Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Sunburn by Laura Lippman
HarperCollins; 2/20/18
eBook review copy; 304 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780062389923

Sunburn by Laura Lippman is an excellent, very highly recommended novel of psychological suspense. Written in the traditional noir style of writer James M. Cain, this novel is full of dark secrets, passion, and betrayal.

Set in 1995, Polly and Adam meet at the High-Ho tavern in Belleville, Delaware. Both claim to just be passing through when they first meet, but both find jobs at the tavern and stay. Neither Polly nor Adam is who they say they are; both have secrets and a private agenda. They are attracted to each other, but keep their distance, staying guarded and alert, but focused on the other. Fate determines they will become lovers.

Polly was on beach vacation in Fenwick, Delaware, with her husband, Gregg, and three-year-old daughter, Jani, when she walked out and left them both behind. What kind of woman leaves her husband and daughter behind? Adam knows a bit more about Polly than Gregg does. Adam has been told about her past, hired to find her, and figure out what she is doing. Both have secrets and are playing a game, but one of them is playing a long con and murder may be an option.

Superb, excellent, outstanding! Lippman's skillful writing shines in this sophisticated, twisty, satisfying noir, full of secrets, past and present, and mysteries. Sunburn is perfectly plotted and will gripe you from the beginning to the end. Readers will not know who or if they can trust any of these characters. There is betrayal, revenge, lust, and murder, but where does the truth rest?  The mystery will grip you while you try to figure out what these people are planning.

And the characters! Lippman shines in her ability to portray these characters. They are all so well-developed - nuanced, complicated, mysterious, finely layered, conflicted. Certainly Polly is an unreliable narrator and unlikable, or is she? Adam has his secrets, but does he know the truth? Can we trust what they are revealing, or do we need to seek what they aren't saying? Even the supporting cast of characters is wonderfully realized.

I enjoyed Sunburn from start to finish.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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