by Laura Lippman


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Named one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018 by Bustle, Popsugar, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Seattle Times, Book Riot, LitHub, BookPage, and Paperback Paris.

"Every time Laura Lippman comes out with a new book, I get chills because I know I am back in the hands of the master. She is simply a brilliant novelist, an unflinching chronicler of life in America right now, and Sunburn is her dark, gleaming noir gem. Read it." -Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl

New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals—and cold-blooded murder.

One is playing a long game. But which one?

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets.

Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?

Something—or someone—has to give.

Which one will it be?

Inspired by James M. Cain’s masterpieces The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce, Sunburn is a tantalizing modern noir from the incomparable Laura Lippman.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062389923
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/20/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 601,464
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Since Laura Lippman's debut in 1997, she has been recognized as a distinctive voice in mystery fiction and named one of the "essential" crime writers of the last 100 years. Her books have won most of the major awards in her field and been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.


Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

January 31, 1959

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, Georgia


B.S., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1981

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Sunburn 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No complaints here about the writing. But I was so disappointed with the twists at the end. And frankly, one of them made me angry and sad. If you like happy endings, this is not the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn’t put it down! Lots of twists I didn’t see coming but ultimately a very satisfying read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just read it, page turner, satisfying
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 6 months ago
Almost did t start this book. First couple pages did t like but I am so glad I continued!! It was excellent!! Couldn’t put it down
LindaMc12 More than 1 year ago
First let me state I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway promotion and that has not biased my opinion of this book. As I started to read this book I was wondering why it was titled Sunburn. As the story progressed I realised it was a slow burn to find out the real truth about our heroine Pauline aka Polly. At first she appears to be a selfish woman abandoning her husband and child. Then we discover more nasty stuff about her earlier years before this latest husband and child. She does not always come off as a sympathetic character. At the time Pauline leaves her family we also meet Adam who we learn is not necessarily the short order cook passing through town that he wants Pauline and others to think he is at this moment. What is not a slow burn is their attraction to one another. It is hot, steamy, sexy and for at least one of them life threatening. It is hard to give more details because every time one mystery is resolved another one pops up. What I can say is I found this to be a fast read; mainly because I needed to know the real story. It surprised me with some revelations but there were a couple of things I figured out pretty quickly. If you like suspense and psychological thrillers I recommend this book for a rainy Sunday read. I did not give it five stars because I did not like one aspect at the end which obviously I cannot reveal. Also, there are times that out heroine is just not likeabke. As the book continues we understand her motives but I do not think I would have made the same choices she does to resolve her problems even though they are some life threatening issues. But I guess that is why we love to read so we can live through characters who might do the unthinkable when we do not have the nerve.
FrancescaFB More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Obvious trash written by an irritating twit.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
The Short of It: Manipulation & motive will keep you guessing with this one. The Rest of It: Sunburn has gotten a lot of buzz and for good reason. It has a cold, rather calculated protagonist. One that you can’t quite figure out which makes this read hard to put down. Pauline walks away from her husband and child while on vacation. She heads to a small town, finds a job in a small little bar, puts herself up in a modest apartment, reinvents herself as “Polly”, and then… falls in love. Why has she walked away from her family? Why has a private investigator been hired to track her? Who is paying for his services? What is Pauline hiding? Plenty. What makes this a fascinating read is Pauline. She is like a cat. She always lands on her feet no matter what she’s been dealt but she’s not always likable. Guys seem to like her, which she uses to her advantage but women? No. Women do not like her and this is where she finds herself challenged. I think Lippman spent quite a bit of time developing Pauline’s character. She’s very complex. I found myself not liking her but then I would turn a page and I’d get a glimmer of something similar to like. She is a very strong character and personality and yet there is a vulnerability to her which makes the story plausible. Sunburn is not a perfect read. There are some stereotypes and moments where you’ll question some of the plot lines, but all this year I have been reading books that have been pegged as page-turners and this one definitely falls into that category. I guess you could call it a mystery but I didn’t see it as such. That said, I liked it quite a bit.
ConstantlyReadingMomma More than 1 year ago
I LOVE Laura Lippman. Everything I’ve read by her (and I haven’t read all of her books) is intelligent and suspenseful, filled with great characters and wonderful twists. Knowing that, you’ll understand that I had HIGH expectations going into Sunburn. And Queen Laura did not disappoint. Very different than her previous books, Sunburn is very much noir fiction. Dark, shady, sneaky. Perfect. Lippman obviously studied the masters of noir, especially James M. Cain. She pays complete homage to him when one of her characters goes to a series of old, black and white movies aptly named “Raising Cain.” The series features three of Cain’s best loved books turned into movies: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce. Sunburn is a great tribute to the masters (especially Cain) of noir. Lippman subtly uses the formula of the masters to create nearly perfect modern noir. She flashes back to 1995, to a time before cell phones and social media stalking, a time when a person could have real mystery and an unknown quality (unless one chose to do real research). When a person could disappear pretty easily. Polly (Pauline) is an incredibly complex character with a rich, layered backstory that comes in pieces throughout the book. We meet her as she abandons her husband and three year-old daughter, so immediately she’s unlikable. But is she, really? And then there’s Adam, also complex, but his complexity is laid at the reader’s feet. He’s a private investigator, sent to find Polly. Slowly we discover who sent him, and why. And slowly Adam falls in love with Polly, and she with him. As they circle each other with truths and lies, their love is the only honest thing happening between them. Will the lies, and the truth, get in the way of their love? That’s the question. Lippman uses all the great devices of noir: a complex damsel in distress; a smart, honest PI; a plethora of bad guys waiting to get to the damsel. A mystery peeled back in layers, all wrapped up in a love story. PERFECT. Once again, Lippman didn’t disappoint. If your looking for something different, something that will remind you of smoky rooms, a good stiff drink, and black and white mysteries, look no further. Sunburn is perfect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. New favorite writer
tc3von More than 1 year ago
This book has been all the buzz on my book blogs. I liked it. I didn't love it. I liked the writing and the story. Yes, Polly is intense. She's definitely a strong woman, well eventually. She's slightly crazy, but justified, mostly. I thought I had some things figured out, I didn't, but the end wasn't a big twist. It wasn't a shocker. It was just an end. It's definitely not the best or worst book I've read this year. Just mediocre for me. First sentence: It's the sunburned shoulders that get him. Last sentence: You could even say it arches.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars I loved the twists in this novel. When I first started this novel, I was questioning whether this book was for me as it seemed jumpy but things soon settled down. I had many questions as I read this novel, it was one of those novels that pushed me the more that I read. Individuals were trying to be devious and cunning and they were doing an excellent job of it yet I began to wonder who exactly is doing the scheming? Polly had a history. She has just walked out on her husband and her three-year-old daughter, history seems to be repeating itself. How Polly can leave her children behind baffles me and I needed to learn more about Polly to understand her motives. Polly arrives in a small town and she begins to build a life there yet I have a feeling, she won’t be staying long. Adam, pops up on the scene and Polly notices him but after what she just did to husband #2, she notices him but there isn’t that instant romance a guy like him would provoke. Adam knows about Polly’s past and has followed her to this town, in his truck. Now that we got individuals where they belong and we got some history, I couldn’t put the book down as things inside this novel started to get interesting. I liked how Polly got comfortable in her new surroundings. The small town welcomed her, Adam seemed to be making his own life in this town too and Polly found a job at the High-Ho Bar which led to some exciting adventures. I learned about her past and although I didn’t want to cast Polly in a negative light, her past was awful dark. The ending really surprised me and I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend this novel, it began with a slow burn and then grabs you in.
Victoria Wood More than 1 year ago
Sunburn is a novel about a woman who has found a way out of her tumultuous life so she can save herself and the ones she loves. Only one person makes it out alive. In the end everyone else is dead. Every time you think you’ve figured Polly out you are wrong. With every page you are burning to figure out the web of lies woven between Polly and Adam. Is their love real? Can they survive the truth? All the lies, betrayal, fraud, theft, failed marriages, blackmail, and murder. They each have a goal of their own but no one is willing to tell. As the characters motives are slowly revealed it becomes difficult to figure out who is pulling the wool over the others eyes. You don’t know who to believe or trust. This is a slow burn – but I did not figure things out ahead of time. I never saw that ending coming. This is my first Laura Lippman book and I really enjoyed it – wholly satisfying, intriguing and unpredictable. I rate this – 4.5 stars
Karen-M More than 1 year ago
If you were physically abused, if you felt helpless and hopeless, just how far would you go to save yourself? Polly figured out just how far she would go to save herself and those she loved but would she continue down that path? Every time you think you understand Polly you find out that you’re wrong. So many lies between Polly and Adam and yet the strong attraction is there. Polly has a history and Adam believes he knows what it is until he finds out he doesn’t. There were moments I could understand, or thought I did, why Polly did what she did but there were almost as many that puzzled me until the end. This complex and at times perplexing story is so well written that it really was a pleasure to read. Laura Lippman has woven a tangled story of love, hatred and hope. I received this ebook from HarperCollins via BookPerk in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story would make a great movie!
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Suspense writer Laura Lippman is best known for her crime novels set in the city of Baltimore. The city is as much of a character in her novels as the people she writes about. Her newest novel, Sunburn, leaves Baltimore for the small beach town of Belleville, Delaware, a tourist town that booms during the summer months, and reverts to its small town ways the rest of the year. A town Polly describes as "put together from other town's leftovers." While passing through town Polly stops into the High-Ho tavern and decides to get a job there as a waitress. Polly has just abandoned her husband and three-year-old daughter while on a beach vacation. What kind of woman does that? Adam wanders into the High-Ho and gets a job as a cook in the kitchen. He has a reason for being there too- he is watching Polly for a client. Who is the client? Is it Polly's abandoned husband? Slowly we get more information about Polly. She has a past, and many secrets to hide. She is adept at manipulating people to do what she wants, without them even knowing that they are doing it, and being grateful to help her. Trouble begins for Adam when he falls in love with Polly. He struggles with his secrets, with his sense of responsibility to his client. Even with what he knows about Polly, he stiil loves her. Polly has fallen in love with Adam too. Their casual affair becomes serious and then deadly when a death occurs in the town. Was it an accident or murder? Lippman is at the top of her game with Sunburn. Her inspiration for Sunburn is the work of fellow Baltimore native James M. Cain, whose classic novels include Mildred Pierce, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Double Indemity. Lippman includes elements from all three novels in her story- an insurance man, illicit lovers, manipulative women, even the restaurant angle- and are all brilliantly woven together in this spellbinding novel. Sunburn is the perfect book to take on vacation; I read it on a three-hour flight from Florida to New York, and never looked up once until we landed and I had finished the book. The ending is a stunner! Polly is a fascinating character, as she "fixes her gaze on the goal and never loses sight of it". The big question is what exactly is Polly's goal? Crime noir is frequently the purview of male protagonists, so it is intriguing to have a femme fatale running the show. Sunburn is easily one of the best novels I have read in recent memory, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries and good fiction.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Sunburn by Laura Lippman is an excellent, very highly recommended novel of psychological suspense. Written in the traditional noir style of writer James M. Cain, this novel is full of dark secrets, passion, and betrayal. Set in 1995, Polly and Adam meet at the High-Ho tavern in Belleville, Delaware. Both claim to just be passing through when they first meet, but both find jobs at the tavern and stay. Neither Polly nor Adam is who they say they are; both have secrets and a private agenda. They are attracted to each other, but keep their distance, staying guarded and alert, but focused on the other. Fate determines they will become lovers. Polly was on beach vacation in Fenwick, Delaware, with her husband, Gregg, and three-year-old daughter, Jani, when she walked out and left them both behind. What kind of woman leaves her husband and daughter behind? Adam knows a bit more about Polly than Gregg does. Adam has been told about her past, hired to find her, and figure out what she is doing. Both have secrets and are playing a game, but one of them is playing a long con and murder may be an option. Superb, excellent, outstanding! Lippman's skillful writing shines in this sophisticated, twisty, satisfying noir, full of secrets, past and present, and mysteries. Sunburn is perfectly plotted and will gripe you from the beginning to the end. Readers will not know who or if they can trust any of these characters. There is betrayal, revenge, lust, and murder, but where does the truth rest? The mystery will grip you while you try to figure out what these people are planning. And the characters! Lippman shines in her ability to portray these characters. They are all so well-developed - nuanced, complicated, mysterious, finely layered, conflicted. Certainly Polly is an unreliable narrator and unlikable, or is she? Adam has his secrets, but does he know the truth? Can we trust what they are revealing, or do we need to seek what they aren't saying? Even the supporting cast of characters is wonderfully realized. I enjoyed Sunburn from start to finish. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
From the publisher: Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals - - and cold-blooded murder. One is playing a long game. But which one? They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays - - drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Part One of this book, headed “Smoke” [Part Two is headed “Fire”] finds Mark, 38 years old, who spots Polly, “a [sunburned] redhead well into her thirties . . . sitting on a barstool, forty-five miles inland, in a town where strangers seldom stop on a Sunday evening.” They are both in a bar-slash-restaurant, the High-Ho. He is a handsome private detective, guy who, in his downtime, likes to hunt deer [“Bow and arrow] who takes a job as a short order cook at the High-Ho. The redhead who has grabbed his attention takes a job there as a barmaid. When he asks for her name, the response she gives him is Polly Costello. The reader soon discovers that she is also Pauline, who has left her husband and three-year-old daughter. She and Gregg had met when she was 31, married quickly when she discovered she was pregnant, but the marriage went bad just as quickly when his abusive nature became very apparent. Her name had been Pauline Ditmars, then Pauline Hansen when she married Gregg, then Pauline Smith when she left him and their daughter. Now living as Polly Costello. One night soon after “a short, squat woman with a butch haircut” comes into the High-Ho and Mark knows instantly that “she’s a private investigator and that she’s looking for the woman who’s calling herself Polly Costello.” Since that’s what he himself is doing there. Both the woman, Sue, and Mark have each been hired to track her down. Although a risky plan, Mark and Polly very shortly become intimately involved. Mark has been hired to find the woman who left her husband [a dirty cop, btw] and her child “in the lurch” then stole money from the kid when the guy died, and disappeared with the life insurance. So no one here has a clear conscience. But when Polly’s friend, Cath, goes to Polly’s apartment looking for her, and dies when the apartment blows up, there is a lot for the ensuing investigation to find. No one here looks very innocent. The novel is but the latest where the reader gets to know the characters, to the point where one would like to meet her/him off the page, in real life as it were, and get to know them better, such a wonderful job having been done by this author in their creation. The same could be said about this book as a whole, keeping the reader turning pages more and more quickly. Highly recommended.
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: Men have always done things for her… It is a special art, asking people to do things, yet making it seem as if you never asked at all… but it’s the skill she was given, the hand she has to play. Cath couldn’t find her way out of a room with no walls. In her black dress, black gloves, and retro heels, she looks like Joan Crawford or Bette Davis. She feels like them too. Tough, yet brittle. That’s the thing about being really hard. When you do break, you shatter. My Review: I was immediately sucked into the powerful vortex of this enthralling and cleverly paced tale. Written from the third person omniscient point of view, the storylines were fully textured, multi-layered, and ingeniously crafted. The characters were all hues of shady and mysterious while endlessly fascinating and alluring. But Ms. Lippman’s superlative writing tops all other elements as it was first class and kept me riveted and resentful of interruption. I despised the need for sleep and begrudgingly put my book down only when necessary. This author is a recent discovery for me and I am greedy to amass and hoard all of her mesmerizing arrangements of words.