Book Title: Sunburn
Author: Laura Lippman
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 02/20/18
One is playing a long game. But which one?
They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through.
Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets that begin to accumulate as autumn approaches, feeding the growing doubts they conceal.
Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?
Something—or someone—has to give.
Which one will it be?
Laura Lippman’s Sunburn is quite possibly one of the most original mystery novels I’ve read since I’ve started my Goodreads account. It’s a complex, well-written mystery that not only hooks you into the story, it doesn’t let you know who in fact you want to root for! This is one of those mystery novels that you need to go in blind to get the full effect, but let’s see what I can provide for you before I give you my overall thoughts. Set in Belleville, Delaware, Polly is enjoying a cocktail at the townie bar, the High-Ho. Also in the High-Ho tavern is mysterious Adam. Adam and Polly both are crossing paths but their introduction leads to a lustful relationship—they are both intoxicated with each other, but they are a deadly combination. Both Adam and Polly decide to stay in Belleville after engaging in this lubricious affair. Both are hiding secrets, both are holding back their true reasons for passing through Belleville, and both have everything to lose if the other one finds out. As time goes on, a mysterious death sends shockwaves through the town, providing little-to-no evidence as to what or who was the culprit. Adam and Polly can’t get enough of each other, but how can they continue if they both can’t trust each other, and why can’t either of the two seem to run away from each other? Sunburn is so original in its storytelling and I was seriously in shock as how the story was panning out. Yes, I did have some issues with the story, but let’s start with the positive, shall we?
What I liked
The way this story is written, not only are the cast of characters in this story unable to trust each other, but as a reader, I had a seriously hard time knowing who or what to trust. It’s a very difficult task to be able to stump an avid reader such as myself. I hated some of the characters, but then grew to sympathize with them; I was enamored by others and grew to despise them. It reminds me of how real life tends to provide people first impressions of people that may or may not be an actual depiction of a person’s inner core of who they are. By the end of the story, there were definitely lines drawn in the sand for me, but Ms. Lippman was able to provide a perfect narrative for me to decide who on my own, rather than her forcing a suggestive narrative. Oh and let’s just talk about that ending—talk about a satisfying conclusion.
What wasn’t for me
This story has a lot of POVs, which tends to confuse me at times. The perfect trifecta of POVs usually works best for me, but as the POVs grow, so does my confusion. I lost count at how many POVs we get in this story, and some of them were not really important to the progression of the story. This can be argued positively as I did a buddy read with two friends of mine on this one (hey Shannon and Jamie!) and I’m sure they had different opinions on this critic.
I also wished there was more of a dialogue in the beginning of the story as well. This novel reads very similarly to The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison in the initial first half of the story, which you can take or leave it. For me, I would love to have more of a discussion between the characters instead of just reading how they were thinking the entire time. I do believe once I hit the halfway mark, I ended up getting used to this writing style.
Sunburn is a quick, sexy, dramatic, and dark read that I would totally suggest picking up if you are looking for something different. Something that won’t be the next “insert a combination of gone, train, girl”. Seriously, this book is a good deterrent for that, promise. I’m intrigued by how Laura Lippman paints a mystery story, and am curious to pick up one of her other reads.
Thank you William Morrow Books for providing an advanced copy for my honest review. Sunburn will be released February 20, 2018, thank you and good night! *mic drop*