MELANCHOLY BABY is the fourth novel to feature Sunny Randall, and
some of Robert B. Parker's best work is contained within these
The plot is classic Parker, with Randall being retained by a young
woman named Sarah Markham, who is convinced that her parents are
not really her parents. Markham is, by anyone's definition, a
difficult person, choosing --- at least initially --- to define her
individuality by the degree of her obnoxiousness. Randall quickly
determines, however, that all is not right in the Markham
When a couple of thugs rough up Markham and warn her against
pursuing her background, Randall's reaction is to dig even deeper.
Two unexpected murders then occur. They could be merely
coincidental, yet they appear to be linked to Randall's
investigation. Randall's friend Spike is there to help, as is her
dad, with his ex-cop instincts and life experience. Richie Burke,
Randall's ex-husband, is also there to assist. Randall's personal
conundrum is that she loves Burke, but she can't live with him, or
anyone. This leads to a situation that forms the undercurrent on
which MELANCHOLY BABY flows and is by no means resolved by the end
of the novel.
Parker is breaking down the barriers that exist between his
characters. Jesse Stone has made an appearance in Spenser's
continuum, and in MELANCHOLY BABY another character of Parker's ---
who becomes integral to the story --- shows up in Randall's world.
Parker also introduces a new character, New York City Police
Detective 2nd Grade Eugene Corsetti. It would be fun to see
Corsetti in his own series, though he works just fine here as a
supporting character. What is most important, however, is that
Parker, at a time when he could be resting on his laurels,
continues --- impossible as it may seem --- to surpass himself.
This is a man who still has many intriguing tales left to
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 7, 2011