Book Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted August 14, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

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

A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Genres: Thriller
Published by Berkley Books on December 3, 2019
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel’s Enigma, Shards of Hope, “Fairy Balloons”, "An Unexpected Guest”, Allegiance of Honor, "The Song of the Wolf", Silver Silence, Archangel’s Heart, Archangel’s Viper, Ocean Light, "Elena's School of Horror", Cherish Hard, "Ain’t No Party Like A Bear Party", Archangel's Prophecy, "One Night At The Refuge", "Secret Things", Rebel Hard, Rock Hard, Wolf Rain, "Clean and Dirty", "Wolf School", "Naya’s Most Important Visitors", "Grocery Shopping", "A Gift for Kit", "Movie Night", "Kaleb and Sahara’s Meeting with Sascha and Lucas", "Housewarming at the Orchard", "Christmas in the Kitchen", "Stalking Hawke", "Romancing Drew", "Sunday Morning", "Rowan", "Baubles & Ben", Wild Embrace, Love Hard, Rock Addiction, "Music Awards", Rock Courtship , "Rock Courtship Memo"s, Rock Redemption, "Sunshine", Rock Wedding, "With This Memo", "Beary Tiny Ghosts", Alpha Night, "A Wedding Breakfast", "Poker Night", "Knives and Sheaths", "Seedlings", "Star Kissed", "A Walk on the Cliffs", "Wild Cat Blues", Slave to Sensation, Caressed by Ice, Visions of Heat

A standalone thriller set on New Zealand’s South Island on the west coast where Anahera Rawiri returns to lick her wounds.

My Take

Ooh, Anahera is not happy, and she’s willing for that cop to know it. Wow. Talk about belligerent! Nor is this girl shy. And I’m not sure this was believable. Sure, she has to have the courage to step out onto a stage to play, but that’s not the angle Singh was emphasizing. Instead Singh played up Ana’s hatred of lying while calling attention to the bullying, the animosity she felt toward Will, which I didn’t understand.

It’s both the today and the past of this core group of friends, as Ana looks back over her childhood and the life she had with Edward. Comparing, wondering, angry. Friends, two of whom are the heads of rival rich families. One is on track to become prime minister while the other thinks he owns the town. The thuggish friend who’s probably the best educated in town. The best friend and her new friend. Yes, a mostly character-driven story with the action an aside that brings out even more about the people in A Madness of Sunshine.

I gotta say, I would have liked to know just how it is that the Bakers and Mays were so wealthy, other than Singh telling us.

Singh is using a third person dual protagonist point-of-view from Ana’s and Will’s perspectives, as we hear their thoughts and understand their emotions. Overall, there’s the warmth of Ana’s friends and neighbors of all ages with tales of abuse closely woven in. The childhood memories she has of her parents — the good and the horrible. The memories Ana has of the friends alive now and how they’re living. Will focuses strictly on the case that went so wrong.

Singh incorporates Maori culture quite naturally into the story, educating us and bringing color in, even as she slips in Ana’s and the townspeople’s backstories, setting us up for the hunt for the missing woman. Although, what was with that stupid Matilda? She knows her boyfriends are trying to hit on her niece, and she doesn’t do anything??

Part of the backstory is more of a current one, as Ana learns about the economic positives of her old hometown. People who will step up when needed, concerned for one of their own. Easygoing yet with tempers.

It’s softly scary and made my heart hurt for Miri’s future. The one I wanted her so badly to embark upon, even as I wanted to know more about Ana’s life in London. It’s a life that Singh hints at here and there, just enough to keep me intrigued and hoping I’ll learn more.

The pace was fast and slow, all at the same time. That life Ana had in London and as a musician with Edward and the bits and pieces about Will’s traumas were just droplets of info that drove me nuts. I wanted to know more. Then we do learn more, about the past in Golden Cove, but that too was just slices of the past, filling in the back history of Ana’s friends and the town, the mystery of the missing women, Ana’s memories of her mother. Dribbling out those bits and pieces to keep me reading.

You can’t fault Singh for being detailed, although these particulars are simply extras that don’t add a lot to the story, they do make it richer.

In the end, it’s all about doing the right thing.

The Story

It’s a betrayal like no other that sends Anahera Spencer-Ashby flying home to a small settlement on the savage West Coast of the South Island, populated by all the remembered faces.

There have been changes, but Golden Cove is mostly the same, in spite of the ghost of Ana’s mother lingering in her memories. But a woman’s disappearance brings back other, less savory memories of another time when women went missing.

The Characters

Anahera Rawiri Spencer-Ashby is a famous concert pianist — Angel is her professional name, although that’s not the focus of A Madness of Sunshine. Edward Spencer-Ashby, a playwright and businessman, is her now-dead husband. Haeta had been Ana’s beloved mother with a dressmaking business. Jason is her abusive and alcoholic father.

A highly decorated policeman, a hotshot cop with good instincts, who’s now too senior to fire, Detective Will Gallagher has been put to pasture as the area’s sole-charge policeman.

Golden Cove is…
…Anahera’s hometown and not big enough for a mayor; a business council handles that job. Evelyn Triskell is the chairwoman; her husband, Wayne, is in a wheelchair. Greymouth is the closest big town.

Josephine “Josie” Wilson Taufa is Ana’s best friend who owns the local café. Tom Taufa, the town plumber, is the man Josie had wanted, and they have Niam, their son, with Josie expecting another.

Miriama “Miri” Hinewai Tutaia, brought up by her Aunt Mattie (Atarangi Matilda Tutaia) after her mother, Mattie’s sister Kahurangi, died of an overdose, works at Josie’s café. Her future bright, there’s Dr Dominic de Souza, the new town doctor who took over from Dr Wong, so madly in love with Miri. Steve is Aunt Mattie’s jerk of an unemployed boyfriend. A much earlier boyfriend, Fidel Cox, had tried to molest Miri back in the day.

They had been close once. Nikau Martin who had married Keira, who divorced him soon enough to marry the betraying Daniel May, whose father had been so proud that the family history could be traced back to the first settlers. Keira’s parents thinking she’s the soul of her dead brother, Keir. Josie and Tom. Vincent “Vin” Baker who followed the family rules, marrying the South African Jemima who adores her husband. Jasper and Chloe are the Bakers’ children. That prat, Kyle Baker, is Vin’s “golden boy” brother.

Today’s fishermen include Kev; Tamati; and, Boris, a backpacker from St Petersburg who decided he liked Golden Cove. Shane Hennessey is an Irish writer who chooses young women to mentor at the retreats he holds at the old Baxter place. Tania “Tans” Meikle is married to Gary who works the long-range fishing trawlers; Alice is Tans’ teenage sister. Lisa is a friend of Alice’s. The elderly Pastor Mark is a good man. Te Ariki is Ngaio’s boy, Miri’s first boyfriend, and now a fisherman. Peter Jacobs is back from his own travels and the owner-mechanic at the local garage; he has a younger brother who works with him. Christine Tierney is a schoolteacher in the next town over. The lonely Mrs Keith is rumored to offer certain services. A military veteran, Matthew Teka is one of the old-timers, a hunter with some vicious dogs who supplies restaurants. I think Piri is a fellow hunter. Susan Perdue is of another generation who has become interested in organic produce. Glenda Anderson works the tourism center. Julia Lee makes amazing cakes; Cupcake is her bulldog. Her parents, Shan and Pat, own the supermarket. Claire and Mika are teen sisters. Raewyn Clark is one of Mattie’s neighbors; Hem is Raewyn’s husband.

Non-local Law Enforcement
Detective Robert, who had worked with Will in the past, and his partner come up to investigate the bones. Detective Kim Turnbull gets assigned to Will on the drowning. Dr Ankita Roshan is the forensic pathologist in Christchurch.

Hamish is a lawyer friend of Will’s. Daniella Hart had been the idiot mother of Alfie, the boy to whom Will had made promises. Ava is her father’s clerk, Shannon and Aaron Chen are twins, and Siobhan Genovese are all involved in the jewelry trade. Dr Richard Symon is Miri’s doctor. Catherine, a lawyer, is Jemima’s oldest sister.

The Cover and Title

The cover is so joyful in its bright oranges and yellows, a huge fern frond in the lower left sweeping Miri along on her run. There’s an info blurb at the top in white with the author’s name below this. The title begins at Miri’s bare shoulder, one word per line centered down the lower half of the cover with a slight gradation moving from white to yellow.

The title is about a young woman whose life is ahead of her, a woman filled with joy, radiating sunshine wherever she goes, “a shining creature who could make a man fall so deep”, for she’s A Madness of Sunshine.

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