Robert B. Parker's newest fictional creation, Sunny Randall, is
hired to act as a bodyguard and driver for famous romance writer
Melanie Joan Hall during a book signing tour. Hall is being stalked
by her ex-husband, a psychoanalyst with a dangerous bedside manner,
but she refuses to divulge the reason for her fears. The menacing
doctor's appearance at each and every signing is turning Ms. Hall
into a hysterical wreck, even when surrounded by doting fans and
with Sunny close at hand.
In order to uncover Dr. Melvin's dark side, Sunny becomes a
patient. Even as she grows more and more suspicious of the doctor's
professional ethics, she finds herself reluctantly exploring her
own inner demons on the manipulative shrink's couch.
The story moves from the East coast tour to a Hollywood pitch
session to sell the book. As one of the all-time best-selling
Masters of Mystery, Parker's intimate knowledge of the publishing
and moviemaking world lends moments of humor to a skillfully
Sunny's creation begs the question: did Parker's star detective
Spenser and his willowy girlfriend Susan Silverman have a love
child? If they didn't, then Sunny Randall could pass for a close
relative. As snappy and sharp as Spenser in his springier years,
Sunny, daughter of a retired Boston cop who wore a badge herself
for a while, hunts down the bad guys with the same wit, elan, and
streetwise craft of one of the most famous private eyes in the
world. She comes complete with funny dog and burly sidekick, but
from a distinctly female point of view. Given Parker's proclivity
for macho detectives and sidekicks, his ability to switch to the
female point of view and voice is to be admired.
Dog lovers will fall for Rosie, the miniature English bull terrier
seen as beautiful by Sunny and her ex-husband Brian, who share
custody. Others are not so sure:
"A state police detective named Meyer came to call on me. I offered
coffee, he accepted, and we drank it at my dining nook in the bay
window of my loft. Rosie joined us.
'What the hell is that?' Meyer said.
'That's Rosie,' I said.
'Did you trap her?'
'Of course not.
'I got possums in my grape arbor,' Meyer said. 'She looks like one
If Parker weren't such a skilled writer, you might be tempted to
call Sunny derivative, as the pages fairly sizzle with action and
Parker's trademark illuminating and entertaining dialogue unfold.
As Sunny plumbs her psyche, it is there that you see that her
resemblance to Spenser lies primarily in her Boston locale.
In this page turner, the third in a series, SHRINK RAP fleshes out
Sunny Randall's already interesting character, first established in
PERISH TWICE and FAMILY HONOR. Sunny was created as a character for
development in collaboration with Parker's good friend, actress
Helen Hunt, but there are no blips to date on the usual radar
screens for movie or TV. The scenes in the Hollywood pitch sessions
give colorful insights into what can happen to a book-to-movie. Is
this a clue?
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 23, 2011