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Sunburn: A Novel Hardcover – February 20, 2018
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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“Suspenseful as hell, and she writes like a dream [...] Lippman’s always good, but this is a cut above.” (Stephen King)
“A masterful mix from a total pro.” (People)
“Cool and twisty.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Every time Laura Lippman comes out with a new book, I get chills because I know I am back in the hands of the master. She is simply a brilliant novelist, an unflinching chronicler of life in America right now, and Sunburn is her dark, gleaming noir gem. Read it.” (Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl)
“Laura Lippman continues to push the envelope of modern crime-writing. Sunburn, her take on noir, may be her nerviest novel yet, an unsparing look at how lovers can betray one another.” (Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
“Modern noir at its best, it will delight old-movie lovers, satisfy suspense readers, and reward Lippman’s legion of fans.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“You can tell how much fun the author had updating the classic noir tropes, and it’s contagious. Plotty, page-turning pleasure.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“This is Lippman at her observant, fiercest best, a force to be reckoned with in crime fiction.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Ingeniously constructed and extremely suspenseful, the novel keeps us guessing right up until its final moments. Lippman is a popular and dependable writer, and this homage to classic noir showcases a writer at the height of her powers.” (Booklist (starred review))
“I feel like it creates a whole new category, which I’m thinking of as ‘femme noir’ [...] She’s taken this traditional noir structure of a man sweeping in to save a woman who then turns around and eats his heart out—she’s turned that notion on its head.” (Wall Street Journal)
From the Back Cover
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.
They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also just passing through. Yet she stays. And he stays—drawn to the 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.
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This novel has tons of drama and I started it thinking it would be a book I’d have some major heart-eyes over, but unfortunately there were a few things I did not enjoy. Laura Lippman is a great story teller with the strong ability to create characters with complex backgrounds; and characters are something this novel definitely does not lack. Some may find a story being told from multiple points of view to be rather confusing, while others may enjoy it. I found myself becoming lost in keeping up with who is who as additional character point of views were introduced. Due to this, there were many points in the story where things became very convoluted. It also brought on some difficultly in drawing connections between all these characters. Ultimately, the biggest issue I had with the characterization was I failed to understand what some characters, or their point of view, brought to enhance the story. None of the characters are truly likable, and I felt the reader is never given the true opportunity to get to know them well enough to even reach that point.
Of all the characters, I had the most difficulty connecting with the story’s main character, Polly. As a mother, I had such difficult understand how she could abandoned her children. This is something I could never wrap my head around and ultimately brought on huge dislike for Polly. Another thing I found to be unclear was how Polly and Adam instantly fell in love. While this is endearing, it is not conceivable. When did this happen? At what point did I miss this spark between them? Because of this lapse in the story line, and sprinkle in Polly’s prior tarnished relationships, I had a hard time putting any emotion into their relationship or rooting for its success. Another fault was the abusiveness shown towards women (Polly in particular) that are splattered among these pages. The domestic drama was a huge no go for me and was tough to swallow. I think this made up the largest part of my displeasure in this novel. I would not consider advising of this inclusion to be consider a spoiler, but more of a warning to those that are also uncomfortable by this.
On the positive side, I did thoroughly enjoy the setting being in 1995. This gave me a lot of nostalgia with all the references Lippman made to this era. Also, it was clever of her to use this time frame as a setting given that crimes and the detection of missing persons were more trying during this period. I will say, Laura Lippman has always had quite the ability to engage her reader and keep them flipping through the pages of her novels. She ends each chapter masterfully and it left me at the edge of my seat wanting to know what’s next. THIS is something I have always enjoyed about her novels.
The ending, although abrupt, did come as a surprise to me. I did not see the story taking that turn. However, I would not categorize this as a thriller, it was more as a multi-layered cat and mouse puzzle. Overall, Sunburn was a fast paced easy read and I did not dislike it. Mostly I appreciated it. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to read a psychological thriller that is a bit different than those it sits upon a shelf with.
Many thanks to TLC Blog Tours, Laura Lippman and William Morrow for an finished copy copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Each of those novels, turned into great movies that garnered countless spinoffs and remakes, involves betrayal and illicit love affairs, and consists primarily of unlikable characters, none of whom can ever be trusted. What a great way to sell Laura Lippman's new work of fiction, SUNBURN, which follows that formula to a tee and makes for an extremely pleasurable reading experience.
Right from the start, we are plunged back into the year 1995. It is on these first few pages that we are introduced to a red-headed lady who now goes by the name Polly Costello. There's a man watching her, and the first thing he’s drawn to are her sunburned shoulders. A con woman who is always in her element, she is sitting on a barstool trying to blend in. However, this is a novel filled with con artists, and she will pick up on that fact soon enough.
Polly befriends the barmaid, Cath, at the High-Ho bar in Belleville, Delaware, and quickly finds herself working alongside her. The cook, Adam, takes an instant liking to Polly --- something they both need to keep from Cath. The owner, Mr. C., is just happy that his small group of employees aren't robbing him blind. Early chapters jump to a man named Gregg struggling to raise an infant girl following the baby’s mother, Pauline, walking out on them. You already may have figured out who Pauline is, but that still will not prepare you for all the twists and turns that this hard-boiled thriller has in store for the reader.
Polly survives by showing little to no emotion when necessary and hardening herself for the difficult decisions she needs to make for both self-preservation and wearing the badge of the con game on her arm at all times. We get to know a little about Polly's past in bits and pieces. At one time she was badly abused by someone named Ditmars, naturally causing her to mistrust all men. It's no wonder she doesn't have her radar working when it turns out that Adam may have interest in her beyond mere carnal knowledge. Could Adam be under the employ of one of Polly's exes? Stay tuned, because it gets far more complicated from here.
Without fail, practically every character in this novel attempts to double-cross or blackmail each other. This will end quickly as those who are more skilled players at this game are sure to come out on top. It seems as if Polly may be attempting not only to hide from her past but also to stow away a nice chunk of change she appropriated along the way. It will be up to you to decide if you think Polly is committed to finally changing and settling down in this sleepy town, or if this is just one more stop on her endless highway to the sky.
Laura Lippman handles the text and subtext of SUNBURN with great ease, and it's apparent she's having a lot of fun with these characters. She is a skilled writer at the top of her own game --- thriller writing --- and this one is a doozy. As much as I enjoy all of Lippman’s work, I would love for her to return to where she started out --- with the Tess Monaghan series --- so I could learn how Tess has matured as both a character and a sleuth. After reading SUNBURN, it would be fun to see what nastiness Lippman might cook up for good old Tess!
Reviewed by Ray Palen
Most recent customer reviews
I loved the twists in this novel. When I first started this novel, I was questioning whether this book was for me as it seemed jumpy but things soon settled down.Read more