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Inspired by the noir novels of James M. Cain, Laura Lippman assiduously delivers a masterpiece of the form in her steamy novel Sunburn. An alleged secret stash of cash from a questionable insurance settlement, apparently amoral characters, and ulterior motives all mixed up because of a fervid love affair simmer over a steady flame, until everything combusts.
The first thing Adam notices about Polly when he spies her in a local Tavern in Belleville, Delaware is her sunburned shoulders; why would a red head of her age make such a rookie mistake? And so we begin.
Adam is counting on a straightforward easy money detective job. He needs to find Polly, figure out her next move and figure out what she is running from. Imagine his surprise when he stops for a beer and is smitten with the barmaid, only to discover there is so much more to the story. Before he knows it, he is in deep, and his involvement in this easy job may have lethal consequences--for him, or Polly. Fast forward: Polly and Adam’s torrid love affair is as high-risk as what happens if investigators uncover their secrets.
The trick of a successful noir novel is to give the reader an unsettling feeling-- you want to know the protagonists’ motives, but you also want things to turn out okay; even though you know they can’t. Or can they? When Lippmann begins to unravel the game of cat and mouse, she knows exactly where she wants the reader to be.
Sarah's review first appeared on 89.1 KMUW. You can listen to her review HERE.— Sarah Bagby
“Sunburn pays homage to the novels of James M. Cain, offering up crooked cops, handsome drifters, and, of course, a femme fatale. Watch the secrets unravel as a runaway wife with an ugly past takes up in a small town. Lovers of noir will delight in the familiar tropes. We know she's bad, but how bad is she? Will an affair between two untrustworthy people turn into true love? Sunburn is the perfect book to take on that spring break to a sunny locale. Pour the lemonade and lay out your beach towel.”
— Sarah Sorensen, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
Named one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018 by Bustle, Popsugar, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Seattle Times, Book Riot, LitHub, BookPage, and Paperback Paris.
"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
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?
Inspired by James M. Cain’s masterpieces The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce, Sunburn is a tantalizing modern noir from the incomparable Laura Lippman.
Since Laura Lippman's debut in 1997, she has been recognized as a distinctive voice in mystery fiction and named one of the "essential" crime writers of the last 100 years. Her books have won most of the major awards in her field and been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.