#Book Review #A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

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.

(From the book blurb)

******

My thoughts:

This is my first book by this incredibly talented writer, so I had very few, if any, expectations. I was swept away by the beauty of descriptions of the West Coast of New Zealand:

.…She stood on a jagged cliff looking out over the crashing sea below as fog wove through the treetops, a light misty rain falling and dissipating before it ever got to her...

Nature plays such a prominent role in this novel that it is impossible not to mention how it foreshadows the events in the book and amplifies already strong emotions. It is ‘primal and untamed‘, it is one of the protagonists of this masterfully-crafted mystery and thriller.

Anahera Spenser-Ashby Rawiri returns to her home town of Golden Cove after eight years of absence, a successful career as a classical pianist and the death of her handsome, elegant and cheating husband. The first lines were shocking and memorable, and set the tone of the whole story:

She returned home two hundred and seventeen days after burying her husband while his pregnant mistress sobbed so hard that she made herself sick. Anahera stood stone-faced, staring down at the gleaming mahogany coffin…

Anahera, whose name means ‘Angel’ in Maori, is a fascinating character and you gradually discover how her strength and hardness are the result of tragic experiences in her childhood and adolescence. You also discover that she is fiercely loyal, kind, and proud of her Maori heritage.

Will is a decorated police officer who got sent away from Christchurch and is now serving as the one and only policeman in Golden Cove. He takes his job seriously and is liked by the locals, although it will take a long time for the people of Golden Cove to accept him and stop treating him as an outsider. The ghost of a little boy he promised to protect and failed to save from the fire set by his violent and abusive father is haunting Will and making sure he won’t leave a stone unturned when a local girl goes missing.

Nineteen year old Miriama is slender, graceful and radiantly beautiful. It is always difficult to write a character destined to become a victim of the crime that drives the plot. Make him/her too likeable and the reader’s heart is going to be broken. Make them too generic, and the reader isn’t going to feel invested in the story. Miri is blessed with her looks and is admired and courted by many men, both local and passing tourists. Her mother died of an overdose and the little girl grew up with her aunt Matilda, who, unfortunately, has the worst taste possible in men. Miri is repeatedly described as sunshine, full of life, and aroha (love), but her story is not a happy one.

When Miri goes for a run, wearing bright running clothes, and fails to come back home, Will leads first the search party and then the police investigation and finally solves the mystery, not only of Miriama’s death, but also the cold case of three female hikers who disappeared fifteen years ago in a similar way.


There are plenty of suspects, as well as plenty of secrets that run ‘like a thick tide of lava beneath the surface‘. At some point, it seemed that almost any man in the town could have committed this crime, but Will, who is ‘relenless, like water on rock‘, is added by Anahera’s insight into the past and present life of the locals, as well as her empathy and ability to talk to people who share their secrets with her, safe in the knowledge she will always be on their side.

There is romance between the two hard, life-beaten protagonists, but mostly A Madness of Sunshine is a mystery, trying to piece together what exactly happened to crush the young and innocent life of Miriama.

Whether you are a fan of Nalini Singh or new to this author, and are just looking for a thriller set in New Zealand, this unique story has a lot to offer.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Haveyou read A Madness of Sunshine or is it on your tbr?
  • Have you read any other books by Nalini Singh?

Join the Conversation

17 Comments

    1. Thank you, Shaina! I’ve read this one twice, first time to find out who killed Miri as quickly as possible, and then one more time to enjoy her writing style. I’m glad you already have her books on your tbr, she’s definitely worth checking out🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have never read a book by this author, but have read plenty of wonderful reviews on her books. I will have to give one a try. This sounds like a beautifully written mystery with some great character development. Wonderful review Toni.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I ADORE Nalini Singh’s psy-changeling series but haven’t tried this one. It’s been on my radar for a while though. I’m keen to give it a try, especially as it has west coast NZ setting 💕 books set there always give me a feeling of being back home. I also love the inclusion of Maori heritage. I’m adding this one to my TBR. Awesome review! 😄

    Liked by 2 people

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