Melancholy Baby: A Sunny Randall Novel

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9781842431405: Melancholy Baby: A Sunny Randall Novel

A New York Times Bestseller

Boston P.I. Sunny Randall is facing the unthinkable: the marriage of her ex-husband, Richie, to someone else. Despite the formality of divorce, Sunny and Richie's relationship had continued, in its own headstrong way, until Richie's desire for marriage overtook Sunny's need for freedom. So when college student Sarah Markham comes asking for help in finding her birth parents, Sunny realizes she must take the case, if only to distract her from her personal life. But life and work have a curious - and dangerous - way of intersecting. Before the investigation has a chance to take off, two key players are dead and Sunny is back on a psychiatrist's couch, probing her own past for clues.

  • Robert B. Parker lives in Boston
  • Robert B. Parker, the author of more than forty novels, has long been acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction and has recently been named Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen
  • His novels featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye Spenser have earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim, typified by R.W.B. Lewis' comment, "We are witnessing one of the great series in the history of the American detective story" (The New York Times Book Review)
  • Parker's fictional Spenser inspired the ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire. More recently, the Spenser novels Small Vices and Thin Air have been made into television films for the A&E network

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Review:

Some of Robert B. Parker's most distinctive novels over the years (God Save the Child, Early Autumn, Ceremony, etc.) have centered on young people in trouble, so his return to that theme in Melancholy Baby is hardly a surprise. What's more remarkable is how deftly he uses the case of an angry, confused college student searching for the facts about her family background as a means to pry open the hardly less troubled psyche of Boston private eye Sonya "Sunny" Randall, a character at serious risk of one day outshining Parker's better-known but less reflective gumshoe, Spenser.

Twenty-one-year-old trust-fund kid Sarah Markham suspects that her parents aren't really related to her at all. "They can't find my birth certificate," she tells Sunny in amazement. "They don’t remember which hospital I was born in." This isn't the sort of inquiry Sunny likes to take on, especially not now, when her ex-husband of five years, Richie Burke--whom she still hasn't given up loving--is marrying another woman. However, Sunny needs a distraction from self-pity, and she can see that "everything about Sarah and her parents seemed fraudulent ... like something that had been built on the cheap, with shoddy materials and no craft, to conceal something unhealthy and mean." As she tears at this façade, though, traveling to Illinois and New York City in order to expose secrets not only in Sarah's father's past but in the history of a holier-than-thou radio celeb, Sunny discovers that her client isn't the only person being kept in the dark. But is it worth destroying Sarah's sense of herself--not to mention attracting the malicious notice of well-armed thugs--to set the record straight? And can Sunny even accomplish this, while struggling (with help from Spenser's psychiatrist girlfriend, Susan Silverman) to understand why she's 37 years old and "just can’t be married"?

Any halfway-conscious reader will spot the solution to this story's mystery from miles off, and Parker's use of central-casting figures--the hypocritical moralizer, the oleaginous but natty shyster--should earn him free admission to a "How to Create Credible Characters" seminar. Still, it's hard not to be charmed by a novel that's as willing as Melancholy Baby is to knock the pins out from under its protagonist, and see where the angst falls. At Dr. Silverman's rates, Sunny had better figure her life out soon. --J. Kingston Pierce

About the Author:

Robert B Parker is the bestselling author of more than forty-one books and the creator of the Sunny Randall character. He has recently been made Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America.

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