• PUBLICATION DATE: 2/20/2018

What happened, Laura Lippman? This could have been a 5 STAR book! I’ve never read any of your books and as I began this psychological thriller, I was hysterically delighted to have discovered my new favorite author! But, then. Never mind.

I’m truly at a loss to explain the downward spiral this book unexpectedly went on. The first half completely sucked me in with villainous, questionable characters involved in….murder? insurance fraud? arson? The reader is not sure what, but you can bet it’s not on the up and up! We’ve got two strangers that both begin working in a road side diner. The cook, Adam, is actually a private eye, hired to investigate Polly, a runaway wife and mother, now working as a waitress.

Instead of an adversarial relationship, our two main characters fall in love and as the tension ratchets up, we are not quite sure which one is the “bad guy”. The perfect setup to a great story, right?

Wrong. It’s like the second half completely fell apart, or more accurately, stagnated in place and went nowhere. Can you hear my tears hitting the pavement as I listened? (I’m one of those weirdos that walks and listens to books, not music. )

What a shame! This is a film noir-type read in the vein of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE or DOUBLE INDEMNITY. I love those old twisty, gritty movies based on books by the godfather of noir fiction, James M. Cain.  I was in love with SUNBURN until I wasn’t. It was right on point up until somewhere around 60% and then it becomes rambling, repetitive, and worst of all, the dreaded B-Word. Boring!

I’ve had the ARC for months, but ended up using an Audible credit for the audiobook. And, yes, I really want that credit back, thank you.

I followed the audiobook along sometimes from my Kindle ARC. I never realized how many changes there are from ARC to finished product. Is that unusual? Not just a few different words, but sometimes whole passages were changed. It was interesting to compare the two and the finished product was greatly improved over the ARC. Hmmmm.  Maybe the editor fell asleep during the last half of the book and forgot to E-D-I-T. Puhleeeze.

The uneven pacing, sadly, did not improve in the end. Why, why, why? I feel like too many plot angles and character narratives were revealed so early in the story that the reader is just left hanging around for the second half of the book, waiting for the other shoe to fall. I usually will stick with a novel, especially one that had such a fantastic beginning.  That’s me, always hoping for a big payoff with a twisty ending. I was decisively disappointed in the end with SUNBURN, that other shoe never did drop.

SIDENOTE: The audio production was 5 STAR ALL THE WAY; the narrator was so brilliant! I actually went all fangirl and stalked her on Twitter. I did unearth this tidbit: SUSAN BENNETT is the voice for your iPhone SIRI. “Siri, what happened to Sunburn?”

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