Book Critique: A Madness of Sunshine

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: The murder, the interrogation of suspects, following the trails and even the solving of the crime - all the elements of a successful formula expertly pulled in for her first thriller, making the reader turn page after page without putting it down.

A Madness of Sunshine is thriller by Nalini Singh published in December of 2019. The plot revolves around a murder investigation in a small town in New Zealand, dredging up forgotten past and darkest corners of human mind. 

This is the first mainstream thriller by Nalini Singh. So far her books were either paranormal romantic fiction or romantic fiction in the five different series she has set her books in. From the day this book was released I have been itching to read it and see how Nalini has come out in a thriller. Finally here is my review.

After a gap of ten years Anahera Spencer-Ashby returns to Golden Cove, a small town on the West Coast of New Zealand. Her return wakes up memories and opens up hidden secrets that she never fathomed to revisit. But now a girl goes missing making the past all the more potent for the only cop of the town, Detective William "Will" Gallagher, to investigate and for Anahera to face them all over again. 

Her first attempt at a thriller, Nalini certainly brought in all the necessary elements for a murder thriller. Yet she bound the murder and mystery to the social evils one sees and ignores everyday - child abuse; spousal abuse; budding psychopathy. In her familiar flair of writing, she ties in all of them together neatly.

Like any other author indulged in writing murder mysteries, Nalini also showed the reader the consequences the families of the killers face, from media, from people, from the neighborhoods they live in, from friends, and from their own families. It was not too hard to share the empathy with those victims, even if they weren't killed by the killers. 

Will and Anahera are so similar and yet dissimilar. That is what made them perfect for the plot. Both having had seen hard truths in life, betrayals where unexpected and with broken hearts, it was only natural that they grifted towards each other. Yet neither weakened the other, instead they only strengthened the other making a strong bond between them. 

Set in New Zealand's West Coast one is bound to hear the language or see the culture and experience the food of the local indigenous people, who happen to be Maori in this case. Nalini uses several bits and pieces of the language and culture of Maori all through her plot. 

Nalini hasn’t left a whole lot of inconsequential details in the plot for them to become main plots in a future book. So there may not be a sequel to this book. However, if Nalini continues in this genre, I am looking forward to read whatever she throws at us next. 

The murder, the interrogation of suspects, following the trails and even the solving of the crime - all the elements needed for a thriller exist making the reader turn page after page without putting it down. Yet, I felt that Nalini made it very simple in the end. A straight forward love gone wrong and crime of passion followed. 

Perhaps in her next thriller she might make it more deep, intense and blood chilling for the readers. However, for the first time writer of a thriller, Nalini brought in her a-game making it a book to pick up by all those mystery lovers. If you haven't yet, go for it. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Miri is dating the only general practitioner in town, Dr. Dominic de Souza.

b. Nalini gives description of Patek Philippe watch in one scene and also the cost of that watch being more than the Lamborghini the owner of the watch owned. I was surprised to hear about such expensive watches and took a gander on their website. Holy molly! The watches are indeed super super expensive and also very very very pretty. **Sigh** Wish I could atleast hold one of them. 

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. Anahera's friends who are closely tied with the mystery in Golden Cove - Nikau "Nik" Martin; Josephine "Josie" Taufa & her husband Tom Taufa with Niam, a 3 yr old & another one on the way; Daniel May & his current wife, Keira, who was Nikau's ex-wife; Vincent Baker, his wife Jemima Baker and two kids, Jasper & Chloe; 

b. Golden Cove Residents - Peter Jacobs, former Formula One Car racer and owns family garage in the town; Shane Hennessey, the writer; Mrs. Keith; Matilda "Aunt Mattie" Tutaia, her boyfriend Steve, & niece Miriama "Miri" Hinewai Tutaia; Christine Tierney, school teacher; Fishing men Te Ariki, Kev, Tamati & Boris; Tania Meikle, her husband Gary & her sister Alice & a toddler; Julia Lee, the local baker; Matthew Teka; Susan Perdue; Evelyn Triskell & her husband Wayne; Kyle Baker; Pastor Mark; Glenda Anderson; Raewyn Clark.

c. Law Enforcement and Support teams on the case - Detective Robert; Detective Kim Turnbull; Forensic Pathologist Dr. Ankita Roshan; 

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 269 Nalini describes a scene where Will takes the detectives on the past cases to the place where the water bottle belonging to the first victim was found. And then he takes them back to the path to another crime scene. But on Pg. 270 when he arrives to that scenes, the detective exclaim again that there is a plaque commemorating the crime scene at the water bottle location. It was a bit confusing at this juncture as to what Will and detectives were looking at the second crime scene. 


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