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Melancholy Baby    by Robert B. Parker order for
Melancholy Baby
by Robert B. Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Parker fans have a real treat in store. Sunny Randall is devastated by ex-husband Richie's re-marriage (to a slender blonde who looks very like Sunny). She is referred by her retiring psychiatrist to another shrink - Susan Silverman, the love of Spenser's life! Will Sunny bump into Spenser in a future episode, or Hawk?

In between useful sessions with Susan, Sunny takes on the case of a college student, an awkward young woman, who insists (despite their denial) that the couple who raised her are not her biological parents. Sarah Markham is rude, thoroughly unpleasant, and hurting, reminiscent of the vulnerable characters that the early Spenser took on as clients. Sunny wonders why the Markhams refuse DNA testing, and follows the father's back trail to a radio job in Chicago. He crossed paths there with Lolly Drake, now a major celebrity, the 'moral standard-bearer of the airwaves'. Is she also 'Mommie dearest'? When Sunny's client is threatened and beaten, she takes Sarah in, and, as it always did with Spenser, a process of rehabilitation begins almost by osmosis. Sunny follows the goons' trail to the lawyers who hired them, one of whom turns out to be handsome. Unfortunately, there's no time to pursue the attraction as the bodies begin to pile up.

I enjoy Sunny's relationship with her bull terrier Rosie (she and Richie share custody), with her best friend, gay restaurant owner Spike, and with her dad. Sunny even banters with the bad guys - when they ask if she has the balls to shoot them, the answer is 'Balls, no, ... Shoot, yes.' The banter and advice usually makes for good sense as well as easy reading. My only problem with Melancholy Baby was the use of Uncle Felix as deus ex machina, to nail the bad gal - it made the resolution just too easy. But I'll still come back for more, and wonder, now that Sunny's getting her head back together, how will Parker eliminate Richie's new wife? Surely not Uncle Felix this time!

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