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Perish Twice (Sunny Randall Series #2)

Perish Twice (Sunny Randall Series #2)

3.5 26
by Robert B. Parker

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Spenser creator Robert B. Parker returns with his newest heroine, Boston P.I. Sunny Randall, coming to the aid of three very different women in three very dangerous situations. One is for business. One is for a friend. One is for family. And all could be fatal…


Spenser creator Robert B. Parker returns with his newest heroine, Boston P.I. Sunny Randall, coming to the aid of three very different women in three very dangerous situations. One is for business. One is for a friend. One is for family. And all could be fatal…

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Parker's narrative is so taut that bullets could bounce off it and sofast-paced it could compete in the 100-meters.”—The Orlando Sentinel

“Parker's most tightly plotted mystery in years.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Fans of Spenser will like Sunny Randall.”—San Francisco Examiner

“An entertaining, fast-paced read.”—The Chicago Tribune

Our Review
Parker's Other Boston PI Returns
Robert B. Parker continues his artistic resurgence with Perish Twice, a smart, stylish follow-up to last year's memorable Family Honor. Like its predecessor, Perish Twice features Parker's first female protagonist: feisty, introspective Sunny Randall. Sunny, like Spenser, is a Boston-based PI with a highly developed, constantly evolving ethical code. She is also tough, courageous, and funny, and remains one of Parker's most engaging creations to date.

This time out, Sunny finds herself enmeshed in the problematic lives of three troubled women. The first is her sister Elizabeth, a shallow, self-absorbed neurotic who loses her bearings when her husband leaves her for another woman. The second is her old friend Julie, a professional therapist struggling to cope with the painful dissolution of her own moribund marriage. The third is a client named Mary Lou Goddard, a feminist and self-professed lesbian who hires Sunny to protect her from an unidentified stalker. Mary Lou's dilemma, with its multilayered mysteries and attendant dangers, serves as the novel's central dramatic thread.

Sunny quickly identifies the stalker as Lawrence Reeves, a pathetic middle-aged misogynist. Shortly after Sunny's first confrontation with Reeves, Gretchen Crane, Mary Lou's assistant, is murdered, ostensibly because of her slight resemblance to Mary Lou. Shortly after that, Lawrence Reeves commits -- or appears to commit -- suicide, leaving an unambiguous confession behind. Satisfied, the Boston PD closes the file on Gretchen's murder, while Sunny, not at all satisfied, continues to investigate. Her investigation carries her from the bastions of radical feminism to the sleazy underworld of organized prostitution, gradually uncovering a sordid account of twisted relationships, sexual betrayal, and blind, murderous rage.

With consummate skill, Parker moves the complex narrative back and forth across three intersecting story lines. In the process, he takes us deeply into Sunny Randall's life, an austere, disciplined existence built around her love of art, her absolute dedication to her chosen profession, and her unresolved relationship with ex-husband Richie Burke, whose family, ironically, is a major force in the Irish-dominated Boston mob.

Like the best of Parker's earlier fiction, Perish Twice is an immensely readable book that works both as a fast-paced novel of suspense and as a cogent examination of the various ways people manage -- or fail to manage -- critical moments in their lives. In only two appearances, Sunny Randall has proven herself a worthy counterpart to Spenser. I wish her -- and this series -- a long and prosperous life.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has just been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 infidelity--and murder. Two killings--a man Sunny pinpoints as the stalker, and a woman who works for the activist--eventually 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 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Artist/shamus Sunny Randall's second case (Family Honor, 1999) might be called A Tale of Two Stalkers. The first is Lawrence B. Reeves, the part-time Boston U. philosophy prof who won't stop hassling Mary Lou Goddard, the grimly lesbian corporate consultant whose can-do public image would take a nose-dive if it were known that she was being stalked, especially by a former lover. The second is Sunny's own sister, Elizabeth Reagan, who's so angry at her unfaithful husband Hal that she can't stop following him. The second case is piffle, nothing more than an excuse for Sunny to show how much stronger she is than her intolerant, helpless big sister. But the first leads to three violent deaths-before you realize it's piffle, too: first, there's Mary Lou's research assistant Gretchen Crane, presumably killed in mistake for her; then Lawrence B. Reeves, whose apparent suicide conveniently allows the police to close the books on Gretchen; and Jermaine Lister, the rising pimp Gretchen had talked to in connection with her research on prostitution. Sunny identifies all the players early on, but never does figure out who's playing what role. Instead she gets men to do all the heavy lifting: her ex-husband's mobbed-up relatives threaten the key player into talking; the player solves the muddled case for her; and two male friends wait outside the showdown just in case.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sunny Randall Series , #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.40(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My sister Elizabeth came to see me.

Elizabeth is three years older than I am. We aren't close. We had spent too much of our childhood fighting over Daddy ever to be the kind of sisters that talk on the phone every day. To cement my conviction that Elizabeth was a pain, my dog, Rosie, didn't like her either. Since Rosie likes everyone, including armed intruders, it seemed clear that Elizabeth was special.

"What kind is she again?" Elizabeth said. "A Boston terrier?"

"Bull terrier," I said. "Rosie is a miniature bull terrier."

"I thought she was a Boston terrier."

"You want to see her papers," I said.

"Oh, aren't you funny," Elizabeth said.

We were having coffee at the counter in my kitchen without Rosie, who had left us and was on my bed at the other end of the loft, watching us carefully with one black eye.

"So what brings you to South Boston?" I said.

"Is this really South Boston?" Elizabeth said.

"The yuppie part," I said.

"Oh . . . this coffee is very good."

"Starbucks," I said.

"What is it?"

"Starbucks," I said. "This particular one is from Guatemala."

"Oh, write that down for me, will you?"


I wrote Starbucks Coffee on a piece of notepaper and gave it to her. She stuffed it into her purse. I waited. She sipped some coffee. I looked at Rosie. Rosie's tail stirred. But she didn't change her mind about staying on the bed.

"Do you ever see your ex-husband?" Elizabeth said.

"Richie and I see each other every Wednesday night."

"Do you do anything?"

"Do anything?'

"You know," Elizabeth said, "sex. It's all right to ask becauseI'm your big sister."

"Then I guess it's all right for me to say none of your business."

"Oh don't be so silly," Elizabeth said. "Do you date other men?"



"Elizabeth, what the hell are we talking about here?"

"For God's sake, I'm just asking if you have sex."

"None of your business. Do I ask you about your sex life?"

"Oh, me, I'm an old married woman."

"Elizabeth, you're thirty-eight," I said.

"You know what I mean," Elizabeth said. "I'm just interested in what life is like when you can't stay married."

I got up and walked down the length of my loft, breathing deeply and carefully. I bent down and gave Rosie a kiss on the nose, and breathed some more and walked slowly back.

"We who can't stay married prefer to keep our sex lives to ourselves," I said.

"Oh, Sunny, honestly you're so quaint sometimes."

"Quaint," I said.

The sun was almost straight up and it shone strongly through my skylight onto one of my paintings that stood unfinished on its easel.

"You're still painting," Elizabeth said.


"Does anyone ever buy one of your paintings?"



I nodded.

We sat quietly for a while. Elizabeth reached over and got the pot and poured herself some more coffee. She didn't replace the pot. Just set it down on the counter near her where it would grow cold. It took some will, but I didn't reach across and replace it. I didn't want any more anyway.

"How's Hal," I said.

She carefully poured some milk into her coffee and stirred in two sugars, and put the spoon down and sipped from the cup.

"I think he's cheating on me," Elizabeth said.


"Yes. I think so, and, isn't this funny, I want you to see if you can find out for sure."


"You are being a detective these days, aren't you?"

"Yes, of course, but . . ."

"I wouldn't want to hire some stranger," Elizabeth said.

"You want me to tail him? Get pictures? Catch him in the act? That sort of thing?"


"Why don't you just ask him?"

"Ask him? Don't be ridiculous. Why in God's name would he tell me?"

"Because you asked," I said.

"No. I'm not asking that bastard anything. I am going to catch him."

"You don't want to maybe talk about this with him, see about professional help?"

"A shrink? They're all crazy. It's why they became shrinks."

"Maybe not every one of them," I said.

"And most of them are Jews."

"Maybe not every one of them," I said.

"I don't want to discuss this anymore. Will you help me?"

"Of course. I was just trying to see if we could agree on the kind of help you needed."

"Well it's certainly not some crazy Jew," Elizabeth said.

I thought about going down and lying on the bed with Rosie. Arguing with Elizabeth was futile. She was, as my father used to say about our mother, often wrong, but never uncertain. And like our mother she simply dug in deeper when her convictions were questioned. If they were actually disproved, she was entrenched for life.

"I'll do whatever I can," I said.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Parker's narrative is so taut that bullets could bounce off it and so fast-paced it could compete in the 100-meters.”—The Orlando Sentinel

“Parker's most tightly plotted mystery in years.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Fans of Spenser will like Sunny Randall.”—San Francisco Examiner

“An entertaining, fast-paced read.”—The Chicago Tribune

Meet the Author

Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books. He died in January 2010.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 17, 1932
Date of Death:
January 18, 2010
Place of Birth:
Springfield, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Cambridge, Massachusetts
B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971

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Perish Twice (Sunny Randall Series #2) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
bookwormRW More than 1 year ago
What can I say? It's a Robert B. Parker, and that says it all
ThePolyBlog More than 1 year ago
PLOT OR PREMISE: Sunny Randall is back, and she has a new part-time job as advisor to the love-lorn. Her first customer is Mary Lou Goddard, a prominent feminist (à la Rachel Wallace, from the Spenser series) who thinks she's being stalked. When Sunny figures out who the stalker is, Goddard wants to drop it all and fires her. Doesn't stop her from continuing to investigate, even though she has no client. The second customer is her sister -- who hires her to catch the sister's husband in the process of cheating. Which Sunny does, and then spends the rest of the book dealing with the dysfunctional sister. And the third and final customer is her normal confidant and best friend, Julie, who runs into marital problems in this book. . WHAT I LIKED: This is a first-rate mystery, with typical Parker twists and turns and links to criminal types. It provides a different spin on the normal Spenser series, while still staying within the same ballpark. . WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The storyline with the sister is hard to take because you just want to mentally slap her; which is okay because Sunny wants to slap her too, although I can't figure out why she doesn't. The third storyline with Julie is okay, but started to grate near the end. . BOTTOM-LINE: Good story and first-rate mystery . DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I was not personal friends with the author, nor did I follow him on social media.
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K_C More than 1 year ago
I had not read anything by this author so a friend loaned me this book and I read it before reading the first in the series. I did appreciate that the author gave enough background that I wasn't lost. This was a good book and I had a hard time putting it down. As one person mentioned it was an "abrupt ending." But...as another person said about the ending, "you will have many thoughts about what the story means that you would not otherwise have." Both are very true statements. I would recommend this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Perish Twice is the second in Robert Parker's new series about his female private detective, Ms. Sunny Randall. No one who reads the story will miss the similarities to Spenser. Through the parallels, you can begin to see more clearly Mr. Parker's thesis about what being a good, honest person should be about. What constitutes a proper life for women and men is remarkably similar. As in the Spenser books, most people don't get it. His interpretation of the proper feminist version of goodness and a healthy mind becomes more obvious in Perish Twice than in any other book by Mr. Parker. This transparency is helped by his setting up so many alternative models of women who are either phony, hypocritical, or miserable (or perhaps a little of each). As with the previous Sunny Randall book, Family Honor, this one makes Sunny a little too dependent on her hoodlum ex-in-laws to be totally palatable. The story has four major plot lines. The primary one revolves around a bodyguard job that Sunny does for a high profile feminist, Ms. Mary Lou Goddard. Someone is threatening Ms. Goddard. Sunny soon spots a stalker and tracks him down. The path from there takes many twists. The second one involves Sunny's sister Elizabeth who wants to know if her husband is cheating on her. Sunny quickly finds out that he is, and Sunny plays chaperone and analyst for her emotionally floundering and confused sister. The third relates to her friend, Julie, who suddenly walks away from her marriage. The fourth continues Sunny's relationship with her ex-husband, Richie. Each plot line crosses the others from time to time, providing for a rewarding set of developments. The mystery in the book has two very interesting features. First, it develops surprising depth after what appears to be a very simple beginning and initial plot. Second, Mr. Parker leaves the ending at a place where many stories don't end. As a result, you will have many thoughts about what the story means that you would not otherwise have. That's a fine bit of writing. So you have at least two nice surprises to look forward to enjoying. After you finish this book, you should think about why connecting to other people is so difficult and painful. Another useful question might be why we don't draw more love and support from our connections to one another. What's missing? Put honoring your values ahead of pursuing your needs, if you want to enjoy self-respect. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was really disappointed by the abrupt ending of this book, and I am a #1 fan of Robert Parker's, having read all but 2 of his novels. I am hoping that the next Sunny novel will pick up where this one left off as I am still wondering, WHAT's GOING ON?
Guest More than 1 year ago
It took about 8 or 10 novels in the Spenser series before Parker hit a bad patch but it's only taken 1 in the Sonny series. The three story lines are pretty lame--the only one that he really develops is about her sister where you find out a little more about Sonny's family--probably the best written part of the book. The supposed main story line about the woman being stalked is boring. Nothing really happens, then someone is murdered, then you find out who did it. The ending is just sort of made up when it comes time to end the book. If you want to read a wonderfully witty story along these lines, get 'Looking for Rachel Wallace,' which is the Spenserized version. The characters are fully realized and the writing is Parker at his absolute best. I defy anyone not to laugh out loud when reading the Spenser/Wallace conversations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sunny Randall, a Boston P.I. (like her Parker stablemate Spenser) is a smart-alecky streetwise ex-cop. Hired to provide security for a lesbian activist, Sunny quickly finds herself involved with a prostitution ring, Boston's Irish mob, and multiple murders. One has the feeling Parker intended for his sleuth to be charming, but character misses the mark. There is too much changing of POV and way too much non-essential filler-stuff--and not nearly enough mystery or action. Pass on this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I doubt if many people in the US love Parker's work more than I do, but Perish Twice makes Hugger Mugger, the last stinker in the Spenser series, look like a literary masterpiece. Unfocused, rambling, repetitive and dull: If Sunny explained her neurotic pseudo-marriage to Richie just one more time, I was going to run shrieking. This is painful to write. I own most of the Spenser books in first edition and very much enjoyed the Stone novels, and thought that the first Sunny novel was terrific. This one isn't.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the newest 'Sunny Randall' novel, PERISH TWICE, by Robert B. Parker, the author fails to live up to the high standards set by his first book, FAMILY HONOR. In this story, our female PI is hired by Mary Lou Goddard, a staunch pro-feminist and lesbian, who fears that she is being stalked by a former male lover...something that she'd rather not have become public knowledge. It isn't long before one of Goddard's female assistants (someone who happens to favor her in appearance) is murdered, quickly followed by the apparent suicide of the stalker. Things, however, don't feel right to Randall, but before she can get a firm grasp on the situation, she is fired by her client. This doesn't stop our sharp PI. She decides to do a little investigating on her own to find out what is really going on behind the scenes and becomes the target of an unknown assailant, leading her into 'Spencer' territory as she comes into contact with Tony Marcus and Ty-Bop. While all of this is going on, Randall also has to play nursemaid to her sister, Elizabeth, and her best friend, Julie, both of whom are having serious problems in their marriages. Now, if Mr. Parker had stayed with the main plot of the story, instead of veering off with the subplots, he would have had a great novel here. Mr. Parker spends too much time on the problems of Elizabeth and Julie, rather than on Sunny Randall cracking open the case in her usual head-on-attack manner. Last, but not the least, is the ending. For me, it is a virtual letdown in how Mr. Parker chooses to reveal the solutions to everything. He has done much better in most of previous books. Still, with all things considered, PERISH TWICE is a good read. Even when Mr. Parker writes what I consider to be an average novel, it is still levels above most of what is being published out there. His dialogue is always a pure pleasure to read, and he has created a wonderful character in the nature of Sunny Randall. She simply deserves better!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Spenser in drag.........but a terrific read anyway. Love the character so much I went out and bought Family Honor. Keep up the good work. How about a Sunny Randall/Spenser combo, and get rid of Susan Silverman. What a book that would be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Boston P.I., Sunny Randall, is up to her neck with three seperate cases...each of the cases will push Sunny to the absolute limits, and if she is not careful...she may end up dead. Sunny is hired by prominent feminist, Mary Lou Goddard, to put an end to the stalker that has been harassing her...she must also tail her brother in-law on allegations of cheating...AND she must emotionally support her best friend, Julie, who has started having an affair. As if dealing with her sister and best friend are not hard enough, Sunny is thrown into the Boston underworld while investigating the Goddard case. 'Perish Twice' is another masterful tale by Robert B. Parker; the plot moves along quickly, blending the three plots with mystery and suspense as only he can. Fans will welcome the return of Sunny (in her second novel), and new readers will immediately be hooked. Nick Gonnella