New thriller, coming-of-age novels keep readers in suspense



Wednesday, March 07, 2018


By Laura Lippman

There’s nothing quite like a thriller that embodies everything we love about the noir genre: the mind games, cat-and-mouse chases, forbidden desires, dark pasts and even darker secrets. Literary noir is in a whole realm of its own.

The latest and most anticipated addition to the genre is Laura Lippman’s “Sunburn.”

Lippman is best known for her Tess Monaghan series about a Baltimore reporter-turned-accidental private investigator. “Sunburn,” however, promises to be a dark, provocative and heady new addition to Lippman’s resume.

Polly and Adam meet randomly at a tavern in Delaware, both strangers just passing through. Polly’s headed out West, and Adam's leaving to go somewhere else, too. Yet somehow, they both end up staying, winding into a summer-long affair, full of romance and sex.

The more time they spend together, the more Adam finds himself magnetically drawn to the irresistible redhead. Despite their undeniable attraction to each other, they're both hiding something from the other — something they'd both kill to keep hidden.

Then, a body is discovered. Whether it was an accident or murder, no one yet knows. Everyone is on guard, and people are starting to point fingers. And at the end of the day, how well do Polly and Adam really know each other? But throughout their affair, their lives have become so entangled and ensnared, it’s too late to get away from each other.

What follows is a sharp and brilliantly cunning story of betrayal, cold-blooded murder and a chilling game of cat-and-mouse. For Adam and Polly, one of them is playing the long game, and at the end of the day, something’s just got to give.

“Sunburn” is Lippman at her best. A master of suspense, Lippman knows what makes for an engaging plot, how to craft thrilling mysteries and the key to brilliant intrigue.

— Rachel Fogle De Souza, BookTrib



By Chloe Benjamin


In the summer of 1969, four children from a Jewish family on the Lower East Side of Manhattan visit a psychic and are told the date they will die. Does this information, this prediction, change the way they choose to live?

That question is wrapped in mystery in “The Immortalists,” a story that takes us through each of the siblings’ lives. Author Chloe Benjamin provides us with a mesmerizing story of these rich characters and their choices about how to live.

Simon, the youngest brother, moves to California to live his truth and gets caught up in the sexual revolution of the 1980s. His sister Klara, who is irresponsible in many ways, chooses to become a magician. Daniel, the oldest brother, is conflicted at work; he is a doctor in the army and must give clearance to young men to serve in the military. And Vanya, the second sister, is involved in anti-aging research, as she reduces caloric intake of primates to extend their lives.

We witness the strengthening and deterioration of relationships and hope things will turn out OK. But in the end, do they? Throughout the book, you can’t help but question if the characters’ choices were ultimately made because of the knowledge they received regarding their death.

The book asks readers to contemplate so many things and ask what we think about these questions: Quality over quantity? Do you want to live for a long time, or live well during the time you have? Would you want to know the date of your own death?

Some of what Benjamin writes about is based on her own knowledge and experiences. She grew up in California in the 1980s with a gay parent, a Jewish parent and immigrant grandparents. She was a ballet dancer and her mother was an actor, all of which influenced the book’s setting and characters. She also researched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military, primate research, magicians and magic. The narrative is rich with information, and with each section focusing on a different character, you really got to know them as people, both internally and as the world sees them.

“The Immortalists” offers a lesson about embracing life and trying not to worry about the unknown. It is a balance, like science and religion, to navigate our lives by making choices based on what we know to be true and what we believe is true.

  — Jennifer Blankfein, BookTrib