I enjoyed this novel for what’s on the page, for Mike Lupica’s story and characterisation, honestly not worrying too much about its link to the original Parker novels, but let’s deal with that first. I’m always sceptical of authors taking on the mantle of another, sadly deceased, writer. In this case Lupica, a friend of Robert B Parker who died in 2010, brings PI Sunny Randall back for a new adventure. Parker was a giant of the crime fiction world and one hell of a writer, and Randall, sassy and smart, became a much loved character in her own right, (big shoes to fill). Lupica does more than enough to give the reader a feel for the Boston setting and cast of characters that Parker created, a sense of the colloquial dialogue and the mafia underworld Sunny Randall dives into. There are plenty of shades of Parker’s humour and keen observation here. So once again the estate of Parker have picked an appropriate author to carry on his legacy, others include Ace Atkins (Spenser), Reed Farrel Coleman (Jesse Stone).
For the reader looking for a fast paced entertaining crime story the important thing is that Lupica is a skilful plotter, this simple tale of rivalry and revenge has style and nuance, a few key twists and a poetic ending. It has the quality of floating in its own timeline. Sunny Randall is tough and perceptive, she has a way of cutting thought the mob bullshit, but this is set to get personal, nasty and deadly.
Boston, Spike’s Place, Sunday, before opening. Sunny is having one of those crisis of confidence that comes from a little introspection, (am I looking older, fatter?), that goes with not having a client. Spike won’t let her wallow, he doesn’t want to get into that whole ‘biological clock’ thing:
‘It makes you sound so straight.’
‘Pretty sure I am, last time I checked.’’
‘Well,’ Spike said sighing theatrically. ‘You don’t have to make a thing of it.’
Sunny is seeing her ex-husband, Richie Burke, again and although she’s not likely to accept a wedding rematch any time soon it’s going pretty well. Of course, his Irish mafia family is a downside but. . . She walks away when the customers start arriving, an afternoon of painting and listening to jazz, a glass of white wine or two. It’s 2am when Richie’s uncle Felix rings to say he’s in Massachusetts General he was jumped outside the saloon, ‘Shot. But alive.’ What was Richie doing at his saloon in the early hours of a Monday morning? Luckily it was a through and through that hurts like hell but will heal with time. When Richie comes round he says the last thing the shooter said was; ‘Sins of the Father’, before fleeing the scene. Richie’s dad swears there’s nothing going down in the family that would have warranted this. Sure, Desmond Burke is Irish mafia to the core, an old pal of Whitey Bulger in the day, but Richie was always seen as a neutral, a non-target, outside ‘the life’. No doubt Desmond is going to be doing his own investigating, looking to spill blood, but this is her turf now. Richie tries to get Sunny to leave it alone but sans payment he is still her client as well as her lover. So what’s the beef? Girls, a particular girl, guns, rackets, old rivalries resurfacing, maybe it’s nothing to do with the rackets. One thing’s for sure this bunch of old gangsters and new guys on the block aren’t going to be forthcoming with answers. Sunny starts with local hood Tony Marcus, then there’s the Italians, Eddie Lee in Chinatown, and the out of towners. Things soon escalate, a second hit, single shot to the back of the head execution style, is someone out to take down the Burke clan? Sunny is soon directly in the firing line.
A decent hard boiled novel – sharp, witty and page turning.
Paul Burke – Personal read 3.5*, not a group read.
Robert B Parker’s Blood Feud by Mike Lupica.
9780857303820 Oldcastle No Exit Press Paperback March 2020