Melancholy Baby: A Sunny Randall Novel, by Robert B. Parker ISBN 0786269499
Four our of five stars
Sunny’s disposition is in direct contradiction to her nickname. After initiating her divorce from Richie, Sunny has gone on to have sexual activity with other men and she is aware that Richie was seeing other women. That was acceptable to her, in some way Richie remained a fallback position as she partially went on with he life.
However, when Richie gets remarried, it sends her into a major funk, she is unable to handle the news and consults a psychiatrist, the talented Susan Silverman of the Spenser stories. When college student Sarah Markham comes to Sunny and asks her to investigate whether her supposed parents are really her birth parents the case quickly descends into the bizarre.
Neither of her “parents” are willing to submit to DNA testing and they have no visible means of support, the father claims that he manages their investments and that he is very good at it. Sarah also receives monthly payments from a trust fund supposedly set up by her deceased grandfather.
Sunny is forced to navigate through her unresolved issues with Richie, deal with a young woman with identity issues and opposing forces that rapidly ratchet up the opposition from simply roughing up a bit to outright murder. Being who she is, Sunny sticks hard to the case and eventually exposes the person behind the deception and conflict. As is the case with the Sunny Randall novels, she once again relies on the strong men in her life when things get difficult. Her father, Spike and Richie’s mobster family.
Sunny Randall is the weakest of the main Parker characters, both in development and in navigating her world. This is meant to be a mystery, yet the reader is exposed to her unresolved conflicts, including between her parents and siblings. The real point of interest is the odd circumstances of Sarah Markham’s existence and why everyone is behaving so oddly. That is where the action should be.