Book: “A Madness of Sunshine” by Nalini Singh
Publishing Info: Berkley, December 2019
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.
Book Description: New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…
On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.
That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.
Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.
It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.
Review: Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Books for providing me with an eARC of this novel!
Back at my previous library job, I spent a lot of my time shelving books in all sections of the library. This branch had a very high circulating romance section, and therefore I shelved a lot of Nalini Singh. This was my only exposure to her before Berkley Books sent me the link to an eARC of “A Madness of Sunshine”. I am not really one for romance novels in general, but the description caught my attention for two reasons. The first is that the plot is described like a gritty thriller. Missing women, a town with secrets, a potential serial killer, all of these things entice me. The other is the location: it takes place in New Zealand, my favorite place in the entire world! Could I relive the best vacation of my life through the pages of this book? I was willing to try!
“A Madness of Sunshine” is framed as a mystery/thriller, with the main thread of the story being about the disappearance of Miriama, a young and effervescent woman who goes missing and whose absence is noticed by many people within the small town of Golden Cove. It also happens to harken back to similar cases of young women who had gone missing a number of years previously. But the focus is more upon the two people who have their own reasons for wanting to find her. The first is Anahera, a woman who was born and raised in Golden Cove, and then left after a traumatic experience and she met a man who whisked her off to London. She’s back home, now a new widow (and reeling from the shock of his infidelity), and has a personal friendly connection to Miriama and her family. The other is Will, a detective who is trying to move on after he bungled an investigation in such a way that it left collateral damage. As the two of them try to put together the clues towards where Miriama could be, they start to get closer to each other. Which, given that Singh is a prolific and well received romance author, makes sense. I enjoyed both Anahera and Will, and while I didn’t really feel like they grew as much as I would have liked them to within the narrative I liked the heat gradually sparked between them. I did like learning about both of their backgrounds as well, and their various tragic backstory details made me really root for them to find happiness when all was said and done.
However, this is a thriller at it’s core, and when it came to that aspect of this book “A Madness of Sunshine” could have been a bit stronger. I would have liked to have more exploration of the missing women from years earlier, as it felt like they just got mentioned and brought up every once in awhile. I also felt like Miriama was more of an ideal than a character that we were supposed to care about, and because of that I didn’t really care one way or the other if she was found safe and sound at the end of the day. In terms of what happened to her, and what happened to the missing women prior, the solutions to those mysteries were standard and kind of bland. They made sense, but by the time we got to them I was less rocked by the revelations, and more ‘oh, okay’ when all was said and done. Not exactly the kind of reaction I like to have when it comes to the solution of a tantalizing thriller or mystery!
But the biggest positive of this book for me was the New Zealand locale. Singh effortlessly brings the town of Golden Cove to life, and the references to various aspects of New Zealand culture, geography, and history really anchored the setting for me. It makes me think about picking up more Nalini Singh novels, with the expectation of romance and heat, and see what they do for me. After all, it was the romance aspects that were the strongest parts of this book.
I think that if you are a thriller fan who isn’t used to a mix of other genres, “A Madness of Sunshine” may not satisfy your reading itch. But if you are going in with the expectation of a little bit of romance and angst, it might be a pretty good fit!
Rating 6: While it was a bit more heavy on the romantic and hidden past elements than the thriller ones, “A Madness of Sunshine” was an entertaining read, and takes place in my favorite place on Earth.
“A Madness of Sunshine” isn’t on many relevant Goodreads book lists yet, but I think it would fit in on “Popular Missing Persons Books”, and “New Zealand”.
Find “A Madness of Sunshine” at your library using WorldCat!