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Spare Change    by Robert B. Parker order for
Spare Change
by Robert B. Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Spare Change, Sunny Randall helps her father Phil solve a cold case that recently turned white hot again. Captain Phil Randall never did track down the serial killer (dubbed Spare Change by the media for his habit for scattering loose coins at the scene) who sent him taunting letters. He's keen to help the Boston PD as a consultant now that someone - the original or a copycat? - is targeting seemingly random victims once more.

Sunny - who enjoyed a brief fling with another of Parker's flawed series leads, Jesse Stone, and sees Spenser's inamorata Susan Silverman as her shrink twice a week - gets closer to her elusive ex, Richie, once more in this episode. Though he married in the interim, his new wife is unhappy about his obsession with Sunny, and he moves out. Richie and Sunny, who have shared the care of their dog Rosie all along, meet each other for a cautious exploration of what might work for them to be together again. Relationships are as much the puzzle in Parker's novels as the mysteries themselves, and this time Sunny explores her ties to different friends and family members as well as to her beloved ex.

As the murderer keeps shooting new victims and the pressure rises to stop him, Sunny, Phil and the police task force zero in - using a combination of solid police procedures and strong intuition - on one man. Sunny puts herself at risk, to the dismay of her father and friends, to get close to this individual, who appears to enjoy flirting with her. From then on, it seems to be only a matter of securing a confession from the killer, but Parker still has surprises in store for his readers. As always, in Spare Change, he offers an enjoyable read filled with engaging banter and characters whose company is congenial.

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