said that he doesn't have a favorite Spenser book; he feels like all of them are just episodes in an ongoing series and they sort of blur together. And maybe in this way, Spenser really reflects life. So if this book wasn't a dazzler, that's okay. That's just life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By on March 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I'm not as pessimistic as "judge" above. Yes, Parker slipped badly in the early 90s - I was particularly annoyed by several short books with very wide margins. But this and the last entry ("Small Vices") were much improved. In both these books Spenser and Susan deal with substantive issues in their relationship: whether or not to adopt a child in the first, and Susan's silence about her past and her loyalty and committment to men not worthy of her in this one (Spenser, of course, both does and does not fit that category.) Where Parker is lacking is precisely those places that Judge identifies - Spenser's wonderful relationships with the supporting cast, and the excellent characterizations found there. I read these books as much for Hawk and Belson and Quirk, and the more of them the merrier. At least Rachel Wallace makes a cameo here. Another significant shortcoming is the waste of a truly worthy white-collar foe for Spenser, a visciously corrupt Brahmin lawyer/judge who meekly shows up at the end and writes a check.... Boo! You'd be hard pressed to beat the climaxes of both this book and Small Vices, though. I found them gripping and beliveable, and Spenser's restraint both times it quite impressive. Get it from the library, or wait for the paperback, however - I haven't bought Parker in hardcover since "A Catskill Eagle."
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