Book Review: A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

Posted December 28, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones
Genres: Mystery
on April 7, 2020
Pages: 396
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Seventh Grave and No Body, Eighth Grave After Dark, First Grave on the Right, The Dirt on Ninth Grave, Third Grave Dead Ahead, Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, The Trouble with Twelfth Grave, Summoned to Thirteenth Grave

First in the Sunshine Vicram mystery series and revolving around the newly elected Sheriff Sunshine Vicram, who has so many issues. Based in New Mexico.

My Take

It cracks me up that Sunshine never entered the election. Those parents of hers are certainly attached to their daughter, lol. It’s what makes A Bad Day for Sunshine, so very cozy.

It’s so sad that Auri has such doubts about herself, although it appears that she’s “like mother, like daughter”. Yep, she’s been quite the observant little girl.

This quote from the bakery really appeals to me, lol:

“Skinny people are easier to kidnap.

Stay safe.

Eat cake.”

Seems that Sunshine was quite the, um, adventurer in her youth.

It’s something of a reminder for parents to listen to their parents, especially when a child is so persistent in their beliefs.

I’m not feeling that connection Jones harps on about Sunshine obsessing on Levi, who’s giving off such conflicting vibes. There’s also her interest in three hotties in the story.

There’s quite a bit going on in A Bad Day for Sunshine. Auri has her own investigation going even as she tries to live down that label her fellow classmates have laid on her. Internally, she has grave doubts about whether she should even exist. Sunshine’s personal conflict is over her past abduction and her still-existent infatuation for Levi while her professional one is vetting her department and solving several missing person cases. A sub plot involves Levi with Jones inserting all sorts of doubts about him. And, of course, that surprising escaped prisoner.

Oh! I absolutely adore Auri’s classmates’ reactions to those two bullies!! Another crack-up was Sunshine’s resolution for the feud between Madrid and Sorenson, lol.

The point-of-view is primarily third person dual protagonist with the perspectives coming from Sunshine and her daughter, Auri.

Filling in the “blanks”, lol, are those quirky crimes that occur so regularly in Del Sol. A quirky town with some crazy characters and more of their individual crimes that make me laugh. I’m looking forward to the next installment…if only to find out the truth about Levi.

The Story

There is one benefit to returning home…the opportunity to find her abductor, even if Sunshine will have to face the rest of her past.

It doesn’t help that Auri runs into such trouble at her new school while another student is kidnapped and yet another is lost in a raging snowstorm.

The Characters

Sunshine Vicram, previously a detective with the Santa Fe PD, is the newly elected sheriff of Del Sol, New Mexico, the hometown she fled. The fourteen-year-old Aurora “Auri” is Sunshine’s mature daughter. Cyrus (military intelligence) and Elaine (a Vegas showgirl) Freyr are Sunshine’s loving parents. Samson Elio Vicram is/was Auri’s father.

Dark River Shine is…
…at last, a legitimate distiller after decades of running illegal moonshine. There are also those rumors about the southern mafia. Levant Arun “Levi” Ravinder is the head of his notorious family and the best tracker in the state. HIs biological father is said to be a Mescalero Apache. Hailey Ravinder is Levi’s little sister and a nasty piece of work. I do like the high-functioning, disabled Jimmy Ravinder, Hailey’s son and Levi’s nephew. Uncle Clay is an ambitious man. DM. Uncle Wynn is in prison. Uncle Wes died of cancer. Uncle Kubrick “Brick” Ravinder ran off to California.

Del Sol PD
The refrigerator-sized Chief Deputy Quincy Cooper had been Sunshine’s best friend since kindergarten. He still has his mom’s junker, the Yellow Jacket. More deputies include Tricia Salazar; Lonnie Price; Azaria Bell; and, Zee, who had been a sniper for the Bernlillo County Sheriff (and Quincy’s “twin”). Lieutenant Bo Britton is mysteriously missing in action. Officer Buchanan is the K-9 unit with his furry partner, Officer Bones, a cadaver dog. Anita Escobar is both office manager and dispatcher.

Other law enforcement
Deputy Marshals Isabella Batista and her partner Vincent Deleon were called into the St Aubins case. The sexy Special Agent Carter Fields. William Ledbetter is with the state cops and is the incident commander. Jacqueline “Jack” Baumann is a medical investigator from the OMI in Albuquerque. Sheila is one of Jack’s puppies.

Del Sol High School
Corrine Amaia is the administrative assistant. Mrs Ontiveros teaches English I. Mr Jacobs, a.k.a. Coach, is now the school principal. Leo is the carved wooden mascot for the school. Gary Woods is the obnoxious security guard and Coach’s brother-in-law. Mrs Johnson teaches ASL.

Students include the reticent Cruz De Los Santos, who is unreasoningly popular; Lynelle Amaia, who is a bully; the missing Sybil St Aubin, who could be Auri’s new best friend; Liam Eaton, who is a jerk of a jock; Mark; the too-chatty Chastity; Beatrice “Bea”; Raymond; the suspicious Aiden Huang; Jeff; Heathers I and II; Sarah; Caleb; Sammy; David; and, Carla.

The St Aubins are…
…new (and rich) to the area, having purchased a vineyard. Marianna “Mari” St Aubin is Sybil’s mother and a trophy wife; Forest her father. Mari’s parents are quite greedy. Mads Poulsen, a cousin, had known Sybil in Chicago.

The critical Donna Lomas is the mayor. Ruby Moore makes prescient muffins; Theodore is her husband. Doug Pettyfer is a notorious flasher. Mrs Papadeaux objected to his flashing. Mr Madrid is a former railroad worker. Ida Sorenson has a prize rooster, Puff Daddy. Daisy Duke is a call-sign, I think. Richard and Ricky own Caffeine-Wah and are very close friends of Sunshine’s. Mrs Fairborn is a cat lady who confesses to every crime that comes up. Larry owns a Piper. Mr Hughes is a regular customer at Quick-Mart. Melody Hill is desperate and has a son. Jessie is a nurse at the hospital. Joey Bachicha has a hunting cabin.

The exclusive Book Babes is a book club to which Elaine; the secret-keeping Darlene Tapia, who is one of Elaine’s oldest friends; Karen Oxley??; Myrtle, who is an elderly lady who used to work for Dr Raj Finely; and, the unstable Wanda Stephanopoulos, who is a menace belong. Sabrina Lomas is the mayor’s little sister. Myrtle’s grandson is the despicable, and quite corrupt former sheriff, Baldwin Redding. Mr Parks owns the feedstore. Wanda Oxley. Previous sheriffs include Royce Womack, a burly biker who had run the town for decades…and with whom Sunshine had been in love and Herbert Kornel who succeeded Womack and now runs RISE, a rehab center. Phillip Usury died last year; his widow still owns the land the well house is on. Miller Thomas almost drowned when Cruz was nine. Cruz’s dad, Chris, is a deaf mechanic. Quincy thinks Kristen Ulibarri was the reason Sunshine was abducted. Donnie is a hunky bartender. Barbie is an amazing mechanic.

Ramses Rojas, convicted of armed robbery, is an escaped “prisoner”. Poetry “Lettuce” Rojas is his twin brother. Sherry Berkley was missing her underwear. John Penny claimed he was with the gas company in Chicago. Lucky is a liar.

The Dangerous Daughters, a.k.a. the Devil’s Daughters, the Damnable Daughters, the Diabolical Daughters, the Despicable Daughters, are supposedly a group of women who have secretly been running Del Sol since the 1930s. Lisbeth Salander is Auri’s hero. Gentleman Jack had been Sunshine’s hamster. Fred and Tidbit, a monkey, are memories from a zoo field trip.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a white background while the text and graphic are synmbols for Sunshine with their cheerful yellows and oranges. It starts with an info blurb in deep yellow at the very top with the author’s name in the same color just below it. A graphic of sunglasses that are filled with a stereotypical vision of New Mexico’s landscape of mountain, coyote, and cactus. Centered under this is the title in orange with a testimonial in black at the very bottom.

The title is accurate in that it is A Bad Day for Sunshine, although I suspect it should be more like a bad week.

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