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Spare Change ? A Sunny Randall Mystery
Robert B. Parker
Berkley 2008
306 pages paperback

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.