Robert B. Parker
Putnam, 2000 (2000)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
is the second in Robert Parker's new series about P.I. Sunny Randall (she had her debut appearance in
). She remains an interesting character, though Spenser's ghost lingers with comments like '
' that suited him much better than they do her. In her first appearance the author borrowed from an early Spenser plot to rescue a child from a dysfunctional family. This time around, he's dug into his early novels for a feminist client.
ary Lou Goddard, who runs a feminist organization called Great Strides, hires Sunny to protect her from a stalker, but fires her very quickly afterwards. Sunny has time on her hands and stubborn curiosity in spades, so she digs deeper. Two deaths quickly follow, and the police, officially labelling it a murder/suicide, encourage Sunny to investigate. She does, with Spenser's inimitable style.
n the side, she walks her bull terrier Rosie and counsels friends and family - her disliked elder sister Elizabeth has kicked out her husband and is now stalking him; her best friend Julie has inexplicably left husband and kids. Sunny feels like Dr. Ruth but of course copes. She pursues the investigation in parallel, and uncovers links to a pimp and to mobster Tony Marcus, getting shot at in the process.
nfortunately it's all just a bit too easy; there's little tension in the tale. Everyone admires and helps Sunny from the police and the mob to her gay friend Spike (who acts as the occasional heavy) and her ex-husband Rich whose gangster family provide bodyguards and extra pressure on demand. And Rich himself remains two dimensional; their relationship did not develop at all in this episode.
f course, like many others, I still enjoy Parker's wit and style even when it is diluted, so will continue to read Sunny's recycled version of the original Spenser stories with some degree of pleasure.
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