Extract Post: Grudge Match, by Robert B Parker

Pub. Date: 16 November 2020
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 978-0-85730-402-5
Binding: Paperback

Robert B. Parker’s beloved PI Sunny Randall returns on a case that blurs the line between friend and foe… and if Sunny can’t tell the difference, the consequences may be deadly.

When Sunny’s long-time gangster associate Tony Marcus comes to her for help, Sunny is surprised – after all, she double-crossed him on a recent deal, and their relationship is on shakier ground than ever.
But the way Tony figures it, Sunny owes him, and she is willing to consider his case if it will clear the slate.

Tony’s trusted girlfriend and business partner has vanished, appearing to have left in a hurry, and he has no idea why. He just wants to talk to her, he says. While Sunny isn’t willing to trust his good intentions, the missing woman intrigues her – against all odds, she’s risen to a position of power in
Tony’s criminal enterprise. Sunny can’t help but admire her and, if this woman’s in a jam, she would like to help.

But when a witness is murdered hours after speaking to Sunny, it’s clear there’s more at stake than just Tony’s love life. Someone – maybe even Tony himself – doesn’t want this woman on the loose…and will go to any lengths to make sure she stays silent.


‘Listen up while I explain to you how you hold a damn grudge, Sunny Randall,’ Tony Marcus said.

We were in his office at Buddy’s Fox. Tony’s two most trusted troopers, Junior and Ty Bop, had driven me over here like they were Uber drivers, but only if Uber were hiring shooters and thugs this week.

‘Tony wants to talk to you,’ Junior had said at my front door. ‘And before you say something smart, like you can’t never help yourself, it really ain’t a request.’

‘Fortunately, my schedule is wide open the rest of the afternoon,’ I said. ‘So you’re in luck.’

Junior had turned to Ty Bop then. ‘See that right there,’ he said. ‘She can’t never help herself.’

It occurred to me on the way to the South End that it was the most I’d ever heard Junior talk. He was as big as the Back Bay and usually just stood mute and scared the living shit out of you.

Now here we all were.
‘Should I take notes?’ I said to Tony.
He closed his eyes as he shook his head. I knew it wasn’t because he thought I was funny, even though we both knew I was.

‘What’s the expression you’d use for a girl, you wanted to tell her she has balls?’ he said.

‘That she’s got balls,’ I said.
‘Well, you still got some balls on you,’ Tony said.
‘Stop or you’ll make me blush,’ I said.
Junior and Ty Bop were on either side of the door that led out to the bar area at Buddy’s Fox. Ty Bop, who was Tony’s shooter, still looked as skinny as a hairpin and so jittery I was always surprised I couldn’t hear a faint hum coming off him, somewhat like a tuning fork. Junior, Tony’s body man for as long as I’d known them both, seemed to be staring out the window and perhaps all the way to Portugal.

As always, Tony Marcus brought the word bespoke to mind. He was wearing a light gray suit, the gray so light you could barely see the pinstripes in it, a matching gray shirt, and a maroon tie and a maroon pocket square. His palms were flat on the desk in front of him. I couldn’t help noticing his hands, and being more than somewhat jealous of his manicurist. In the constantly changing crime scene in Boston, Tony was somehow as powerful as he’d ever been, almost as if he were the beneficiary of crime-world gerrymandering. But he still played to and from his base, which had always been prostitution, in all its lousy and illegal forms.

‘I believe you were talking about grudges,’ I said.

‘Like the one we got going,’ he said, ‘since you jammed me up on that gun deal when I’d gone out of the way to help you save your former father-in-law’s sorry old ass.’

A few months ago I’d made a deal with Tony – he’d get a warehouse full of illegal guns in return for helping me save the life of Richie’s father, Desmond Burke. But I’d never had any intention of letting Tony put that many guns on the street, and instead had tipped the warehouse location to the FBI.

‘Most people,’ he said, ‘they think you got to act right away when somebody fucks you over the way you did me.’ He smiled. ‘Hell, that ain’t how you hold a grudge.’

I waited.

‘What you do is, you wait,’ Tony said. ‘And then you wait a little more, until maybe the other person don’t even remember how they did you in the first place. Then you find a way to settle accounts. And if they say, “Why’d you fuck me up like that?” you say, “See there, you forgot. We had a damn grudge.”’

He patted his hands lightly on the desk, as if to punctuate the thought. He smiled at me with about as much warmth as the small refrigerator next to Junior.


Mike Lupica is a prominent sports journalist and New York Times-bestselling author of more than forty works of fiction and non-fiction. A long-time friend to Robert B. Parker, he was selected by the Parker estate to continue the Sunny Randall series.

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