“A Madness of Sunshine” by Nalini Singh – a crime novel set in New Zealand

Nalini Singh is best known to me for her excellent fantasy novels of which I own quite a few. I like her imagination and also the characterisations in her books. I was surprised, therefore, when I read A Madness of Sunshine, a novel that I probably picked up on an Amazon 99p sale without really thinking about it, to discover that the novel is actually a crime story set in the author’s homeland of New Zealand. I was also delighted to discover that it is a very good crime novel.

I haven’t read a lot of novels set in New Zealand but this is a strong and satisfying crime novel set in a small town. A successful concert pianist returns home to the isolated cabin that she grew up after she is widowed and she discovers that her husband had not been the person she thought he was. She doesn’t want to be there because the town has sad memories of the death of her mother and an abusive childhood but she has a friend there and she understands the landscape and the people. She sees it as an escape.

A beautiful young woman with plans for the future vanishes and memories are stirred up in the community of three female backpackers who disappeared many years ago. Are the missing women connected in some way ? Pressure is on the local, sole police officer who accepts help from anywhere he can.

The theme of the book is that although everything seems to be known about everyone in a small town that actually everybody has secrets. During the period of the story a number of secrets come to the fore and characters learn things about the past of which they weren’t previously aware – some are relevant to the investigation and some less so. The ending of the book, when more secrets are revealed is also satisfying. I liked learning more about the landscape of New Zealand and also thought that the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town was well conveyed.

This is a standalone novel which I definitely recommend. It’s a well plotted and entertaining novel with good characterisations and an excellent landscape. If you do enjoy it, the author has also written some pretty good fantasy novels as well which you might like to explore.

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