Spare Change (Sunny Randall Series #6)

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Overview

The new Sunny Randall novel first time in mass market

Boston P.I. Sunny Randall joins forces with the most important man in her life—her father—to crack a thirty-year-old case.

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2007 Hard cover New in fine dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 304 p. Sunny Randall Novels. Audience: General/trade. Boston-Worcester, Mass.; ... Family; Feminine; Fiction; Massachusetts; Mystery & Detective; New England; Women Sleuths Read more Show Less

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Spare Change (Sunny Randall Series #6)

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Overview

The new Sunny Randall novel first time in mass market

Boston P.I. Sunny Randall joins forces with the most important man in her life—her father—to crack a thirty-year-old case.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"Hi Phil: You miss me? I got bored, so I thought I'd re-establish our relationship. Give us both something to do in our later years. Stay tuned. Spare Change." The playful letter received by retired cop Phil Randall was not from an old buddy or a long-lost college flame. It's from a serial killer who leaves three coins as a signature next to each corpse. For 20 years, Spare Change had been retired, but now he's back, and Randall hopes desperately that he and his daughter Sunny can stop a second reign of terror.
Publishers Weekly

Not all of Sunny Randall's cases have been personal, but this one, her sixth, raises the average. Her on-again, off-again romance with her ex-husband is on again in a big way. And she's working an investigation with her father, Phil, an ec-cop lured from retirement by a slayer using the same modus operandi (coins left on beautiful female corpses) as the serial killer he hunted 30 years before. Parker's snappy dialogue keeps the story moving along. Burton is too smart to let Sunny slip into girliness when she's chatting with her beloved dad or her ultraromantic ex-husband, and she never makes her too cute or too tough in her cat-and-mouse encounters with the man she's certain is the Spare Change Killer. Instead, Burton maintains Sunny's professional edge, using subtle shifts of phrasing or timing to indicate the emotions the sleuth is keeping under wraps. She is just as successful in finding the right voices for the other main characters: flirtatious and sinister for the prime suspect in pursuit of Sunny; and gruff frustration for Phil Randall, who is worried for his daughter's safety. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 9). (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Forbes Magazine
Robert B. Parker is that rarity--a prolific author whose books are consistently original, suspenseful and fascinating. His crackling dialogue is always fresh and smart-alecky. His sparse prose makes Hemingway seem like a windbag. You don't have to work to get into Parker's books. You're happily hooked before you know it. He published three mysteries in 2007 (G.P. Putnam's Sons). Spare Change ($24.95).Boston PI Sunny Randall is asked by her father and former cop, Phil, to help him investigate what appears to be the return of a serial killer who leaves three coins next to each of his head-shot victims. Now, after a 30-year hiatus, the killer is back at his grim business. Phil headed--unsuccessfully--the original investigations of these killings and is now back to assist police in tracking down the killer. After interviewing a number of people rounded up because they were in proximity to a recent killing, Sunny thinks she's found the villain. But how to get the proof? Hunches are not enough. Sunny takes a high-risk approach, going out to dinner with the suspect, who seems to take perverse pleasure in being investigated.

The case becomes even more dangerous and urgent when the killer starts choosing victims who resemble Sunny. The suspense is periodically punctuated by many of the characters' various--and usually messy--personal relationships, including Sunny's ex-husband, who comes from a mob family. High Profile ($24.95). The hero in this tale is Jesse Stone, the alcohol-challenged police chief of a small town called Paradise. Stone's battle with the bottle forced him out of the Los Angeles Police Department. A controversial libertarian talk-radio host, Walton Weeks, is found shot andhanging from a tree in Paradise. Shortly thereafter another body turns up in a Dumpster--that of a young woman who had worked for Weeks and was pregnant with his child. Amazingly, Weeks' former wives and current wife seem oddly detached. But Weeks' notoriety has Stone coping with a deluge of media, as well as a publicity-hungry state governor. As in Spare Change, the characters here all have less-than-perfect personal lives. Stone, for instance, is still obsessed with his ex-wife, even though she is what was once called a "loose woman." Despite these and other personal sideshows, the story proceeds absorbingly and briskly.

Now & Then ($25.95). Parker's third home-run novel involves his original hero-character, Spenser (whose first name is still a mystery). A routine case of an aggrieved husband wanting to find out for sure if his attractive wife has been unfaithful veers into several murders involving a gang of terrorists. Spenser's longtime squeeze, Susan Silverman, a both-feet-on-the-ground shrink, finds herself in mortal danger as she treats a suspected killer who prides himself on being able to seduce any woman he desires. You'll remain oblivious to the rest of the world as you race through Parker's latest mesmerizing masterpiece. (7 Jan 2008)
—Steve Forbes

Library Journal
Holed up for three decades, a nasty killer called Spare Change returns, and Phil Randall shucks off retirement to track him down--with the help of daughter Sunny Randall, Parker P.I. extraordinaire. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sunny Randall joins her father, pulled out of retirement, and every cop in Boston to catch a serial killer who's skipped a generation. Twenty years ago the Spare Change Killer terrorized the city. He shot seven victims, leaving three coins near each body, before stopping as suddenly and mysteriously as he'd begun. Now Spare Change, or somebody who's copying both his m.o. and the style of the obligatory taunting notes he sent Phil Randall, is back in business. Frustrated because the task force he headed never cleared the earlier murders, Phil is eager to consult on the current spate, especially when his beloved shamus daughter agrees to help. It isn't long before Sunny identifies a suspect who, after a single "welcome aboard" note to her, tries a more direct approach: a series of meetings at which he drinks with her and uses his noncommittal obsession with the case to flirt. Still bruised from her fling with Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone (Blue Screen, 2006), Sunny would be in no mood for romance even if her suitor weren't a probable serial killer. So the case, starved for mystery, devolves into a cat-and-mouse game with a perp whose florid behavior is notably in excess of any explanation his climactic confession offers for it. What's left is what's always left even in Parker's worst: the knowing, laconic dialogue, the endless posturing, the nuggets of hard-won wisdom you never could've come up with yourself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399154256
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/5/2007
  • Series: Sunny Randall Series , #6
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert B. Parker was the author of seventy books, including the legendary Spenser detective series, the novels featuring Police Chief Jesse Stone, and the acclaimed Virgil Cole-Everett Hitch westerns, as well as the Sunny Randall novels. Winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award and long considered the undisputed dean of American crime fiction, he died in January 2010.

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

Biography

Robert B. Parker began as a student of hard-boiled crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but when he became a crime writer himself, he was one of the rare contemporary authors to be considered on par with his predecessors. The Spenser series, featuring a Boston-based ex-boxer and ex-cop, is one of the genre's most respected and popular fixtures.

Noted for their sharp dialogue and fine character development, the Spenser books carry on a tradition while updating it, particularly in giving its hero two strong alter egos in Hawk, a black friend and right-hand man; and Susan Silverman, Spenser's psychologist love interest. Parker's inclusion of other races and sexual persuasions (several of his novels feature gay characters, a sensibility strengthened in Parker through his sons, both of whom are gay) give a more modern feel to the cases coming into Spenser's office.

The Spenser series, which began with 1973's The Godwulf Manuscript, has an element of toughness that suits its Boston milieu; but it delves just as often into the complex relationship between Silverman and Spenser, and the interplay between the P.I. and Hawk.

By the late ‘80s, Parker had acquired such a reputation that the agent for Raymond Chandler's estate tapped him to finish the legend's last book, Poodle Springs. It was a thankless mission bound to earn criticism, but Parker carried off the task well, thanks to his gift for to-the-point writing and deft plotting. "Parker isn't, even here, the writer Chandler was, but he's not a sentimentalist, and he darkens and deepens Marlowe," the Atlantic concluded. In 1991, Parker took a second crack at Chandler with the Big Sleep sequel Perchance to Dream.

Parker took other detours from Spenser over the years. In 1999, Family Honor introduced Sunny Randall, a female Boston private eye Parker created with actress Helen Hunt in mind. Two years earlier, he introduced L.A.-to-New England cop transplant Jesse Stone in Night Passage. He also authored four bestselling Westerns featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, a few young adult books, as well as several stand-alone novels that were well-received by his many fans.

Parker died suddenly in January 2010 while at home at his desk, working on a book. The cause was a heart attack. He was seventy-seven.

Good To Know

Parker's thesis in graduate school was a study of the private eye in literature that centered on Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross MacDonald. Critics would later put him in the same category as those authors.

Parker's main hero is named for Edmund Spenser, the 16th-century author of The Faerie Queene.

Parker had a hand in writing the scripts for some television adaptations of Spenser books starring Robert Urich, who also played Spenser in the ABC series from 1985-88. Urich suffered a battle with cancer and passed away in 2002, but adaptations continue to be made for A&E, starring Joe Mantegna. Parker approved of the new actor, telling the New York Times: ''I looked at Joe and I saw Spenser."

According to a profile in the New York Times, Parker met his wife Joan when the two were toddlers at a birthday party. The two reconnected as freshmen at Colby College and eventually had two sons. They credit the survival of their marriage to a house split into separate living spaces, so that the two can enjoy more independent lives than your average husband and wife.

Parker told fans in a 1999 Barnes & Noble.com chat that he thought his non-series historical novel All Our Yesterdays was "the best thing I've ever written."

Parker had a small speaking part in the 1997 A&E adaptation of Small Vices. How does he have time to write his Spenser books, plus the other series and the adaptation stuff? "Keep in mind, it takes me four or five months to write a novel, which leaves me a lot of time the rest of the year," he told Book magazine. "I don't like to hang around."

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

4 Star

(6)

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(4)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 26, 2010

    Disappointing and dull

    I'm not sure which was more of a let down, the stilted, boring dialogue or the under developed characters. I finished the book, although it was totally predictable. Don't waste your reading time; find a different book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    So-So Sunny

    It's okay... I just think Parker is confusing his writing style a little for this series with that of Jesse Stone. Although I will say that Parker does write "female" well. Women authors frequently write male leads better than men write women.

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  • Posted July 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Spare Change: Sixth Sunny Sparse on Suspense

    As a devoted reader of Robert B. Parker, I was disappointed in Spare Change. It was like eating Angel Food Cake. Parker set a trap for himself when he began mixing characters from his other series (Susan Silvermann, Jesse Stone, etc.) and now he has fallen into it with a sparse plot and sketchy outlines of characters we already know well. On the whole, this is a shallow effort. Given his dabbling with westerns (the Virgil Coles -- which I enjoy) maybe he's bored with Spenser, Jesse, and Sunny. Or maybe he's already written it all in his very rich and distinguished career. Hopefully, he will recover his stride in the future -- maybe with a plot that puts Richie on the bulls eye and does more to explore the depth of the relationship between Sunny and him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2009

    Why do people rave about Robert Parker?

    I have read all the Jesse Stone novels and enjoyed them (as well as the tv movies). So I decided I'd pick up another Parker novel and try it, so I got the audio version of this book from my library. First of all, the narrator obviously hasn't spent much time around Boston and the accent wasn't good. I wish people would just read straight rather than try to affect an accent if they don't have the knack. Then, the plot. My gosh- there was nothing to try to figure out! It just went on and on. Don't believe I'll be reading any more of this guy (except Jesse Stone).

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    Spare Change

    Parker delivers another wonderful Sunny Randall mystery. She's a delightful heroine.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    The book was "okay."

    Something was lacking. It was not up to Parker's usual page-turning quality.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    Best of Parker

    I liked Spare Change because it is engaging. It sucks you right into the plot.

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    Not his best. Just another cranked out under his name.

    Disappointing effort by Parker. Is someone else writing using his name and reputation??

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Spare Change is the best Sunny Randall Novel so far.

    I've always liked Sunny Randall as a character, but I always felt the Sunny Randal series hasn't had an unforgettable novel to establish Sunny as an unforgettable character. This one cemented the deal for me. I have enjoyed her relationships with characters from the both the Spencer series of novels and the Jesse Stone series of novels. Since I have read most of those novels, I find the cross-use of the characters from other books unique and satisfying. (But this novel can be read as a stand alone if you are not familiar with the other two series.) While Sunny Randal has unique marital problems, they are simililar to Jesse Stone's problems and the more the reader gets to know these two characters, the better the books are. Sunny's ex-husband and her protector, Spike, are very unique and likeable characters. Sunny's father plays a big role in this novel, and it is an interesting way of learning how Sunny became a second generation detective. But the thing that makes this novel great is one of the most unique serial killers I have ever encountered in any series. This is a real page-turner that is hard to put down. It will keep you second-guessing right up until the very end. I have read almost every Robert Parker mystery, and I single this one out as one of his very best!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A good read for someone with "spare time"

    Robert B. Parker's "Spare Change" was an enjoyable read. I recently finished his "Melancholy Baby" and had guessed the plot halfway through. "Spare Change," on the other hand, kept me guessing a lot longer. It was almost as though this book was more enjoyable for Mr. Parker to write, and as such, more enjoyable for me to read. <BR/><BR/>I would definitely recommend this book for someone who has "spare time" :) <BR/><BR/>J.R. Reardon<BR/>author, "Confidential Communications"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    Dear Me!! Parker slides ever further into his prolonged funk. This could have been readable if anything at all about Sunny's part in the investigation rang true. The ending is laughable and Spenser's friend Susan Silverman makes a, as per her style, irratating appearence. Funniest bit was Sunny in therapy wondering just how old Susan might be. She decides that Susan 'might' be a couple of years older than herself. Sunny, you are supposed to be about 30. Susan, using the Spenser books as a guide is well into her sixties if not older. Babe, if you think that she looks just a couple of years older than you then you better think about reconstructive surgery for yourself. This is better than the last Jesse Stone book but still rates as a huge waste of time for the reader. Parker needs to write fewer books and up the quality level or his readership will look elsewhere for their reading entertainment.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    While this is Parker's sixth Sunny Randall novel, first-time readers needn't be at all shy about dropping in. They'll soon feel right at home, and home is a carefully chosen word as so much of Parker's story revolves around family and the importance of familial relationships. The banter between Sunny and her father, retired cop Phil Randall, is a joy to read. The characters are real, authentic and you'll quickly find yourself caring about each of them, even Rosie, Sunny and ex Richie's bull terrier (they share custody). Some 20 years ago a serial killer was on the loose. Boston newspapers dubbed him the Spare Change Killer because he left three coins by his victims after shooting the unsuspecting behind the right ear. At that time Phil was the lead investigator in the case, taunted by notes from the killer. Phil doesn't much care for unsolved cases, and this one really bothered him. Now, after two decades, there's another note and another killing. 'Hi, Phil,' it reads. 'You miss me? I got bored, so I thought I'd reestablish our relationship. Give us both something to do in our later years. Stay tuned. Spare Change.' The original killer surfacing after all this time or a copy cat? Police immediately call upon Phil to consult on the case and he calls upon Sunny to help him. She is, of course, pleased to be asked. As she says, 'I loved my father. My sister and I had competed with my mother for his attention all our lives. I was thrilled to have him sharing space with me.' Very soon the arduous task of interviewing suspects is begun, and Sunny has her eye on one man. No one agrees with her but this is a determined woman. She sets out to bait a trap for the man, little realizing the danger she's putting herself in. As is often the case, the outcome isn't much of a surprise but it's such a pleasure getting there! For this reader, Parker is tops. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2007

    dysfunctional people get boring very fast

    I enjoyed the first Sunny Randall book but this is the last one I will read. It was so boring and my patience with her has ended. What a stupid relationship with her ex and way too much of it. Perhaps she and Jesse Stone should get together and jump off a bridge.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    PARKER AND BURTON ARE A WINNING TEAM

    While there have been other readers of the Sunny Randall novels, for this listener the best was found last year with Kate Burton's narration of Blue Screen. Thank goodness the powers that be know a winner when they find one and stayed with her. Burton has it all - incredible voice, impeccable diction, an actress's feel for a role, and superb presentation. This is Parker's sixth Sunny Randall novel, yet first-time listeners needn't be at all shy about dropping in. They'll soon feel right at home, and home is a carefully chosen word as so much of Parker's story revolves around family and the importance of familial relationships. The banter between Sunny and her father, retired cop Phil Randall, is a joy to hear. The characters are real, authentic and you'll quickly find yourself caring about each of them, even Rosie, Sunny and ex Richie's bull terrier (they share custody). Some 20 years ago a serial killer was on the loose. Boston newspapers dubbed him the Spare Change Killer because he left three coins by his victims after shooting the unsuspecting behind the right ear. At that time Phil was the lead investigator in the case, taunted by notes from the killer. Phil doesn't much care for unsolved cases, and this one really bothered him. Now, after two decades, there's another note and another killing. 'Hi, Phil,' it reads. 'You miss me? I got bored, so I thought I'd reestablish our relationship. Give us both something to do in our later years. Stay tuned. Spare Change.' The original killer surfacing after all this time or a copy cat? Police immediately call upon Phil to consult on the case and he calls upon Sunny to help him. She is, of course, pleased to be asked. As she says, 'I loved my father. My sister and I had competed with my mother for his attention all our lives. I was thrilled to have him sharing space with me.' Very soon the arduous task of interviewing suspects is begun, and Sunny has her eye on one man. No one agrees with her but this is a determined woman. She sets out to bait a trap for the man, little realizing the danger she's putting herself in. As is often the case, the outcome isn't much of a surprise but it's such a pleasure getting there! For this listener, Parker and Burton are a winning team. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    do not bother buying this book

    boring. too much dialogue,not enough suspense and action. if you must read this author, wait for the paperback edition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2007

    Great Book!

    Robert Parker has another BESTSELLER on his hands with his newest book, 'Spare Change.' I don't know how he manages to write great story after great story time and time again! I am in awe of his talent to seduce his readers! The characters are interesting and his plots are very suspenseful! I am thrilled to recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2007

    Same old, same old

    Dialog is preachy - just like all his other books. Enjoyed the humor in the older books, can't find it in the later ones.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great entry in this fine series

    Twenty years ago Boston police detective Phil Randall was head of the task force that was committed to apprehending The Spare Change Killer, who killed without regard to stereotype but always left three coins by the victim¿s body. He kept on writing to Phil, trying to engage him in a dialog until abruptly killings stopped. Now, two decades later, somebody with the same MO is killing again.--------------- Phil is hired by the Boston police force as a consultant and he brings along his daughter Sunny, a private detective who was as good a cop as he ever was. During the third homicide, the police seal off the scene and people within the perimeter are held for questioning. At police headquarters, one of the suspects seems to be getting off on being questioned. Sunny goes in and within minutes she tells the investigators they have the killer. Most of the officers believe her but they have no evidence or cause to search his premises. Sunny is determined to take him down and has ways of doing it that the police are unable to use because they are illegal.--------------- Robert B. Parker has written another exciting police procedural with well defined well liked characters who are full of snappy dialogue especially when events are at their most serious. Sunny works the case as a way of avoiding personal issues such as her inability to live with or marry a man even one she loves who has just separated from his wife for her. Sunny is a more complex character than Spencer and just as likeable.--------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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