Of recent Robert B. Parker mystery novels Spare Change, a Sunny Randall novel, is one of the better ones. Parker has become very recipe driven. He has been using his talent and long experience at writing good whodunits to get away with a very ordinary read -such as recent Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randall mysteries. Spare Change is a little less formulaic.
A mystery reader's interest in Spare Change mostly comes from Sunny Randall working with her father on a cold case involving a serial killer. The Spare Change killer taunted Boston detective Phil Randall some twenty years ago and the detective was unable to close it.
It seems the Spare Change killer is back and Phil Randall, looking for a fresh outlook, asks his daughter for her input on the case.
This time again, Parker is rather lazy and pads his story with chapters where Sunny Randall talks to Spenser ‘s girlfriend Susan Silverman about her relationship with her ex-husband and her father. There are also some rather bland chapters of the Randall home life where Sunny's mother and sister barely become cardboard characters. There are also a couple of chapters involving Randall's friend Julie.
Parker's serial killer is rather original and that makes up for the padding. The plot itself is somewhat repetitive: Sunny meets the killer, something happens, padding, Sunny meets the killer again, and so on.
This is certainly not a great Parker mystery by far but in comparison the many recent books it is a less irritating and somewhat better read.
Spare Change is a good beach read. Especially because a reader will not be particularly bummed if the book gets wet, lost, or covered in lotion.
The same reader will probably leave this mystery behind at the end of his vacation.
Other Robert B. Parker Reviews
Cold Service - A Spenser Mystery: A little less than a Spenser novel should be.
Double Play: Double Play, a suspense built around the story of baseball great Jackie Robinson
Melancholy Baby - A Sunny Randall Mystery: An entertaining whodunit.
Sea Change - A Jesse Stone Mystery: The fifth Jesse Stone novel and a solid read.
School Days - A Spenser Mystery: One of the better Spenser mystery novels. No Hawk, no Silverman.
Jesse Stone : Death In Paradise DVD: Third Jesse Stone DVD starring Tom Selleck, really really good mystery.
Jesse Stone: Night Passage DVD: First Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone second DVD in the series.
Hundred-Dollar Baby - A Spenser Mystery: A dreadful Spenser mystery. A waste of time and money
Blue Screen - A Sunny Randall Mystery: Very ordinary Sunny Randall mystery with stupid ending.
Jesse Stone : Sea Change DVD: Good stuff if subdued
High Profile - A Jesse Stone Mystery: Readable? Yes. Believable? Hmmm.
High Profile - A Jesse Stone Mystery: Banal mystery by writer who puts out too much.
Night and Day - A Jesse Stone Mystery: Good read and toss kind of mystery.
Jesse Stone - No Remorse DVD: Very moody but very good made for TV mystery
Rough Weather - A Spenser Mystery: Decent enough for a later Spenser.
Painted Ladies - A Spenser Novel: 39th Spenser and as ordinary as the last 12 or so
Jesse Stone - Innocents Lost DVD: 2011 TV movie. Good but formulaic
Jesse Stone - Benefit of the Doubt DVD: Eighth in the series and just as good.