‘A Good Day For Chardonnay’, the second instalment in the adventures of Sunshine Vikram as Sheriff of the small New Mexico town of Del Sol carries straight on from ‘A Bad Day For Sunshine’ and was just as much fun. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it kept me reading because I wanted to know what happened next.
For me, this is a button-pressing book. One that’s going to hit my emotions even when I know it shouldn’t. Like the best versions of a stirring rock anthem, or a bouncy pop-song or a gut-wrenching ballad, it reaches past my always-over-analaysing-things brain, plugs straight into my endocrine system and makes the hormones flow.
The humour and most of the descriptions are highly stylised, like screen-printed art that restricts itself to a palette of three bright colours and two-dimensional images and uses those restrictions to increase the power of the image. The people aren’t real. I like them. I root for them. But I know that they’re too perfect to be human. Meeting them would be like having a beer with The Avengers or taking a coffee with the Gilmore Girls at Luke’s Diner. It would feel weird because these are characters that we love because we want them to be better than real life.
The humour in this book sparkles most of the time, although I felt that it went on a little long at the start of the book. Personally, I could have lived without the raccoon. I’m also sure that, for some people, the racoon is one of the highlights of the book. Darynda Jones writes for a broad kirk.
But this is more than a humorous mystery peppered with snappy dialogue served up with a side of sass. It’s a book that has abductions and murders and knife fights and gunfights and things blowing up. It has gangsters and serial killers and deeply hidden family secrets. Darynda Jones squeezes the juice from every plot twist, creating tension and curiosity without crossing over the line to threat and fear.
Sunshine and her daughter are each following a dangerous and sometimes covert path of investigation and Levi Ravinder, Mr tall dark and dangerous, is at the heart of the action. I loved watching Ari work her way through the crime in theory versus crime in practice and discovering the consequences. I liked that we finally learned what really happened to Sunshine when she was abducted as a teenager. The inevitable sex scene finally arrived and wasn’t too awful as these things go. One of the things I liked most was finding out more about The Dangerous Daughters, the secret society mentioned in the first book that allegedly runs the town.
I listened to the audiobook version narrated by the inimitable Lorelei King. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.