Tag Archives: laura lippman

Sunburn by Laura Lippman – a review BLOG TOUR

sunburnI was lucky enough to meet Laura Lippman at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a couple of year’s ago and have always been a fan of her books. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel Sunburn.

Polly is on a family holiday to the beach when she walks off leaving behind her husband and daughter. She lands in a small town in Delaware and gets a job at the High Ho restaurant. She is soon joined by the mysterious Adam who gets a job as a cook. Whilst he is obviously following Polly for some reason, it is soon clear that he also has secrets. As they both become more drawn into each other’s worlds the lines between truth and lies get more blurred.

This was a really intriguing story. Whilst it wasn’t one you’d class as fast paced, it felt almost hypnotic in it’s telling. It has been likened to some of the classic noir tales such as those by James M. Cain and that is a great comparison. It starts off as a relatively simple premise, we are lead to believe that Polly is the kind of woman who can leave her child behind and therefore is uncaring. Yet as the story flows you realise that things are not as black and white as they seem. Adam could be Polly’s hero turning up just when she needs someone. Yet there is more to him than meets the eye and it soon becomes clear he is not necessarily the person we are first led to believe.

This was change from my usual books, but I really enjoyed it. The gentle pace made for a nice relaxing read on a train. However the twists were certainly there and even though you feel you know most of the story by the time you are halfway through there is still so much that is unknown you just have to carry on. I really liked the fact that everytime I thought I had a handle on who was good and who was bad something else became clear and thoughts changed.

It’s hard to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say for me the ending was perfect. I would thoroughly recommend Sunburn especially if like me you enjoy reading a strong female lead in a very compelling story.

Sunburn is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunburn-Laura-Lippman-ebook/dp/B0771X1KMX

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.

SUNBURN_blog tour (1)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under book review, Uncategorized

Doors Open

Well it’s over, the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival has finished, and I have no idea how to begin to describe this weekend. It was excellent!

Me and the Sister travelled over on Thursday afternoon. After a quick trip round the bookshops of Harrogate (market research obviously) we headed to the hotel where the festival kicked off to a great start with Denise Mina being awarded the crime novel of the year. Colin Dexter then made a guest appearance to accept the lifetime achievement award, he was a very witty man.

Breakfast the next morning and the celebrity spotting began before the first session of the day started. This was Mark Billingham (who incidentally was our first celebrity spot at breakfast) interviewing John Connolly. Obviously great friends it was a very funny interview.

The first full day of the festival included the science fiction session. Contrary to my original thoughts this turned into a very amusing talk and not completely geeky! In the afternoon there was the rather controversial e-book debate, which yesterday afternoon on twitter was rebranded ‘tossergate’. Some very strong views were aired, including one bookseller who pointed out that people are happy to pay over £8 to view a two hour film, but will balk against buying a £7.99 novel.

John Connolly then reappeared, this time as chair of the America’s Got Talent session with four great authors discussing their latest book and what they are doing next. After such a full day we decided to skip the Kate Mosse interview (although apparently she was absolutely fascinating) and headed into a very busy Harrogate for something to eat.

We got back in time to see what, to me was definitely one of the highlights – A late night chat between Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. With Mark Billingham attempting to stand in as barman for the pair, it did seem that they were just out for the night having a couple of beers and a catch up which was excellent.

Saturday morning started with Peter James and quite a disturbing story about his stalker. At one point he was receiving up to 40 emails a day from her, how on earth did she find the time? The day continued with a fascinating debate on whether the 1920s/30s really can be called the ‘Golden Age of Crime’ before Val McDermid took to the stage for the New Blood panel. This was her choice of the best new writers of the year and  included the lovely Elizabeth Haynes who I later met in the queue for Harlen Coben and again in the toilets (Contrary to what it may sound like, especially after the earlier discussions I wasn’t actually stalking her!)

The afternoon continued with the same gusto. One panel was an interesting discussion between 3 female writers and ‘reader in residence’ Martyn Waites (who writes as a women) as to whether women write more gruesome stuff than men. There was also a special event around the TV show Luther, where journalist Miranda Sawyer interviewed its writer Neil Cross alongside production team members and two actors (I confess I now have a bit of a crush on Warren Brown who plays Ripley).

Early evening and we went along to the Come Die With Me dinner hosted by Ann Cleaves, and were sat on a table with SJ Parris. It was then straight into an interview with Harlen Coben who was talking to Laura Lippman. It was another interesting session, and again they are obviously great friends and it was a very natural interaction.

Me and the Sister then rather nervously went along to the Late Night Quiz. Neither of us are particularly good at quizzes, and not knowing anyone else we did have visions of ending up bottom on our own. However it was great fun. We met two very nice ladies again on their own, and rather amazingly (Especially considering the competition in the room) we came third out of the readers teams and fifth overall.

Another late night in the bar (although much earlier than most people) and then our final day started with a discussion around translation, before the final session which was Mark Lawson interviewing an interesting Jo Nesbo. A quick trip to Betty’s as we’d not had time to go during the weekend and we left the Swan Hotel sadly behind.

People keep asking ‘which was your favourite’ and I can honestly say, I haven’t got a clue. I can’t pick one as it would feel like a disservice to all the others. Each session was fascinating and I came away from each one thinking ‘wow’. Admittedly that only lasted for the 10 minutes I was queuing for the book signings before it was straight back into the next session. It was a full on weekend and I loved every minute of it. Roll on 2013!!

3 Comments

Filed under Crime writing, Theakstons Festival

Never Look Back – review

The Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival Challenge (TOPCWFC for short) has got off to a flying start. My first book was by Laura Lippman called Never look back.

A brand new author for me, the story is about Elizabeth, now Eliza, who is married with 2 children including a teenage daughter. Eliza was kidnapped when she was 15 by Walter the serial killer (the choice of name could probably have done with some work) Walter is on death row for the killing of two girls, plus he was convicted of the rape and kidnapping of Eliza. (So technically not a serial killer but lets gloss over that point)

Returning to America after many years of living in England she receives a letter from Walter which leads to phone calls between them and then finally a visit. Walter is hoping he can use the power he had over a 15 year old Elizabeth, to manipulate the adult Eliza to change her story and get him a stay of execution.

The story flipped between past and present, and whilst it was not a fast paced thriller, it was a very clever page turner. The mix between the adult and the child story was intriguing, and the idea of starting from the end when the criminal has already been caught was an interesting idea.  The crimes themselves were almost secondary to a story that was about human emotion and reaction rather than a string of gruesome murders (usually my more favoured stories!)

Certain elements seemed a bit daft, for example she installs a separate land line phone purely for him to ring on, rather than a pay as you go mobile which could be turned off. But as a plot device used to build the tension that can be forgiven. Everyone knows that waiting for a phonecall is nerve racking, and the phone sitting in the corner helped build the suspense.

The story has a grounding in the idea of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ Eliza spent six weeks with Walter, and during this time it seems as though she made little attempt to escape and was with him when the final victim was killed. In the story many believed at the time that Eliza was Walter’s girlfriend and involved willingly in the crimes. However I felt it was more that Eliza was simply scared and naïve rather than experiencing any real empathy towards Walter. She’s portrayed as quite weak and her adult self wants her husband to make all decisions and constantly asks his opinion. The reader is left wandering is this a reaction to her kidnapping, or is her

Walter himself thinks of her as different to the others, and uses this to try and make her believe that he didn’t kill the girl. The ending of the book was good although, more of a Coronation Street ending, than a Sherlock Holmes one. You knew what was going to happen, briefly you think there might be a surprise, then its back to what you thought would happen in the first place.  That’s not a criticism I happen to be a big Corrie fan.

One of the outcomes of the TOPCWFC (That’s never going to catch on!) is that it will help us decide which authors we definitely need to see talk, and which we can miss in favour of Betty’s coffee. I think Laura Lippman is a definite need to see.

1 Comment

Filed under book review, Crime writing, Theakstons Festival