"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.
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
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)
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.
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.