No one stops in the nondescript town of Belleville, Delaware until two strangers do. It is the summer of 1995. Polly Costello is a mysterious redhead on the run from her past and Adam Bosk is a private detective with improbable good looks. Both harbor secrets and an undeniable attraction to each other. Then someone dies and a seductive thriller ensues.
Sunburn combines the cynical attitudes and sexual motivations of 40s film noir (imagine James M. Cain’s The Postman Rings Twice) with the domestic unease of a woman who deserts her family (think of Anne Tyler’s novel The Ladder of Years). It is not one of those mysteries that feels recycled, impractical or incredible. Instead it is sultry, cagey and uncommonly clever.
The story is both character-driven and plot-driven, making it a standout in the saturated psychological thriller genre. Lippman is a master at slowly revealing information and tying up all the loose ends. I savored every page including the really satisfying ending.
The feminist theme of a dark, sexy woman outmaneuvering the men in her life is a delight and the stunning cover art perfectly suits the book's overall femme fatale vibe.
Best paired with the most perfect grilled cheese and tomato sandwich (the brown stripes on the buttery white bread perfectly symmetrical, finely chopped bacon inside). On the side: fries made from fresh potatoes then sprinkled with rosemary and a cup of homemade aioli.