Title: A Madness of Sunshine
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Date of Publication: December 3, 2019
When Anahera’s husband dies, she decides to return home to Golden Cove, a little town in New Zealand where she grew up. But soon after her arrival, a popular young woman goes missing, and it’s up to Anahera and the town’s sole cop to figure out what happened to her. Nothing is as it seems, and this little town has more than its fair share of suspects…
A Madness of Sunshine is an engaging read from its very first line. While engaging, it is a slower read, and Singh puts an emphasis on building the town and its characters prior to introducing the overall mystery. The plot takes on the characteristics of an Agatha Christie mystery. Whatever happened to Miriama, it’s clear from the beginning that someone in town knows what happened to her. It becomes evident that we already know the character responsible for her disappearance, and it’s up to Anahera and Tom to find out who. While reading the book, I wrote the note “these people are all assholes”, and that’s true. There are so many potential murderers/psychopaths, that it seems like anyone could be responsible for Miriama’s disappearance.
This novel is told from two perspectives, that of Anahera and Tom. Anahera has returned home to the small town after her husband’s heart attack. She learned after his heart attack that he’d been having an affair, and she needs to come to terms with her grief and the knowledge that she will never be able to confront the man that she once loved. This makes for a beautiful character arc throughout the novel as she faces this internal struggle.
Tom is a former hero cop, but something in his past happened that resulted in him being sent to become this town’s sole police officer. It’s clear from the beginning that this is meant to be a romantic suspense, but I felt that the two had very little chemistry, and I wasn’t even sure if I was reading the signals right until they fell into bed together. The romance felt forced to me, like Singh wanted this to be a romantic suspense, and she felt that she had to push two lovers together who might have been better as friends. I’m a fan of her paranormal romance series, so I know for a fact that Singh is capable of writing passionate romance, but this book did not deliver on this front. As a lover of romantic suspense, I felt this is definitely more of a thriller, and the romance is another twist in the plotline, rather than a major appeal of reading this book. As mentioned before, the focus of this story is on the plot rather than their romance, so if you weren’t expecting a romance subplot, then you won’t be disappointed.
Setting & Language
To me, the setting is the major appeal of this novel. Set in a small town in New Zealand, it quickly becomes evident that the author knows this setting like the back of her hand. Singh has a fabulous way with words, and the way she describes the landscape clearly painted a picture in my mind. Even the title of the book “A Madness of Sunshine”, clearly demonstrates her handle of language and her ability to manipulate words to elicit conflicting emotions in the reader. The descriptions are beautiful, and the dichotomy of such a beautiful setting with such a horrific plotline makes for an engaging and fascinating read.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a thrilling mystery with beautiful prose, captivating characters, and a hint of romance.
*Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for the advanced reader copy for review*
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