The novel opens with a quote from Sigmund Freud, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” This quote is perfect for the novel because it applies in different ways to so many of the characters. The quote is followed by a prologue which was intense and provocative, but with no names given, also elusive. After I finished the novel, I went back and re-read the prologue and saw just how effective it is at setting everything up.
Kate Hampton is a New York City psychiatrist and one of the most interesting characters I have met in a long time. She is richly portrayed with her own issues, extremely smart, a bit quirky, but spot on when she evaluates her fellow vacationers. She is good friends with Sunset Villa’s owners and is dismayed by the effect that a very negative review of Sunset Villa has had on her friends’ business. Even though she is on vacation, she wants to help by finding a way to get the reviewer, who has been asked back for a second visit, to retract his earlier vitriolic and scathing review.
The pacing is excellent, beginning slowly and building to a spine-tingling crescendo. I was totally unable to put the book down, once I’d started it. But even more than the suspense, it was the characters that attracted me. There are a number of unusual and interesting characters staying at Sunset Villa, or working there. The setting was well described, with intriguing aspects, such as Sunset Villa’s location next door to Goldeneye, “a property purchased by author Ian Fleming . . .where he dreamt up his famous James Bond character and wrote his novels.”
Lovers of psychological mystery thrillers are sure to get hooked on this one. Kate Hampton is such a complex character that her very presence makes this story something special. Stranger at Sunset may be the author’s first venture into mysteries (she is know for her literary erotica), but I sincerely hope it isn’t her last. I look forward to more mysteries with Kate Hampton.
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