A young mother on a beach holiday with her loutish husband and small daughter gets up and leaves them both one morning. She gets as far as a small highway town and starts a flirtation with a guy she meets. However, this guy is a private detective who’s been hired to track down and inveigle his way into her life as a repercussion of the violent death of her first husband. The two of them enter warily into a romance, until another shocking death seems to force them closer together, or does it?
Laura Lippman’s SUNBURN is a superb, taut noir thriller which kept this reader on edge throughout. I don’t want to talk too much about plot mechanics, as I don’t want to give anything away, but Lippman clearly has a mastery of this kind of ultra-tense yarn and makes the feints count as much as the blows. What I will note though is that the world it creates is beautifully evoked. I could feel this small town around these characters inhabit, know even what it was like to work in the local bar.
For some plot is everything. They look at whether it makes logical sense while hiding its twists and see the book’s quality on that alone. But if a novel can combine a well thought out plot with beautifully evoked characters and a real sense of place, then it can truly be something special. SUNBURN most definitely does that.
Just a reminder, my own noir novel, DIANA CHRISTMAS is available now!