After a long career as a police officer, Moira hopes a move to a luxury retirement community will mean she can finally leave the detective work to the youngsters and focus on a quieter life. But it turns out The Homestead is far from paradise.
When she discovers the body of a young woman floating in one of the pools, surrounded by thousands of dollar bills, her crime-fighting instinct kicks back in and she joins up with fellow ex-cops—and new neighbours—Philip, Lizzie and Rick to investigate the murder.
I liked the premise of ‘Death In The Sunshine’. I was hoping for an American twist on Richard Osman’s ‘The Thursday Murder Club’. In terms of the situation, there are a lot of similarities but the way the story is written is quite different.
For some reason, Steph Broadribb decided to write ‘Death In The Sunshine’ in the third person present tense. I found this very distracting. I kept translating it in my head to third person past tense, which seems a more natural way of describing things. I’ve seen third person present tense used in short stories to increase a sense of immediacy and or intimacy but this story doesn’t deliver either of those things. The story feels like it’s being told at arm’s length. Even though each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the main characters, you don’t get inside their heads. It reads like a screenplay with added notes for the actors.
I stuck with the book because I’d hoped that the plot might make up for the storytelling but it hasn’t so far. The choice of tense continues to flatten out the storytelling. The characterisation is minimal. The writing is sparse. The ‘I have a secret that the others mustn’t discover’ stuff is heavy-handed and repetitive.
When I reached the 35% point and realised that I was not even slightly invested in the people or the murder mystery, I decided to abandon the book Life’s too short to struggle through a book that isn’t working for me.