Sun Damage by Sabine Durrant – Review
By Sandra Callard
There’s nothing like a good thriller for compulsive reading, and I have certainly discovered a good one here – no, not just a good one, an absolutely cracking and brilliant thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole of the two days it took me to read it. I could have happily read it in one day, but life intervened, as it so rudely does.
Sabine Durrant’s Sun Damage is gloriously teasing, and is just about the most exciting and obsessively readable book to have passed through my fingers for eons. Set in the beautiful south of France, the descriptions of the area made me sigh for the sun, but as the story unfolded this clever and original crime story won me over until, in the well known and timeworn manner, I simply could not put it down.
The story is told by the main character in this book, who goes by the name of Ali, as she and her partner Sean arrive in southern France to see how many people they can trick into handing their money over. This can be done in numerous ways and the pair of them are skilled opportunists. They light upon a wealthy looking young woman, Lulu, and begin their first heist. This starts to go wrong and ends up with Sean, accidentally or not, killing the girl. This has never happened before and Ali runs away in fear of Sean, and so the situation worsens as she becomes the target.
Ali takes over the personality of Lulu, uses her case, her money and her name and finds a job in the French countryside with a wealthy family. The fear she feels about Sean is palpable. Will he find her, what will he do if he does, and can she hold her cover?
This is the beginning of an absolute roller coaster of a book, where every page holds a shock, a surprise or a horror, as the fake Lulu tries to lose herself in France. The tension is apparent all the way through the book, with hardly a let up.
Not only does the author bring out the fear of Ali in a truly dynamic way, but her descriptive skills are neatly brought to every page, be it of Ali’s fears or of the beauty of the French countryside and the people living there. The author has achieved an unsettling balance between the brutality that has happened and the beauty and peace that is all around the area, bringing a shockingly new confusion to the reader.
Sun Damage has, unusually, got the attachment of an Epilogue, and it is a really good and unexpected extra to wind up such a fascinating read. The author, Sabine Durrant, has written five previous thriller stories, but this is the first one of hers that I have read, and I will seek out her books in the hope and expectation that they will all be as good as this one.
‘Sun Damage’ by Sabine Durrant is published by Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99 hardback