by Laura Lippman
Published by William Morrow
Genre: mystery; suspense; thriller
3.5 / 5
Polly and Adam appear to meet by chance, yet like so much in this book, Laura Lippman quickly schools you to make zero assumptions because her characters are not up to what you think they are, nor are they who you believe them to be.
Taking her cues from The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, Lippman takes you on a twisty, sultry trip. She immediately establishes that she controls this story, and your best course is to surrender to her words and her characters.
What will you make of Polly? Will you, as I did, find yourself changing your opinion of her? Will you like her one minute, despise her the next, and pray for her damnation the minute after that? Will you want her to find happiness with Adam, or will you find him undeserving? Will you trust him? Will you root for him? Or will you suspect him at every turn? Lippman peppers her tale with ancillary characters, occasionally letting you get to know some of the people within Polly’s and Adam’s orbits. Some are innocent collateral damage, whereas others are clouded in guilt and deception.
The title refers to Polly’s shoulders the first time Adam sees her, and Lippman works with this image: skin burnt by the sun, layers peeling, new skin beneath ready to be born. You get burned, you let the dead slough away, and you emerge anew. Keep this in mind as you read this book. Lippman is ever ready to torch the epidermis to reveal what lies beneath.
The only problem is that you get to used to the detours that you start to anticipate them. This sort of messed with the experience, if that makes sense. So don’t do that. Don’t be me when you read this book. Instead of wondering how Laura Lippman is going to surprise you next, just sit back, read, and let her do it.
You will want to talk about Sunburn when you finish it. Please come back here and let me know your thoughts. And if your book club enjoys a fantastic suspense’thriller, this makes a strong choice.
In New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman’s novel of psychological suspense, a pair of lovers are locked in a passionate, yet uncompromising, game of dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals—and cold-blooded murder
“Another extraordinary novel from Laura Lippman—full of just-one-more chapter, stay-up-late suspense, but packed too with nuance, subtlety, observation and humanity. Lippman is a natural storyteller at the height of her powers.”— Lee Child, #1 New York Timesbestselling author
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 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.
About the Author:
Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working full-time and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001.
Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.
She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association. Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade.
After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.
Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since. She is the daughter of the late Theo Lippman Jr., a Sun editorial writer who retired in 1995, and Madeline Mabry Lippman, a former Baltimore City school librarian. Her sister, Susan, is a local bookseller.
Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.