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Robert B. Parker's Blood Feud: A Sunny Randall Novel

Review

Robert B. Parker's Blood Feud: A Sunny Randall Novel

One of the primary questions that has been asked since Robert B. Parker’s sudden death in 2010 is whether or not someone would take up the reins of his Sunny Randall series. Sunny, a Boston private investigator with an interesting public and private life, appeared to have vanished into the ether. The question of succession has been answered with the publication of the wonderfully written BLOOD FEUD. The author of this extremely pleasant surprise is Mike Lupica, a somewhat acerbic sportswriter and political commentator who is also the highly regarded author of sports novels for younger readers. So it should not be a shock to learn that this book is a fast-paced and entertaining read that is true to Parker’s voice.

Lupica picks up where Parker left off on SPARE CHANGE without a misstep. Sunny is involved with her ex-husband, Richie Burke, demonstrating that the old flame still flickers. Richie, who comes from a well-known Boston-area crime family, has eschewed his father’s and brothers’ business. Apparently this is not enough to save him, as he is the victim of a deliberate street shooting. The interesting element of the hit is that it is obviously professional, but the doer shoots Richie to (seriously) wound, not to kill, making reference to “the sins of the father” as he lay bleeding in the street.

"I cannot imagine that anyone who was a fan of Sunny during the Parker years would be anything less than totally satisfied with Lupica’s stellar handling of the character."

The attack is by no means the last of the moves against the Burke crime family. Things escalate, and soon there is a trail of bodies that lead ever closer to Desmond Burke, the family patriarch. The problems with investigating the shootings are that the Burkes will not talk to the police, and there are countless suspects. Regarding the latter, Desmond has left an army of enemies in his wake on both sides of the law, but particularly among his fellow crime families.

Sunny, motivated by her concern for Richie and her relationship with her quasi-father-in-law, takes it upon herself --- even when her help is not wanted --- to investigate the several tentacles of Desmond’s past to see who has the greatest grudge against him and possibly the most to gain. She manages to uncover a family secret or two along the way that also fractures a few of her own alliances, the consequences of which may play out in future installments of the series.

Lupica hits all the right notes here, from the stunning cover and a couple of cameo appearances from some characters in one of Parker’s other series to the very satisfying ending. It also contains one of those unintentional ironies that puts the events in BLOOD FEUD squarely in the real world. Whitey Bulger, who is frequently mentioned as an influential player in the background of the book, was murdered in prison while I was reading it, making the ruthlessness described therein all the more believable.

Even with that aside, I cannot imagine that anyone who was a fan of Sunny during the Parker years would be anything less than totally satisfied with Lupica’s stellar handling of the character. As for those who may not have been completely enamored of this particular Parker creation, I would urge them to read BLOOD FEUD. This would be a terrific and worthwhile novel if it was introducing a new PI series featuring a detective named Samantha Jones. That it continues the Sunny Randall canon, and does it so well, makes it all the better.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 30, 2018

Robert B. Parker's Blood Feud: A Sunny Randall Novel
by Mike Lupica

  • Publication Date: November 27, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525535365
  • ISBN-13: 9780525535362