Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187
As is usually the case in the Spenser books, Sudden Mischief relies heavily on the central character's crisp, witty first-person narration. One of the secrets of Spenser's appeal is his no-nonsense candor and the way he skewers many of the things we take for granted in society. The dialogue between...
(The entire section contains 1127 words.)
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As is usually the case in the Spenser books, Sudden Mischief relies heavily on the central character's crisp, witty first-person narration. One of the secrets of Spenser's appeal is his no-nonsense candor and the way he skewers many of the things we take for granted in society. The dialogue between Spenser and Hawk (and to a lesser degree between Spenser and Susan), gives voice to Parker's views on a diverse range of topics and pokes fun at everything from political correctness and contemporary sexual mores to the fitness craze and the rantings of self-help gurus.
In most respects, Sudden Mischief does not introduce any fresh narrative techniques or innovative plot complications, although having a male private detective attempt to help the former husband of the detective's "significant other" is an off-beat plot development. Like most detective novels, this one features a slam-bang ending. Brad returns to Susan's apartment, and Spenser confronts him there. At the same time, Susan is forced to deal with the reality that her ex-husband really is a ruthless con man who is more than capable of murder if it suits his evil ends.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 293
Robert Parker has identified crime writer Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) as the major influence on his fiction. In fact, Parker paid homage to the British-born novelist in 1989 when he completed Chandler's unfinished novel Poodle Springs, and again two years later when he wrote Perchance to Dream, a sequel to Chandler's 1939 classic The Big Sleep. What is more, Chandler's famous detective Philip Marlowe provided a heroic model for Spenser, and it is clear that Chandler's wise-cracking and ironic dialogue is echoed in Parker's writing.
However, apparently it was not Chandler, but rather the mystery writer Ross Macdonald (1915-1983), who inspired Parker in his writing of Sudden Mischief. Macdonald (whose popular Lew Archer series includes such novels as The Moving Target, Underground Man, and Blue Hammer), along with Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, The Glass Key, etc.) and Chandler, are considered to be the godfathers of the hard-boiled detective fiction. Aside from its roots in this genre, Parker's fiction owes a nod to the influence of Ernest Hemingway, who pioneered the lean and terse narrative style that has become a hallmark of Parker's writing. The Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser provided Parker's detective hero with his surname, and the poet Spenser's epic poem The Faerie Queene (1590-1596) celebrates romantic and chivalric ideals in an allegorical setting. For the first time, Parker's title Sudden Mischief and epigraph (a quotation that appears at the beginning of a book or a chapter) are taken from The Faerie Queene; other Spenser novels have used titles and epigraphs from Elizabethan poets (including William Shakespeare and John Donne) and nineteenth-century and twentieth-century romantic poets (such as William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Robert Browning, and W. B. Yeats) as reminders of Spenser's loyalty to a code of romantic ideals.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 74
There is a Dove Entertainment audiotape version of Sudden Mischief, which is read by actor William Windom. No film adaptation of this novel has been made yet, but there was an ABC television series Spenser for Hire (1985-1988), which featured the characters of Spenser, Hawk, Susan, Martin Quirk, Frank Belson, and Rita Force. This series, which starred Robert Urich as Spenser and Avery Brooks as Hawk, lives on in rerun syndication on cable television.