For many US readers, the name Sabine Durrant is likely an unfamiliar one. It is a real shame as she has been writing some of the strongest psychological suspense novels for years now. This reviewer is partial to Lie With Me, but fans of the subgenre will be more than satisfied with any of her backlist. Fortunately, Sabine Durrant also has a new release for the summer of 2023—Sun Damage.

That’s maybe all I can say about it for practically everything about Sun Damage is a spoiler. Let’s see. Ali and Sean are a couple who survive by conning strangers out of their hard-earned money. They have been perpetuating these financial cons for several years now, ever since Sean took Ali under his wing as his protégé and lover. This summer they are plying their “trade” in the South of France, surrounded by the beautiful, glamorous, and rich marks the vacation hotspot attracts.

But when their latest scam goes horribly wrong, Ali finds herself fleeing and forced to perpetuate the next con solo. She arrives in a small village in Provence where she must assume the identity of a women hired as the chef for nine guests at a luxury holiday home. How long will she be able to keep her true identity hidden when everyone around her is keeping their own secrets—and maybe one of them knows more about Ali then is ideal.

That is the plot in a nutshell and really anything more would be considered too spoiler-ish for a proper review. If you are getting Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley vibes, you are totally on the right track. Ali makes for a compelling narrator and readers will find themselves alternately infatuated and infuriated with/by her. And more than a few people will be able to relate to her escapades.

To make Sun Damage the perfect summer vacation read, Sabine Durrant makes the setting a character in and of itself. The descriptions of the South of France and Provence will leave readers longing to book a getaway as soon as possible. The sun-drenched verandas, quaint hotels, and fancy yachts in the early sections narrow down until the single setting of the vacation abode becomes both luxurious and confining as it becomes harder and harder for our heroine to maintain the long con.

There are a few twists toward the end of Sun Damage—the surprises of which will depend on each reader’s familiarity with the tropes of the subgenre. Fortunately, the success of the novel doesn’t rely on these unexpected developments being totally shocking. This is, however, a novel that does require the reader to suspend disbelief to some degree, but that’s all part of the escapist fun of the experience.

Consider Sabine Durrant’s Sun Damage—a paperback original—a vacation in book form. The pages fly by as you bask in the sun rays and watch Ali get herself in and out and in and out and in trouble.

BUY LINKS: Sun Damage by Sabine Durrant

Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.