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Sunburn by Laura Lippman

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

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Debs Simpson

Whilst not at all the kind of novel i would normally read, I nevertheless found myself quickly drawn in to this one and wanting to know more about Polly and Adam

And their stories. The author skilfully revealed layer on layer as the narrative unfolded and sustained my interest to the very much unexpected conclusion. For a British reader like me the language and cultural references are in parts impenetrable, sometimes I had no clue what the words/expressions meant! But this did not deter me from enjoying this complex and well written novel.

Feeda Bullen

I was very pleased (and surprised) to receive this book from Viking just before leaving for a cruise on the River Douro in Portugal. The book provided me with excellent entertainment throughout my holiday. It is a well written book with many twists and turns. It proved to be a real page turner and kept my interest throughout. Information is revealed at intervals to help the reader understand what is happening, although the clever writing made it impossible to be sure until the final pages. A very cleverly constructed novel. I had not come across the author before, but I intend to read more of her work in future.

Marilyn Hunt

This novel of suspense and intrigue is set in the non-descript town of Belleville with a man who we later learn is Adam surveying the sunburned shoulders (hence the title) of a woman. There is an immediate mystery to her: why is she here? What is she up to? We learn through a flashback that after a weekend at the beach with her husband and daughter she has left them.

More mystery: what kind of person would leave her child? We discover that her name is Polly/Pauline and gradually Polly’s past unfolds as she remains at Belleville taking a job as a barmaid. Adam also stays, and they work alongside one another, wary of each other initially and then falling in love and having a passionate affair. Adam is, however, as mysterious as Polly with his own secrets. Threads of Polly’s past (a former abusive husband, a disabled child and even crimes and murder) are intricately woven with the present to come to a violent climax. In general I enjoyed the characters and the plot. The pace, slow at first, picked up and Polly was an especially intriguing character, though not always sympathetic.

The ending, placed twenty years later, was not completely in tune with the rest, although it did highlight the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children.

Anne Cawley

To start with a cliché, this book is a real page turner. A mystery with great character development. The femme fatal, Polly, moved from villain to victim and back again, keeping the reader interested and intrigued. The writer has cleverly given snippets of information leaving the reader on their toes and wanting to find out more.

Perhaps there was more to be said about Adam’s background to explain why he would become so attached to Polly even though he knew the sordid details of her past. He appeared to be doomed to fall for her from their first meeting, forgetting all warning signs. It is hard to imagine a happy future for them, but they seem destined to continue their relationship come what may.

I thought this was cleverly composed, it kept me interested all the way to the end. This is a dark tale of passion with twists and turns throughout. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy an unpredictable story which is well written.

Judith Francis

Set in America, this is the story of Polly and Adam who meet and start a love affair while working in a bar in Belleville, a small town in Delaware. Gradually their past is revealed. Polly, damaged by previous relationships, has much to hide but Adam also is secretive about his reasons for being in the town. As the plot unravels slowly, the main enjoyment of the book is to uncover new insights into the characters, so to write more about the plot would give too much away.

This book is an easy holiday read but it isn't the sort of book I would normally choose. A major part is that the two protagonists form a relationship but I found that out of character for both of them. The ending comes in a rush and the last few pages are devoted to the explanations of what happened next. Knowing that, made me even more sure that the two would not have been together. I didn't care about either of the main characters, I didn't find them sympathetic at all! Yes, an easy read but I'm afraid I couldn't believe in any of it!

Susan Buchanan

This novel is set in the 90s but written in a staccato, laconic style more reminiscent of a Mickey Spillane novel of the 50s. The two main characters are Pauline/Polly a runaway, abused wife with a mysterious past, and Adam, a private detective employed to investigate her. They build an elaborate network of lies and deceit, designed to intrigue the reader into speculating who is the ‘baddie’. Unfortunately neither is a sympathetic character and both have unpleasant traits so it was difficult to empathise, or even care what happened to them. The plot becomes turgid and loses momentum until the final denouement which reveals a tragic outcome and Pauline becoming the brave heroine condemned to soldier on alone having secured the future and happiness of her two daughters. I found the book disappointing and somewhat formulaic.

Barry Starbuck

Just why does Pauline leave her husband and very young daughter and move to a small isolated town in Delaware....and is Pauline her real name? Who is the mysterious stranger she meets there and how does he know so much about her? and who is the sinister Irving? Lippman writes in a "descriptive narrative" style which puts her readers right in the heart of the drama unfolding before them. With many sinister and suspenseful twists along the way, it is only in the final pages the truth actually emerges.

Sunburn is the ideal thriller for holiday time or to read whilst curled up in front of the fire on a winter's evening.