Thursday, May 16, 2019

Fiction Review: Sunburn

At the beginning of April, my husband and I took our pop-up camper out for its maiden voyage of the year, and drove down to Virginia to enjoy a few days of vacation. For the ride, we chose a thriller on audio by local author Laura Lippman, who normally sets her suspenseful novels in the Baltimore area. This time, we were surprised to find that her latest creepy thriller, Sunburn, actually takes place across the bay in our own little state of Delaware.

Polly is vacationing with her husband and young daughter at the Delaware beaches in June 1995 when she packs a small bag and slips away. She gets a ride with a passing car that's heading west; Polly isn't sure where she's going or what she's going to do, but she knows she wants to go west. When the car passes through the small, inland town of Belleville, DE, Polly gets out, has a meal at a local bar and restaurant and decides to stay awhile. She easily gets hired as a waitress for the busy season, with tourists passing through on their way from Washington and Baltimore to the beach. While working there, Polly meets Adam, a handsome single man who comes in alone for a drink. Adam is clearly entranced by red-headed, sunburned Polly. He is also passing through but decides to stay. In fact, he's trained as a chef and soon gets a job cooking at the little place, giving the owner a break from the kitchen work. The two strangers end up working together and soon, sleeping together. They are mutually attracted to each other, but both of them carry secrets that they hold back, even as they get to know each other better. What is each of them hiding? Which secrets will be spilled first and will they destroy the newly formed relationship?

Sunburn is a gripping psychological suspense story, filled with a creeping dread as each new secret is revealed. The reader soon learns more about Adam and his reasons for being in Belleville, but Polly's mysteries are revealed more slowly, with edgy tension. The darkness of some of these secrets, combined with the passionate relationship between the two main characters, gives the novel a noir feel. We thoroughly enjoyed listening to this taut thriller on audio, and Susan Bennett provides the perfect voice for Polly. Both my husband (who reads a lot of thrillers) and I were captivated and finished the audio book that week, anxious to find out how it would all end. Lippman is always a good bet for a thriller, but we found this one to be uniquely compelling.

320 pages, William Morrow Paperbacks

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Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author. 

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.


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  1. Replies
    1. Glad to hear it, Diane - we did, too!

  2. there are so many psychological thrillers out there these days and I really enjoy them. This one sounds good.

    1. I enjoy them, too, Helen! This is a good one.

  3. Great review! Just reading your description, I already really want to know why the main character would just leave her family.

    1. Yes, exactly! Why she left her daughter remains a mystery until the very end. Lots of good suspense.