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Blood Feud by Mike Lupica

Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on November 27, 2018

Mike Lupica wrote Robert B. Parker’s Blood Feud so it really isn’t Robert B. Parker’s, although Parker created the key characters before he died. The Robert B. Parker factory has assembled a bunch of novels this year. Lupika is a capable techniian, but Blood Feud comes across as an assembly line product.

Someone shot Richie Burke, Sunny Randall’s separated-with-benefits husband. The shooter apparently wanted to send a message to Richie’s mobster father. Sunny has been brooding about her need for a distraction from loneliness and the attempted murder gives her something to do, so she spends a few chapters talking to her cop father and dangerous friends about Boston’s colorful gangsters.

Eventually Richie’s other relatives are attacked. Is this an escalation of a gang war involving Richie’s father or something more personal? Sunny considers the possibilities over martinis with her friend Spike, shots of Jameson with Richie, and coffee with the cops. Eventually the murders are solved and there is a mild twist at the end. In other words, the factory followed the formula for a crime novel with all the parts welded together just a little too neatly.

Blood Feud is entertaining because of the characters that Parker created and the snappy dialog that Lupica gives them. The plot is a pleasant vehicle to contain the characters but it offers little in the way of drama and builds no tension. Maybe that isn’t required in a book that is probably meant to keep characters alive without altering them in ways that a series fan might dislike. The novel has no glaring faults, but it is also devoid of obvious strengths, such as a compelling plot or an insightful examination of challenges that characters must overcome. It has the feel of a novel assembled by a writer who didn’t really have his heart in it.

Reader reviews of Blood Feud will inevitably appear on Amazon complaining that some of the characters have a negative opinion of Donald Trump and that Sunny isn’t in love with guns (although Sunny carries a gun and her only gripe is that unregistered guns end up in the hand of criminals and nutcases). If you can’t stomach characters who disagree with your political views, and if you are pro-Trump, you might want to give Blood Feud and a good many other books a pass. Most readers, I suspect, will be undisturbed by the small amount of political commentary in which characters indulge.

Politics aside, you might want to give Blood Feud a pass unless you are a fan of the series and miss the characters. It is a lightweight, easy-to-read thriller, but there are better crime novels to stack up on your nightstand. There is just too little reason to choose this one over all it competitors.


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