Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SUDDEN MISCHIEF by Robert B. Parker




“I have nearly all my life tended to solve problems by whacking someone in the mouth.  I contain that tendency better than I used to, but it hasn’t gone away.”

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In Robert B. Parker’s 25th Spenser Novel Sudden Mischief, Spenser is not exactly what he claims to be.

He is action-oriented.  When Susan asks him to help her first husband who is on the edge of bankruptcy, Spenser tries to help.  He uncovers a cheating wife, a money-laundering scheme, and at least two murders.  But he and Susan spend a lot of time talking psychology, too. 

If this were a computer review, I’d list the pros and cons, so (in short form) here goes—

THE CON

            --Over-psychologizing.  Too much talking about why Susan wanted Spenser to help, why she married or had relationships with at least two losers, and why she finally settled on Spenser.

THE PRO

--A clever ending in which Spenser wraps up all the loose ends, though it looks like he won’t be able to.  Spenser keeps his word, even to the cops and crooks involved.  And, of course, he makes it possible to get the bad guy.


I prefer the action Spenser, the Spenser mirrored in the quote at the beginning.  I like the Spenser whose main strategy is go in, knock things around, and see what happens.  And that’s how he operates here. 

But for me, there was too much psychologizing. 

Many might feel this is one of the Spenser books which contains Susan’s story, which reveals Susan’s psychological cracks, which makes Susan seem both weak and strong.

In the end, one of the things that makes the ending of this book memorable is that Spenser acts against type.  He lets Susan be in charge in a very dangerous situation.  He doesn’t pull the trigger.

So for me, this was a good book, but it had its pros and cons.

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