William Morrow | February 2018 | 384 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Laura Lippman's latest release, Sunburn, is a modern noir inspired by James M. Cain's works and though I'm not familiar with his books, I've to say I was captivated by Laura's writing style and the overall setting in this story, which takes place in a small town in Belleville, Delaware in 1995. 

Pauline (or Polly as she is later known), together with her husband Gregg and their three-year-old daughter, left for a beach vacation one day thinking this short little trip would help spice up their marriage. This is Pauline's second marriage and truth be told, her first marriage had her ended up in jail after she was convicted of murdering her then-husband, Ditmars. It was a self-defense, or so she claimed, after all Ditmars was abusive. 

As for her second marriage, she decided she needs a time out and has planned for an exit once Gregg is out at the beach bonding with their daughter. At the local tavern, she caught the attention of a man called Adam and they hit it off quickly. Adam is mysterious himself, and he has an agenda. Their fling became serious, but each holds on to their own secrets until someone dies. An accident or a planned murder by one party? And this is where the story becomes intriguing because Adam and Pauline kept messing up my mind and I wasn't sure what is up on their sleeves. 

Well, this is not your typical psychological suspense; Sunburn is a slow-burn as the author took her time in creating these two tantalizing characters and their interactions. As the story progresses, you couldn't help but to feel invested in them because though they aren't reliable, they do made you feel that they aren't who you think they are and you began to wonder about their feelings for each other as there seems to be a shift towards the end. 

Though the plot wasn't as complex as what I'd think initially, what made this story stand out is the characterisations and that the plot was quite well executed. Overall it was an engaging read and this novel makes a fine modern noir in my opinion.  

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14 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Love the cover.

  2. Kay Says:

    Hmmm...I'm not getting a good feeling about the main character. She kills her first husband (though he's abusive, so OK) and then cheats on her second husband while on a trip and then...I may wait a bit to try this. LOL

  3. Melody Says:

    Jenny - Me too. :)

  4. Melody Says:

    Kay - Pauline was an interesting character and what she did is totally wrong and immoral. The author has done a great job in portraying her though, and her writing style fascinated me enough to carry on reading. Plus, I was curious how it'd end. :)

  5. The Bookworm Says:

    I have a Laura Lippman book on my TBR, this one sounds really good. I like mysterious plots too. Great post!

  6. Iliana Says:

    This sounds quite different from some of her previous books. I like the noir-ish atmosphere so I think I need to give this one a try!

  7. I have enjoyed Lippman's books in the past (the few I've read--not many), and am curious about this one. It does sound a bit different from her usual fare. I am glad you liked this one.

  8. jenclair Says:

    I'm curious, too. Sounds like an interesting plot, and I'd want to know who the guilty party was!

  9. Lark Says:

    I'm not sure I'm up for reading a suspense novel with such a slow build up at the moment; but I'm glad you found things in this one to like. :)

  10. Melody Says:

    Naida - This one was a different read from her other books but a good read nonetheless. :)

  11. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Yes, it's different from her other books and I found it refreshing. Hope you'll enjoy it if you do read it.

  12. Melody Says:

    Wendy - Yes, it's different but I enjoyed it. I haven't read too many of her books so I need to check them out.

  13. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - It was interesting and I'm glad I read it. :)

  14. Melody Says:

    Lark - The slow-burn was worth it, Lark. I was glad it didn't disappoint in the end.

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