Monday, March 12, 2018

Sunburn by Laura Lippman (Book Review)

Title: Sunburn
Author: Laura Lippman
Publication: Harper Collins, hardcover, 2018
Genre: Suspense
Plot: New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals—and cold-blooded murder.

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.

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?

Audience: Fans of psychological suspense and of authors such as Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Megan Abbott

My Impressions: Laura Lippman, you get darker and darker!  As always, this talented author delivers a fascinating look at the innermost thoughts of people with secrets but here she has
outdone herself as everyone seems to have multiple secrets and trusts no one.  The creepy factor is extreme (although not as extreme as in I’d Know You Anywhere, which is like a perpetual skin crawl), the characters were the type of people you are grateful not to know personally, and yet – bit by bit – the reader becomes invested in their story and starts rooting for Polly not to be exposed, for Adam to either come clean with her or leave town, and for nothing bad to happen to 3-year-old Jani.  There are some books where you can tell what is going to happen a mile off, and sometimes that interferes with your enjoyment of the story.  With Laura Lippman, there is endless suspense but no predictability except that you will be up late reading!

Long ago and oh so far away, I was sitting in a meeting when talented editor Carrie Feron said she was excited about a first mystery with a wonderful sense of place set in Baltimore.   She said the author’s name was Laura Lippman, and I sat up and said, “I’ve read her!”  No editor ever turns down support from the Barnes & Noble sales manager so Carrie hid her surprise and didn’t miss a beat, promising me a manuscript later that day.  I told the room I had recently read a fabulous article by Laura in the Baltimore Sun although perhaps did not mention it was praising the Betsy-Tacy books, one of my favorite series.  In fact, back in those early days of the Internet, it was still pretty rare and exciting to find Betsy-Tacy fans so someone from DC had joyously shared the Baltimore Sun article with me.   Laura is a true fan, and usually hides a clue in her books for fans of Betsy-Tacy and Beany Malone – here, I found two (spoiler below).   Her “in the know” readers love looking for these mentions.  When I couldn’t find it in Wilde Lake (my favorite of her standalones), I broke down and asked her, then was annoyed with myself for missing it.

Maud Hart Lovelace, author of Betsy-Tacy, will be celebrated in Minnesota at a conference in August 2018, and Laura Lippman has promised to speak, which will be a great treat for attendees.  I know she is concentrating these days on her “bigger” standalone books but I am fond of her journalist-turned-sleuth heroine, Tess Monaghan, and hope Tess will find some new fans too.  I gave my copy of Baltimore Blues to my niece when she was about to start at Johns Hopkins because her mother and I wanted her to see her new home with Laura’s eyes (you have to admit, if she saw it through Laura’s husband’s eyes (mesmerizing though that might be) she might have been too scared to leave her Boston high school!).  

Purchase LinksAmazon  B&N  IndieBound  HarperCollins
Source: I was provided a pre-publication copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes.  You can visit other stops on the tour via the links below:

Instagram Stops

Tuesday, February 20th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Tuesday, February 20th: Instagram: @hollyslittlebookreviews
Thursday, February 22nd: Instagram: @hippiechickreads
Wednesday, February 28th: Instagram: @ACaffeinatedBibliophile
Thursday, March 1st: Instagram: @acouplereads

Review Stops

Tuesday, February 20th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, February 21st: The Book Diva’s Reads
Thursday, February 22nd: Into the Hall of Books
Friday, February 23rd: bookchickdi
Monday, February 26th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, February 27th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, February 28th: Novel Gossip
Tuesday, March 6th: A Book a Week
Wednesday, March 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, March 13th: Clues & Reviews
Wednesday, March 14th: Julie’s Bookshelf
Thursday, March 15th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Spoilers: In Chapter 25 it is revealed that Polly lives on Lilac Way, which is the name of the community center where Beany Malone finds her true calling (and her true love). In the next chapter, Adam quotes from Kipling: "Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone," and although I did not know it was Kipling, I immediately recognized it as the first lines of Betsy and the Great World.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Wilde Lake is the only Lippman book I've read and I REALLY enjoyed it! I've lived my whole life in the Baltimore area so I really need to make time to read more of her books.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!