A new direction for paranormal romance author Nalini Singh…
I participate in the Mobile Read forums and many of the folks in the romance subforum rave about Nalini Singh’s paranormal romance books. So I was excited when I got a chance to review an advance copy of one of her titles. Then I found out that A Madness of Sunshine is a contemporary suspense/mystery, which seems to be a new direction for her. No problem, I thought – to be honest, I read a lot more mysteries than paranormal romance, and so this should be right down my alley.
Well, it was, and it wasn’t.
I tend to like books with a strong sense of place, and A Madness of Sunshine definitely has that. It’s set in a remote region of New Zealand that is described so wonderfully that I hope to visit there someday. I also tend to enjoy mysteries with a good “case”, and Singh did a nice job linking the killing in the present to events in the past. (Not a spoiler, since the ties to the past are obvious early on, but it’s the details that matter…) This leant almost a bit of a police-procedural element to the book, and I pretty much always enjoy following along as folks, whether they are actually police or not, decipher clues and figure things out.
However I also had a few problems with the plot. I understand that small towns can have dark secrets, but in this case, it seems as if the pretty much the whole town has secrets, and it was hard for me to believe that so much evil was floating around in one place. Singh seems to try to make the case that the original evil years ago warped everything, which could be true. Keeping secrets definitely can lead to more secrets and more problems. But to me, she didn’t quite manage to sell it. It isn’t a major fail – I still enjoyed the book and read it in only a couple of sittings. But it was sort of a nagging annoyance that persisted as I read.
I debated for a long time about whether to give A Madness of Sunshine 3 or 4 stars, but luckily, here on my own blog, I can give it 3½ stars, so I did! I think there are traditional mystery authors who could have done this story better. But I did enjoy Singh’s writing enough that I will still probably try some of Singh’s paranormal romance novels someday. And perhaps she’ll grow into the mystery thing.
Finally, I’d like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher, Berkley, for the review copy.