Reviewed and Researched by Lisa Shea
OK, here we go with Round 2 of Sunny Randall, the Female Spenser. Sunny was even a copy before she was a PI. I am a HUGE fan of the Spenser series, and enjoy the Stone series even though it has many questionable aspects. But as much as I try, I just cannot enjoy this one. Sunny has a sister who she treats as a leper, always claiming her sister is pure evil but proving she is just about as bad in her actions. There is the stereotypical 'manly but sensitive gay' at her side, plus a best friend who has decided to sleep around and leave her husband. She of course loves her ex husband but can't live with him - this plague afflicts every main character in any Robert B Parker universe. Sunny gets a case with a stereotypical 'dour feminist' (Spenser lifted her from his previous books). There's a murder, then two, and just like Spenser, Sunny keeps digging even though she has no client. She ends up getting into trouble, does some really foolish things, and then has to have her ex-husband's family save her. Sunny's entire character from start to finish really makes me cringe about being a female. When I imagine myself as a detective, I imagine myself as a noble, strong, caring Spenser. I don't imagine myself as a whining, status-conscious, needing-a-guy person like Sunny.
Lisa Says: As if you couldn't tell from that summary, this was a book that was at some points actually painful to read. The stereotypes are so black and white. Spenser was always a bit heavy-handed - victimized gays, dour lesbians, misunderstood poor, jerk rich people. I can take that, Parker's witty style and cool plotting was fun enough. But now the main character has turned into a snotty spoiled brat who looks down her nose at others who she feels are 'not worthy'.
We start with Sunny and her Guatemalan Starbucks Coffee. Sunny's sis is 38 and wants to talk about sex. Sunny is all huffy that this cannot be discussed between sisters. What?? Sunny is 35 - we're not talking about 8 year olds here. If the sis has a question about sex, who else SHOULD she talk to? Heck, I am 35 and sex is not a taboo topic with my sis, if she has a question.
Sunny takes on the task of watching her sis' husband and sure enough, he is cheating. This really upsets the sis, as well it should. Sunny isn't very sympathetic. The husband is a real jerk, saying things like "I dislike her [the sis] so instead of leaving her I'm going to stay but cheat on her". Somehow Sunny claims she really likes the jerk!
Next, Spenser has Sunny talk with a feminist lesbian, who Sunny torments right from the start. Sunny recommends getting guys to talk to the stalker. Of course she couldn't handle this task herself. Next she heads to have lunch with a good friend and claims the reason she uses men is she can't find a female who can shoot. What??? I've shot on pistol teams and there are females on just about every team I know of. I don't know how much more sterotypical this book can get.
Now driving her forest green Subaru station wagon around town, it's November. Sunny makes comments about "she didn't look as good as I did". There goes the nail for me into that coffin - she's now judging women by their looks. It makes me feel icky just to remember the scene for this review. Good God Almighty.
Sunny admires her sister's husband in his 'dressed up' business look and tells him to cheat. By now I'm finding it hard to keep reading. Let's see. She wears 'glossy coral tights in case someone might be glancing at me'. She visits her sis's house in Weston and complains that there are too many trees. Next, the bar. It's unladylike to say "Ahhhhhhhhhh" apparently, but it's fine to watch your married friend sleep around with random bar strangers. Then she laughs at her sister for using ... Personal Ads (gulp).
Painting is in here, mentioned only briefly, to give her character a splash of color. Then we're back to the standard stuff again. The strong, powerful ex husband who is always there. The sister who she loves to trash. Now to be clear here, I don't think the sis is all that stellar, obviously the sis is a bit status-conscious to say the least. But judging by Sunny's behavior, there isn't much difference between the two.
Soon she's sitting with Tony Marcus where she's being 'cute' and eating toast off his plate. Then we have the speech that is in EVERY book Parker has ever made, pretty much. Richie wants monogamy with her and she says their relationship is "the only kind I am capable of right now". "I'm in this for the long haul" says he. EVERY guy says that. EVERY girl says that. Couldn't we at least have a situation where the GIRL is the one in it for the long haul, and the GUY is the one who is resisting???
Every other chapter (with chapters being literally only 3-4 pages long) we have Sunny saying "don't make any serious decisions". There are SO many accomodations for Sunny because she's female. When Sunny shoots someone and holds a gun to a suspect, the cops let her stand there with a gun. If it was Spenser, they'd make Spenser put down the gun before they did anything. Sunny goes on about who Daddy loves best - making it out that sis Elizabeth is the one who cares, but Sunny seems to use that card far more than Elizabeth does.
When you get to the end, everything falls apart. She has to use her ex-husband's family to arrange the discussion. She talks to Tony and verifies what she already knew anyway. And then she does nothing anyway - and there are her ex and Spike to protect her, and she breaks down in tears.
It just kills me that a writer who is capable of such gorgeous style and whose earlier Spenser books I loved dearly has created a female character that I am close to despising. I used to DREAM about having Parker write a female character because it would be so perfect. Now I really wish he hadn't, because the character is so, so ... stereotypically "girly". If this is what Parker feels is "a great female, strong character", it really makes me cringe for what is to come in future books.
Traveling in Sunny's Footprints|
weston - post road - big yellow colonial house
Sunny's apartment in Boston
Spike's restaurant in Quincy Market
Casablanca with friend Julia
Reeves Home - Brookline street - 2 family yellow clapboard with maroon asphat shingles on roof
Cone Oaks office with Hal
Casablanca in Harvard Square with Julia
Weston at sister's house
Walk on Summer st to bridge over fort point channel with rosie
Blue Ginger in Wellesley with Spike
watertown - 2 family house with white aluminum siding - bonnie winslow
saloon - portland street with richie
blossom shop in cambridge
central square in cambridge - police w/Larkin
Natick - Norman castle motel
apt complex off rte 38 in stoneham - Gretchen dead woman
coach house in sudbury on post road
harvest with julie. got coke
Mort's office in Waltham in warehouse
revere street beacon hill - natalie, girlfriend of mary lou. "Dickensian".
Buy Perish Twice from Amazon.com
Sunny's Menu and Drinks|
wine at apt while bro-in-law has bourbon on the rocks.
Perrier at Casablanca - drinking at lunch makes her sleepy
Merlot at Casablanca
Fit as a Fiddle gourmet shop - chicken caesar salad and pumpkin soup
Casablanca - Belvedere martini on the rocks with a twist
boston harbor hotel with julie. cranberry juice with club soda and slice orange, salad
2 cups coffee
good coffee & oatmeal scone with maple frosting
diner mass ave near corner of magazine st in roxbury; she has tea
white wine in kitchen while Julie has bourbon and water
Spenser for Hire Master Listing
The Spenser for Hire Books|
The Godwulf Manuscript, 73
God Save the Child, 74
Mortal Stakes, 75
Promised Land, 76
The Judas Goat, 78
Looking for Rachel Wallace, 80
Early Autumn, 81
A Savage Place, 81
The Widening Gyre, 83
A Catskill Eagle, 85
Taming a Sea Horse, 86
Pale Kings and Princes, 87
Crimson Joy, 88
Double Deuce, 92
Paper Doll, 93
Walking Shadow, 94
Thin Air, 95
Small Vices, 97
Sudden Mischief, 98
Hush Money, 99
Hugger Mugger, 00
Widows Walk, 02
Back Story, 03
Cold Service, 04
School Days, 05
Hundred-Dollar Baby, 06
Now and Then, 07
The Jesse Stone Series|
About Paradise, Mass
Night Passage, 00
Trouble in Paradise, 02
Death in Paradise, 03
Stone Cold, 04
Sea Change, 06
High Profile, 07
Night and Day, 09
The Sunny Randall Series
Family Honor, 99
Perish Twice, 00
Shrink Wrap, 02
Melancholy Baby, 04
Blue Screen, 05
Spare Change, 07
Season List 85-88
Movies - Spenser
Pale King and Princes, 93
The Judas Goat, 94
A Savage Place, 95
Small Vices, 99
Thin Air, 00
Walking Shadow, 01
Movies - Jesse Stone
Jesse Stone - Movie Locations
Stone Cold, 05
Night Passage, 06
Death in Paradise, 06
Sea Change, 07
Thin Ice, 09
No Remorse, 10
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