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Perish Twice (Sunny Randall) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2001
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What mystery fan hasn't heard by now that Robert B. Parker created his Sunny Randall series expressly for good friend Helen Hunt, with an eye toward the actress playing the petite blonde investigator on the silver screen? Although the series has been touted as a radical departure for Parker (a woman in the lead, by gum!), so strongly do Boston PI Sunny and her cohorts resemble Boston PI Spenser and his pals that the movie's casting director might prefer a blond-wigged Robert Urich. But Parker's quick quips, droll wit, and staccato dialogue are all on display in the latest Randall novel, Perish Twice, so in spite of the reworked characters, there's still plenty to enjoy.
When radical feminist Mary Lou Goddard hires Sunny to protect her from a stalker, Sunny accepts the case with some reluctance. After all, Goddard detests Rosie, Sunny's bull terrier, canine vacuum, and stakeout companion ("Rosie was in the passenger seat, staring out the side window, alert for the appearance of a strange dog at whom she could gargle ferociously."). It doesn't take Sunny long to track down and confront Lawrence Reeves, a particularly pestilential human being. But pestilence is no excuse for murder, so when Reeves and Gretchen Crane, one of Goddard's colleagues, are both found dead, Sunny dives into the murky waters of Boston's prostitution industry, where Reeves was a client and Gretchen was trying to unionize the workers. Politics and sexuality can be a nasty tangle, and the unraveling threads lead straight to mobster Tony Marcus's door. Tony may appreciate Sunny's sharp wit, but business is business: interference can--and does--lead to a bullet with her name on it. And as if all of this weren't enough, Sunny's sister and her best friend are in the throes of nasty divorces. Luckily, the leap from PI to marital counselor is well within Sunny's abilities.
While there's no doubt that rabid Parker fans will snap up anything the author turns out (and with reason), Perish Twice may be more appealing to new readers, for whom Sunny's charm will carry none of the uneasy echoes of private investigators past. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Boston PI Sunny Randle, given her second outing here, is to Parker's veteran PI Spenser as Pepsi is to Coke: a bit lighter and sweeter, but still the real deal. And in the literary equivalent of a blind taste test, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart; this second Sunny novel, even more than her first (Family Honor), is a Spenser book wearing a skirt. About now, the author's fans might be yearning for a change of pace of the sort Parker has offered in his stand-alones and his Jesse Stone series; still, what's here is quite good. The novel revolves around assorted couples' dysfunctional liaisons. In one significant subplot, Sunny's obnoxious and spoiled sister, Elizabeth, hires Sunny to trail her husband, whom she suspects of having an affair; when Sunny catches the lothario, Elizabeth leaves him and begins to sleep around. In another, Sunny's old therapist pal, Julie, is having troubles with her beloved and is also starting to date. And in the novel's main plotline, a lesbian activist who hires Sunny to protect her from a stalker also turns out to be stuck in a web of infidelityAand murder. Two killingsAa man Sunny pinpoints as the stalker, and a woman who works for the activistAeventually bring Sunny into the orbit of scary black gangster Tony Marcus, who runs prostitution in Boston. The scenes involving Sunny, Marcus and Marcus's underlings crackle with tension and sometimes violence; the rest of the novel presents a wholly absorbing puzzle of confused motives and whodunits that Sunny picks at as doggedly as any PI going. With its smooth blend of mystery, action and psychological probings, this is yet another first-rate, though not innovative, offering from a reliable old master. 15-city author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Like Spenser, she has a trusty sidekick, Spike, the counterpart to Spenser's Hawk, that helps her out when things develop to where she needs a little brute strength help.She is headstrong in her quest for justice and catching the "who-done-it." Had Mr. Parker lived a bit longer, I envision that he would eventually have had all his Boston characters interact at some point in time. He had already started this with Sunny and Jesse Stone, and her involvement with Susan Silverman. The Massachusetts State Police, and Boston Police common to the Jesse Stone and Spenser novels have also shown up in these Sunny Randall books. All in all, this novel, like all the Parker novels was an interesting read. One last thought, however. Like that expressed by many other reviewers, the ending left me hanging. Was Sunny expressing joy, because she realized she was really loved by these two men; or was she expressing anger at what she thought was their male chauvinism? Only Mr. Parker knows, and unfortunately, he's not here to answer that question in a later novel.
Periodically I surfaced to notice how the book was holding me captive. With that awareness percolating, I began itching to open a PC file for review notes, to avoid losing some of my thoughts about how Sunny's snarky voice and approach to problems relentlessly re-kidnaped my focus.
Beginning chapter 5, I remembered the paperback back flap describing Sunny aiding three women, one business, one friendship, the other family. The family rescue was set up in the first 4 chapters. Sunny's sister Elizabeth had stopped by Sunny's loft, quickly snagging my attention with her puzzling, unappealing stupidity, in diametric contrast to Sunny, and as evidenced by Rosie's response to Elizabeth's self-centeredness reigning as the "Queen of doesn't get it" (quoting Elizabeth's Ivy League husband, Hal Reagan). It seemed like nothing in the universe could rescue Elizabeth from stuck prissiness... except, possibly, to get a nickname like "Bunny"? (Her new job as an divorced, single woman could be a high class call girl working for Xavier, specializing in handling Ivy League men.)
I craved to keep reading until I came naturally to a point at which I actually wanted to take a break and do something else (lots of else's needed doing). Maybe if I paused to type a few first reading responses, I'd be okay with allowing a full fall into PERISH TWICE.
Was I fighting perishing twice myself? First in fire, then in ice, per the Robert Frost poem prefacing the plot. To make sense out of that question, read Parker's dedication to Joan in this one, along with the opening lines from Frost.
Was Sunny fire; Elizabeth ice? I was hoping that Sunny could pull a Spenser and save Elizabeth, even though the first few chapters made a logic-tight case against the ice thawing, and retaining anything of a self beyond an amorphous puddle of stagnant fluid.
To think there would be two more female issues Sunny would be juggling in this plot knot. I was there.
Okay, enough. Don't be Elizabeth. Get it.
After writing this much of a first draft for a review, I got myself immediately back to reading. This book was too good to get out of, and too good to avoid pausing to explain why.
What about the aid Sunny provided for friendship and business? What entertaining contrasts of female angst those provided to the corruption of Elizabeth's stagnation. Julie's marriage shakedown temporarily took away her professional aura as an MSW and sanctioned a space for a short journey into insanity. A hard core feminist hired Sunny to stop a stalker. The situation trilogy was woven together with the perfection of a master of the relationship game as it played out into murder and pleas of insanity, hot and cold. Sunny sweats to get the acts on track in a cool "Who done what to whom." And, of course, we get bonus hints on "why."
Was Frost somehow prescient of mother earth juggling an Ice Age with a hot house to improve the human temperature? Is the big SHE using that puzzling contrast to help humans see she knows her job? But, is she a good mother, Sunny might want to know.
How might enigmatic Tony Marcus have answered that, as he fanned the flames of a fascinating role in PERISH TWICE. At a prime plot point, Sunny sagely observed, "Tony didn't seem to want to hear my theories of love, anger, and ambivalence. In truth I didn't either." But, I was compelled to read them... laughing heartily here and there. I'm thanking God (Goddess?) that Robert B. Parker understands, to a large degree, what it's like to be a woman (even if he doesn't relish walking in high heels).
Author of several Kindle books and Amazon Shorts, including:
Myrtle's Ultimate Mystery
Full Moon Rising (The Books of Gem)
As I was getting to the end of the book, I peeked ahead a little just to make sure how many pages were left. There were only 3 pages with writing on them and that is when I started to worry. There was no way all (or maybe any) of these plot lines could be wrapped up in just a few pages.
The book had so much promise, but all of a sudden it had ended. A most unsatisfing finish. A few things were explained, but there was no real conclusion to most of the plot lines. I understand that authors leave parts of the story a little up in the air so that things can resume with the next book, but this was a very bad way to end this novel.
I really felt let down. I had spent all this time getting into the story and then it ended without much explanation. That is not what I want from a mystery novel. Tell me about the mystery and then also tell me how it was solved. Tell me about all the problems with marriages of sisters and friends and then tell me what happened to them. Let me get interested in the main character and then give me a good reason to read the next book. Right now I would probably not buy the next Sunny Randall book.