Shrink Rap (Sunny Randall Series #3)

Shrink Rap (Sunny Randall Series #3)

4.2 40
by Robert B. Parker
     
 

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Boston P.I. Sunny Randall goes on the road to protect a bestselling author—and uncovers a world of dark secrets—in the new novel by the Grand Master.

Melanie Joan Hall is a bestselling author in a bind. Her publisher needs her to tour on behalf of her latest blockbuster, and Melanie Joan needs a bodyguard-cum-escort to protect her from an…  See more details below

Overview

Boston P.I. Sunny Randall goes on the road to protect a bestselling author—and uncovers a world of dark secrets—in the new novel by the Grand Master.

Melanie Joan Hall is a bestselling author in a bind. Her publisher needs her to tour on behalf of her latest blockbuster, and Melanie Joan needs a bodyguard-cum-escort to protect her from an overbearing ex-husband whose presence unnerves her to the point of hysteria. Sunny’s cool demeanor, cop background, and P.I. smarts are an instant balm for the older woman. Sunny begins to sense that Melanie Joan’s ex—a psychotherapist—is not your basic stalker, and when an incident at a book signing leaves the ex bloodied and the author unconscious, it’s clear the stakes are high. Having decided that the only way to crack the case is from the inside, Sunny enters therapy, only to discover some disturbing truths about herself . . . while putting her life on the line.
 
Gripping, nuanced, and filled with Parker’s signature dialogue and psychological insight, Shrink Rap is a winner.

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Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
The third outing for Robert B. Parker's female private eye, Sunny Randall, is indeed a charm -- provided your idea of charm is a three-dimensional heroine, expertly barbed dialogue, shrewdly sculpted suspense, and some lightly tossed jabs at the publishing world. Sunny -- a cross between the author's two other series protagonists, the wisecracking P.I. Spenser (Widow's Walk) and the somber police chief Jesse Stone (Death in Paradise) -- is hired to protect bestselling romance author Melanie Joan Hall from her domineering ex-husband during a national book tour. When Sunny investigates Mr. Wrong -- prominent psychiatrist Dr. John Melvin -- and learns he may be molesting several of his female clients, she goes undercover as a patient. It's a risky move; as she discovers, Melvin's manipulative analytical skills hold a powerful sway, especially where the unresolved relationship with her own ex-husband, Richie, is concerned. The thoughtful and intense "shrink rap" here between Sunny and the two sounding boards -- Melvin and Hall -- is put to excellent use as Sunny's lifestyle and personal family life is explored from the inside out. As usual, Parker manages to balance suspense and violence with keen psychological acumen. Powered by an intense character portrait that will leave the reader enlightened and moved, and a humorous milieu that deftly undercuts the serious nature of the novel's themes, Parker turns in another cunningly crafted story that transcends the standard P.I. fare and strikes an unforgettable, resonant chord. Tom Piccirilli
People
This 37th mystery from Parker zips by more quickly than a 50-minute hour on the couch.
Publishers Weekly
As if responding to his new status as an MWA Grand Master, Parker turns in his strongest mystery in years with Boston PI Sunny Randall's third outing (after Family Honor and Perish Twice), a particular relief after this spring's flaccid Spenser offering, Widow's Walk. The setup lacks originality Sunny is hired to bodyguard a bestselling author, Melanie Joan Hall, who pens "high-end bodice rippers," just as years ago in Stardust, Spenser was hired to bodyguard a famous TV newscaster but by focusing on an author's plight during her book tour, Parker writes about experiences close to his own, delivering sharp portraits of publishing types and fans. Melanie Joan's former husband, John Melvin, a psychopathic psychiatrist, is stalking her. To learn about and discredit him, Sunny consults another psychiatrist, then enters incognito into therapy with Melvin, which adds tremendous resonance to the narrative as, inadvertently, she must confront her own neuroses during sessions, complexes involving her relationships with her parents and estranged husband. Soon Sunny sniffs out that Melvin has been raping and, occasionally, killing members of his all-female clientele by injecting them with a date rape drug. To nab Melvin, she submits to his using the drug on her, in an intense finale. With layers of psychological revelation, plenty of action, the welcome return of Sunny's supporting crew (most notably Spike, a gay counterpart to Spenser's Hawk) and, as usual, prose as tight as a drumhead, this is grade-A Parker. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Mystery Grand Master Parker delivers another fun read in his third Sunny Randall novel (after Perish Twice and Family Honor). Romance novelist Melanie Joan Hall needs help. She is about to start a book tour but is frightened of her ex-husband, psychiatrist John Melvin, who is stalking her. P.I. Sunny Randall, also divorced and with her own problems never far from her mind, is hired to be her bodyguard. Melvin's clients are all wealthy women, and no one wants to talk about what he does with them, not even when two wind up dead under suspicious circumstances. To find out what Melvin's up to, Sunny disguises herself and becomes his patient, putting herself in harm's way while probing the secret recesses of her own psyche. This is a novel of sly wit (evident also in the title), heavy on dialog and short on descriptive or narrative prose. But the effect is to hurtle the reader toward the climax, with a fine sense of ever-increasing danger. Fans will enjoy the crisp dialog, Sunny's investigations of her mind, and the matching of wits with a truly frightening villain. Highly recommended for all mystery collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/02.] Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Not even a first printing of 750,000 and a ten-city tour can protect romance novelist Melanie Joan Hall from John Melvin, MD, the ex-husband who's stalking her, harassing her at a signing in Cleveland and leaving bloody smears on a window in Cincinnati. But money and her publisher's solicitude for a $10-million property about to become a movie franchise can buy Melanie Joan some quality time with Sunny Randall, despite Sunny's insistence that "I'm not really suited to bodyguard anyway. I'm a detective." Well, maybe, but she actually thinks like a proactive avenger. When the women return to Boston, Sunny decides that it's not enough to protect her client from a menace that could go on forever; she needs to dig up something on Melvin, a psychiatrist whose practice seems limited to attractive women, that will put him away throughout Melanie Joan's peak earning years. Unfortunately, one of the good doctor's clients she approaches has just died; a second soon follows; and Melvin's male friends respond to Sunny's inquiries-framed in Parker's trademark killer dialogue-by sending her threatening photos and painting her windshield black. The only way to get the goods on Melvin is to stake herself out as bait; but Sunny, who let men do the heavy lifting for her in Perish Twice (2000), frets endlessly whether she should accept help from her own ex, mobbed-up Richie Burke, on this dangerous assignment. Despite Sandy's profession, none of her adventures has been marketed as a mystery. Good thinking. File her third under self-help.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101214688
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/30/2003
Series:
Sunny Randall Series , #3
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
37,630
File size:
736 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

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Read an Excerpt

I ALWAYS LOVED Richie's hands. They looked like such man's hands. I knew that I was guilty of gross gender stereotyping, but I kept my mouth shut about it, and no one knew. His hands rested on the table between us, the right one on top of the left. They were still. Richie was always still. It was one of the things that had made it hard to be married to him. I knew intellectually that he loved me, but he was so contained and interior that I used to crave even the most unseemly display of feeling. He was still now, sitting across the table from me, telling me he'd met someone else. We were divorced. It was fine for him to see other people. I saw other people too. But this was a somebody else he'd met. This was more than seeing other people. This made me feel like my center had collapsed.

"Somebody, like walk into the sunset?" I said.

"She wants to get married," Richie said. "She has a right to that."

"And you?"

Richie shrugged. "I'm thinking about it."

"Three kids and a house in the western suburbs?"

"We haven't talked about that," Richie said.

"What about Rosie?" I said.

"She likes dogs."

I looked at the hamburger I had ordered. I didn't want it.

"Rosie would still want to visit," I said.

"I love Rosie," Richie said.

"Has Ms. Right met her?" I said.

"Yes."

"They get along?"

"Very well," Richie said. "Rosie loves her."

She does not.

"Rosie will remain my dog," I said.

Richie smiled at me. "We're not going to have a custody fight over a goddamn bull terrier, are we?"

"Not as long as we remember she's mine."

"She's ours," Richie said.

"But not hers."

"No. Mine and yours," Richie said. "She lives with you and visits me."

I nodded. Richie was quiet.

"How long have you been seeing Ms. Right?" I said.

"About three months."

"Three months."

Richie nodded.

"You're sleeping with her," I said.

"Of course."

"Do you love Ms. Right?" I said.

"Her name is Carrie."

"Do you love Carrie?"

"I don't know."

"And how are you going to find out?" I said.

"I don't know."

Richie had ordered a club sandwich, on whole wheat, toasted. He hadn't eaten any of it. The waitress stopped at our table.

"Is everything all right?" she said.

"Fine," Richie said.

"Can I get you anything else?"

"No," Richie said. "Check will be fine."

"Do you want me to have your food wrapped?" the waitress said.

"No thank you," Richie said.

The waitress looked at me. I shook my head. She put a check on the table and went away looking regretful. Richie and I looked at each other.

"Whaddya think?" he said.

I shook my head.

"I know," Richie said.

He looked at the check and took some bills out of his wallet and put them on the table.

"The thing is," he said, "I can't get past you."

"Oh?"

"I mean, we're sort of spinning our wheels."

"You could call it that," I said.

"I mean this is a nice woman, and she's happy with who and what I am."

I nodded.

"But I can't get past you," Richie said.

"I face somewhat the same problem," I said.

"We need some kind of resolution, Sunny."

"I thought the divorce was supposed to be some kind of resolution," I said.

Richie smiled quietly. "I did too," he said.

"But it wasn't," I said.

"No. It wasn't."

"So what are we supposed to do?" I said.

"I'm serious about this woman."

I nodded. It was difficult for me to speak. The room around me seemed insubstantial, as if I were drifting in space.

"But," he said, "I can't imagine a life without you in it."

"So," I said. "What the hell is this, a warning that you're going to try?"

"I guess it is," Richie said.

The room was nearly empty. There was only one other table occupied, by three people calmly having lunch. The waitress stayed away from us. Discreet. I looked at the money that Richie had stacked neatly on top of the bill.

"I miss Rosie," Richie said.

"She misses you."

I was quiet. Richie was perfectly still, his hands folded motionless on the table. We were so silent that I was aware of his breathing across the table.

"Are we really talking about the dog here?" Richie said.

"No," I said, "we goddamned sure are not."

—from Shrink Rap by Robert Parker, Copyright © September 2002, Putnam Pub Group, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

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Meet the Author

Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books. He died in January 2010.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 17, 1932
Date of Death:
January 18, 2010
Place of Birth:
Springfield, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Education:
B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971
Website:
http://robertbparker.net/

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