The topic of recurring characters has come up on Spenser's Sneakers. Robert Parker has called back supporting characters more and more often over the years, for example bringing Jesse Stone into the Spenser book Back Story and bringing Susan Silverman into the Sunny Randall book Blue Screen. While some readers enjoy the crossovers, others see them as yet more evidence Parker is running out of ideas.
Why do readers, myself included, object? I think it has to do with how established each protag is. Jesse or Sunny can be brought into a Spenser book without taking much of the spotlight away from
Spenser. Bring Spenser into a Jesse book, or Jesse into a Sunny book, and the older, established protag may steal pages that could better be used to build up the newer, lesser known protag on his/her own.
On another note, each time Parker calls on a character like Hawk, it's more difficult to give the same weight to each appearance. I want to believe Parker's world is a varied one where anything can happen. I can't believe this when the same people show up as often as they do.
Does anyone feel the same thrill of menace from Hawk or the same concern for April Kyle and Paul Giacomin now that they've appeared in at least three books each?
One of Parker's few character who's kept her unique presence is Candy Sloan, and she only because Parker killed her off. Even this can be viewed as a shortcut. How would Susan feel if the woman Spenser cheated with were still alive? How would Spenser feel if Susan's one indiscretion, Russell Costigan, hadn't been such a bad guy after all? Conveniently for Parker, we will never know.