Sunny Randall is "on" again with Richie, the ex-husband she never stopped loving and never seemed to be able to let go, despite her discomfort with his Mafia connections. When Richie is shot and nearly killed, Sunny is dragged into the thick of his family's business as she searches for answers and tries to stave off a mob war. But as the bullets start flying in Boston's mean streets, Sunny finds herself targeted by the deranged mastermind of the plot against the Burke family, whose motive may be far more personal than she could have anticipated...
About the Author
Kate Burton has appeared in such films as August and Life with Mikey. Her theater work includes Broadway appearances in Doonesbury and the revival of Stephen Sondhein's Company. She has previously read Running with the Demon, Crooked Little Heart, and Intensity for Random House AudioBooks.
Read an Excerpt
I said to Spike, "Do I look as if I'm getting older?"
"This is some kind of trap," he said.
"I'm being serious," I said. "The UPS kid ma'amed me the other day."
"I assume you shot him," Spike said.
"No," I said. "But I thought about it."
We were seated at one of the middle tables in the front room at his restaurant, Spike's, formerly known as Spike's Place, on Marshall Street near Quincy Market. It had started out as a sawdust-on-the-floor saloon, before there even was a Quincy Market. It was still a comedy club when Spike and two partners took it over. Then Spike bought out the two partners, reimagined the place as an upscale dining establishment-"Complete with flora and fauna," as he liked to say-and now he was making more money than he ever had in his life.
It was an hour or so before he would open the door for what was usually a robust Sunday brunch crowd. We were both working on Bloody Marys even though it was only ten-thirty in the morning, being free, well past twenty-one, and willing to throw caution to the wind.
Spike took a bite of the celery stalk from his drink. I knew he was doing that only to buy time.
"Would you mind repeating the question?" he said.
"You heard me."
"I believe," he said, "that what you've asked is the age equivalent of asking if I think you look fat in those jeans."
I looked down at my favorite pair of Seven whites. Actually, I had no way of knowing if they were my favorites, since I had four pairs in my closet exactly like them. When any one of them started to feel too tight, I doubled down on yoga and gym time, and cut back on the wine.
"You're saying I'm fat, too?" I said.
"You know I'm not," he said. "And in answer to the original question, you always look younger than springtime to me."
"You're sweet," I said.
"That's what all the girls say. But, sadly, only about half the guys."
Spike was big, bearded, built like a bear that did a lot of gym time, and able to beat up the Back Bay if necessary. He was also gay, and my best friend in the world.
"Only half?" I said.
"I'm the one who's getting old, sweetie," he said. "And probably starting to look fat in my own skinny-ass jeans."
My miniature English bull terrier, Rosie, was lounging on the floor in the puppy bed that Spike kept for her behind the bar, thinking food might be available at any moment, the way it usually was at Spike's. Spike called her Rosie Two. The original Rosie, the love of my life, had passed away the previous spring, far too soon. My father had always said that dogs were one of the few things that God got wrong, that they were the ones who ought to be able to live forever.
I'd asked Spike not to call her Rosie Two, telling him that it affected a girl's self-esteem.
"I love you," he'd say, "and by extension, that means I love your dog. But she's still a goddamn dog."
At which point I would shush him and tell him that now he was just being mean.
There was a sharp rap on the front window. Rosie immediately jumped to attention, growling, her default mechanism for strangers. There was a young couple peering in at us, the guy prettier than the woman he was with. They looked like J and Crew. Spike smiled brilliantly at them, pointed at his watch, shook his head. They moved on, their blondness intact.
"Where were we?" Spike said.
"Discussing my advancing age."
"We're not going to have one of those dreary conversations about your biological clock, are we?" he said. He trained his smile on me now. "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."
"You make it sound like we have these conversations all the time," I said.
"More lately now that you and your ex have started up again, or started over again, or whatever the hell it is you two are doing."
My ex-husband was Richie Burke, and had long since turned Kathryn Burke into his second ex-wife. He'd finally admitted to her that he not only had never gotten over me, he likely never would.
At the time Spike said it was shocking, Kathryn being a bad sport about something like that, and racing him to see who could file for divorce first.
Now Richie and I were dating, as much as I thought it was stupid to think of it that way. But "seeing each other" sounded even worse. When we did spend a night together, something we never did more than once a week, we always slept at my new apartment on River Street Place so I didn't have to get a sitter for Rosie. So far there had been hardly any talk about the two of us moving back in together, something I wasn't sure could ever happen again. It wasn't because of Richie. It was because of me.
The one time Richie had asked if I could ever see the two of us married again, I told him I'd rather run my hand through Trump's hair.
"I keep thinking that maybe this time you two crazy kids could live happily ever after," Spike said.
"I'm no good at either one," I said. "Happy. Or ever after."
"I thought you said you were happy with the way things were going?" Spike said.
"Not so much lately."
"Well, shitfuck," he said.
"It's something an old baseball manager used to say," he said.
Spike was obsessed with baseball in general and the Boston Red Sox in particular. He frequently reminded me of the old line that in Boston the Red Sox weren't a matter of life and death, because they were far more serious than that.
"You know baseball bores the hell out of me," I said.
"I can't believe they even allow you to live here," Spike said.
We both sipped our drinks, which were merely perfect. I used to tell friends all the time that they could call off the search for the best Bloody Mary on the planet once they got to Spike's.
"What's bothering you, really?" Spike said. "You only have to look in the mirror to see how beautiful you still are. And having been in the gym with you as often as I have, we both know you're as fit as a Navy SEAL."
"Remember when Richie told me it was officially over with Kathryn? He said it was because he wanted it all. And that 'all' meant me."
"But the problem," I continued, "is that I'm no better at figuring out what that means to me than I was when we were married. Or apart." I sighed. "Shitfuck," I said.
"You sound like the dog that caught the car," Spike said.
I smiled at him. "That's me," I said. "An old dog."
"I give up," he said.
"What you need to do is open up," I said, "and send me and my gorgeous dog politely and firmly on our way."
"You could stay for lunch," Spike said.
"And have Rosie scare off the decent people? Who needs that?"
"What you need," Spike said, "is a case. A private detective without clients is, like, what? Help me out here."
"You without a cute guy in your life?"
"Some of us don't need men to complete us," he said.
We both laughed and stood up. I kissed him on the cheek.
"Go home and paint," he said. "We both know that is something that actually does complete you. Then get up tomorrow and somehow find a way to get yourself a client."
"What if the phone doesn't ring?" I said.
Spike said, "It always has."
I'd loved the waterfront loft in Fort Point that I'd shared with the original Rosie.
I'd loved the light it gave me to paint in the late afternoon, when I felt as if I usually did my best work. I'd loved that it was completely mine after Richie and I broke up, and even remained mine after some very bad and very dangerous men had done their best to ruin it when I was once protecting a runaway girl. Mine and the original Rosie's, before and after the repairs. Ours.
But once Rosie died, there were simply too many memories for me to endure staying there. There was no place for me to turn without expecting to see her. She was supposed to be in the small bed next to where I painted, or sleeping at the foot of my real bed, or on the couch in the living room, or waiting at the door when Richie would come to get her for a weekend, back when the two of us shared custody of her.
So I'd moved, to a town house at the end of River Street, parallel to Charles, at the foot of Beacon Hill, a couple of blocks from the Public Garden and Boston Common, around the corner from the old Charles Street Meeting House. It was owned by my friend Melanie Joan Hall, an author for whom I'd once served as a bodyguard on a book tour, and then saved from a stalker who happened to be one of her ex-husbands.
Melanie Joan had bought the place not long after all that, falling in love with it the way she so frequently fell in and out of love with men. But now she had remarried again, to a Hollywood producer, and had moved Out There. When I'd mentioned the new Rosie and I were moving, she'd insisted that we make River Street Place our new home. At first she wanted to let me have it rent-free. I insisted that I couldn't do that. We'd finally agreed on a rent that was ridiculously low for the area, she'd put a lot of her stuff into storage, Rosie and I had moved in, with a lot of my stuff, but not all.
There were four floors. The place had been built in the nineteenth century, and legend had it that back then ship sails had been woven in the loft next door. It was all kind of funky and wonderful, built like an old railroad flat, not one of the floors more than twenty feet wide. Living room and kitchen on the first floor, master bedroom on the second, guest room on the third. The fourth floor became my art studio. I still thought of it all as Melanie Joan's house, as if it were a halfway house before I would find something more permanent eventually. But Rosie and I were still doing the best to make it ours. For now we were content, if in an impermanent way, in our twenty-by-fifteen rooms, and it was doing both of us just fine, Rosie more than me. As long as I was around, she didn't care if we lived in a shoe.
In the late afternoon she slept in a bed near the table where I was painting the small stone cottage Richie and I had come upon in the Concord woods last fall, when we had gone hiking up there. It was at the far end of a huge piece of property that belonged to a high school friend of Richie's who had gotten extremely wealthy in the real estate business.
"He's always telling me that there's a Thoreau inside me waiting to bust out," Richie said that day.
I told him that knowing what I knew about my city-boy ex-husband, busting out of a prison would be easier.
Richie's friend had told him about the cottage, which he said had been originally built in the early part of the twentieth century by a writer whose name Richie couldn't remember, and had gone empty for years. But I thought it was perfect, the masonry still beautiful, the place framed by autumn leaves and birch trees, and, beyond that, sky and God.
I had snapped some photographs with my iPhone but hadn't gotten around to finally painting the cottage until a month ago. I was still going slowly with it, still experimenting with which colors I wanted to dominate the background and which ones I wanted to mute, how dark I wanted the gray of the cottage to be setting off the leaves around it, how much contrast I needed between the stones of the cottage and the lone stone wall in front.
For the next few hours, I existed only in that world, trying to imagine what it must have been like to live in those woods nearly a hundred years ago, lost in the satisfied feeling of the work finally coming together, the shapes and color and proportion almost assembling themselves, as if exploring all of their own possibilities.
Over the years I had managed to sell a fair amount of my paintings. But it had never felt like a job to me, or work. It was nothing I would ever say out loud, not to Spike or to Richie or to anyone, but it was about the art in me. It had always been about the joy the feeling of a brush in my hand and then on the paper had always brought to me once I had gone back to working with watercolors.
There was also the sense of clarity and purpose it gave me, a completeness that my real job had never brought to my life, or my marriage.
"Rosie," I said when I finally put down my brush, pleased with the work I had done today, "why can't the whole world be like this?"
Rosie raised her head. Sometimes I thought that whatever I said to her always sounded the same, as if I were asking her if she wanted a treat.
I cleaned my brushes, put them away, took one last look at what I'd accomplished today. And smiled.
"Sunny Randall," I said, "you may be getting older. But this is one goddamn area where you're getting better."
I showered, changed into a T-shirt and new skinny denims, rewarded myself for a good day's work with a generous pour of pinot grigio. Then I inserted one of my favorite jazz CDs into Melanie Joan's player, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk at Carnegie Hall.
It occurred to me that I hadn't thought about dinner until just now. It was, I decided, a good thing. Spike said another marker for getting older was when you started thinking about what you wanted to have for dinner as soon as you finished lunch.
"Once you're doing that," he said, "the next stop is the home."
Excerpted from "Robert B. Parker's Blood Feud"
Copyright © 2018 Mike Lupica.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Storyline was good, love Sunny's relationship with her ex and his family. Could have done without the snarky MAGA comment and the soapboxing on the 2nd Amendment. Looks like authors are going to be like tv scriptwriters, and weave their liberal political agenda into their work. Sad. Because I like the character, will give the next book a chance.
With all the authors approved by the Parker estate trying to write/sound like R.B.Parker it becomes a treat with a few knocks along for the ride. This one is slow and the BOSTON clipped dialog just a bit too much. Toss in the politcal BS and it falls flat. The Sunny Randall Series was never a fave and that may have been a part of the 3 stars.
Longtime Robert B Parker fan here and I was very happy to see that the Parker Estate has decided to give Mr Lupica a shot with Sunny Randal. For me, any chance to catch up with any of my dear old friends (Parker's Characters) is a welcome occasion. I think Lupica has a pretty good take on Randall and intersecting Spenserverse characters. While the story did plod along a bit, getting by on dialog and relationships, that not a problem for and I don't view this as the first book featuring Parker Characters guilty of that particular sin. Now about the perceived Trump hating, liberal pontificating, politically biased blathering. Yes, it was a very real part of the book. However, given that the World of Parker et al occurs nearly exclusively in Boston, it might be foreseeable. I'd rather it not be a significant part of my reading for enjoyment, but it hardly gets my panties in a bunch.... that would chafe. Ultimately, I found it easily worth the retail price and will purchase subsequent attempts.
Tried to throw in every character ever invented in a RB Parker book series and the political comments/anti-Trump lines were unnecessary. The Deplorables read RB Parker too.
I do like the character, Sunny Randall. However, I did not like this book, Blood Feud. Too much failed attempts at witty conversations over drinks. Not very much action, mostly drinking while theorizing and what could be going on. One liners were outdated and not funny. Though always happy to see one of Robert B Parker's characters in a new book, this one was boring.
Very disappointed in this book. I so looked forward to another Sunny Randall book, but all the irrelevant and undisguised political rhetoric ruined the story. What a shame.
Of all the main characters in the late Robert B. Parker's books - among them Spenser, Jesse Stone and Susan Silverman - I'd have to say Sunny Randall has been my least favorite (although I suspect that's mostly because I wasn't happy back when she had a fling with Jesse). After reading this one, though, I've moved her up several notches. I'll chalk that up to the writing skill of the author, who was chosen by the Parker estate to bring this character back to life in this, the seventh book in the series. In many ways, I was reminded of the original as written by Parker; the above-mentioned characters and a few other old familiars appear here, either by reference to past interactions (e.g., Jesse) or in person (Susan is Sunny's therapist). And the action and dialog are, for the most part, reminiscent of Parker as well. It is in the ways that aren't quite the same, I think, that make me like this Sunny better. I really can't explain it, but while the author has done a good job with keeping Parker's style alive and well, the subtle differences make Sunny his own. That may be a plus or minus depending on who's doing the reading, but count me among those who are very happy with the result. As this one begins, Susan and her ex-husband Richie Burke - the son of longtime mobster Dominick Burke - have reconciled of sorts; they're getting together now and again (if you get my drift), but Sunny isn't convinced she wants to renew a more permanent relationship. In fact, she commented that she'd "rather run my hand through Trump's hair" than get married again (that line alone won me over on the spot). One night, Sunny is called with the devastating news that Richie has been shot; he's alive, but it appears that was by the shooter's intent - perhaps to send a message to his mob family. Not long thereafter, Richie's uncle - the youngest of the three Burke brothers - is shot, this time fatally. Someone, it appears, may be nursing a big-time grudge against the Burke dynasty. But mobsters don't share their secrets, not even with their own children (and certainly not with their children's ex-wives). To get to the bottom of things, then, Sunny has to do some serious investigation into family history - a process virtually guaranteed to threaten already tenuous relationships and maybe even get somebody else killed. Of course, I can't reveal the ending. But I do have a verdict: Five thumbs up. And I have one other thing - a wish that the next one won't be long coming.
It;s been a long time since we have seen Sunny Randall but Blood Feud has been worth the wait. The characters are all there, the style is Parker's and Mr. Lupica has done a great job with bringing Sunny back for us readers who have missed her in the last 11 years. Am looking forward to the next one and hopefully there will be many more in the series. A good choice by the Parker's to let Mr. Lupica take a shot at Sunny. Take a look at this book. I don't think you will be disappointed, I certainly wasn't.
“Blood Feud” by Mike Lupica reintroduces readers to Sunny Randall, Robert B. Parker’s PI last seen in “Spare Change.” A few things have changed; she moved; she got a new dog, and she is a little older. “Do I look as if I’m getting older?” “This is some kind of trap,” he said. “I’m being serious,” I said. “The UPS kid ma’amed me the other day.” However, most things remain the same. “I assume you shot him,” Spike said. “No,” I said. “But I thought about it.” In a first person narrative, readers find Randall still in a turbulent on-again off-again relationship with her ex-husband Richie Burke, despite his “unfortunate” crime mob family connections. When Burke is shot, Randall searches for answers and finds herself plunged into the middle of his family’s business. The situation becomes more personal that she expected. Lupica did a fine job of renewing the franchise and reacquainting readers with familiar characters after all the years. He also introduced a few new ones that advance and refresh the franchise. I received a review copy of “Blood Feud” from Mike Lupica, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Group, and NetGalley and found it very entertaining. Previous readers will feel right at home with the new series. New readers will easily jump into the franchise. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
It was good to go back and read a story about Sunny Randall, one of my favorite of Robert B. Parker's characters. I was happy to see that Sunny hasn't changed much, nor has Richie or Spike. Reading a book like this is a comfort. I am glad to see that the writing of the characters has been done well. It's the type of writing I expect when reading these books. I come here expecting comfort and I found it. I do not mean to imply that the story is a comforting one...far from it. Simply that these people are old friends of mine. This situation is a personal one for sure and keeps you questioning throughout. I love the flow of the story and the banter. I recommend this book to anyone who is familiar with Sunny, or anyone who is interested in getting to know a well worth reading about character. You will enjoy this book tremendously. This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher, for which I thank them.
Two things struck me as I read this book, one, Mr Lupica fails to follow RBP's prose, why to much descriptive nonsense and and not enough conversation between the characters. Two, leave your political bias out of your writing, RBP would never have done this and it was absolutely unnecessary and did nothing to enhance the story.
Oh Sunny Randall, how I have missed you! Mike Lupica stays true to Robert B. Parker's roots for Sunny in this tightly woven mystery involving Sunny, Richie, his family -- and of course, my favorites, Spike and Rosie. With glimpses of characters from other Parker books, this mystery is destined to be a fan favorite! One of my favorite books of the year! Thank you!
The new installment of Robert B. Parker’s Sunny Randall, the Boston based P.I. is a fantastic read. It left me more than grateful that the Parker estate selected Mike Lupica to continue the character that we all know and love. It is indeed a blood feud when somebody shoots your boyfriend/ex-husband, as is the case in the opening of this highly entertaining, pleasurable, witty and diverting novel. As we traverse the plot and story, we meet the characters that usually people the Parker novels. Vinny Morris, the gun for hire, Tony Marcus, the well-dressed purveyor of prostitutes, Frank Belson homicide cop extraordinaire, and Susan Silverman, PhD in Psychology and Spencer’s longtime girlfriend. Blood Feud is tremendous fun. Reading it is a pleasure that comes around all too rarely.
More trump and republican hating than plot.