I'm a big fan of mysteries. I'm also a big fan of the author Nalini Singh. But up until now the twain did not meet in the same book. Singh, who has written contemporary, paranormal and suspenseful romances (and all extremely well), is venturing into the mystery genre (and returning to her roots in New Zealand) with her new novel A Madness of Sunshine.
Sunshine is set on the western coast of the southern island of New Zealand in the fictional town of Golden Cove. Anahera Rawiri escaped Golden Cove right out of high school, leaving behind a tragic family history. Now at 29 she's been recently widowed and has decided to take stock of her life in the town where it began. Her tiny town hasn't changed much. It's still close-knit and supportive, but also, at times, just darn right intrusive. All of which comes to play when a young woman, beloved by most of the town, goes missing one night after a run. This too, sadly, brings Ana back to the old days, as this latest disappearance mimics the ones that happened before she left town. As she finds herself examining old friendships and the trauma in her own past, Ana forms a reluctant bond with the newcomer in town, police detective Will Gallagher.
Ms. Singh has a gift for setting and tone. Her descriptions of the wild, beautiful but dangerous isolation of her fictional town made me feel like I was there (and immediately had me adjusting my mental itinerary for when I do my dream trip to NZ). I loved the characters that inhabit Golden Cove and the mystery is solid. If there's a flaw here, I'll say it's in the muted, then rushed trajectory of Ana and Will's relationship. Their growing attachment is only a small aspect of the book - this is definitely mystery with a bit of romance added (not a romance) - but that small aspect was the weakest element here. And for all that I love some romance in any book I read, this one would have been even stronger without it (can't believe I just wrote that about a Singh novel!). That said I will eagerly follow the author into her next attempt at mystery if and when she writes it.