Stranger at Sunset, Eden Baylee
Stranger at Sunset, Eden Baylee
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
This is a bit of a departure for me, a thriller without any romantic element. A fun read though, and one which had me wondering “who, why?”
It starts with us meeting the characters staying Sunset Villa, along with the owners and staff. They’re a mixed bunch – I loved peppy Jessica with the obnoxious boyfriend Rob, and of course Adam, very typical Alpha confident man. Kate and her three letters of name characterisations was interesting, and it was fun seeing her predictions of the types play out. Kate herself is quite closed, she’s a psychiatrist but keeps her own self very hidden while skilfully drawing out others. She’s a major player in the novel, and we see much of it through her eyes and actions. Of course there’s the obnoxious travel writer Matthew too….
The Villa is struggling, recovering from the expense of the hurricane damage would have been ok, but they’ve also been hit by a big drop in bookings since Matthew wrote a scathing review, and hoping to placate him and show him that his experience was unusual, owners Anna and Nolan have invited him back. He’s got a list of conditions a mile long, one of those people who’ve self diagnosed many intolerances, and it means special food prepared, special treatment of cleaning his room and linens, and he expects other guests and islanders to accommodate him too. One of his gripes is paint fumes from a nearby private property – he claims they exacerbate his problems, and is furious that Anna and Nolan can’t stop the property owners from painting until he is gone. I’ve huge sympathy for them – in my working life as a cleaning contracts manager one of my sites was a small library, only open a few hours a week and with only two hours cleaning time. First the librarian complained as the new cleaner didn’t pull out the weeds lining the path, and I pointed out it wasn’t part of her job, the old cleaner simply did it from goodwill. I suggested the library staff could do it – that met with shock and horror – they certainly couldn’t stoop to that, and they were angry I wouldn’t make the cleaner do it, despite her not getting paid for that. Then the main librarian said she was allergic to spray furniture polish fumes, and instructed that only water be used on the bookshelves, plain water, nothing added. So we did that, but unfailingly every Friday at 2 p.m. as the library opened I’d get a call with complaints, usually along the lines that the cleaner had activated some polish left on the radiators, by wiping them with the proscribed damp cloth. Nothing I could do, and nothing to keep her happy, just as Anna and Nolan here haven’t a hope of pleasing Matthew.
We kind of go through a day to day scenario with little gripes coming up between the guests, and learning more about the background to Anna and Nolan and their staff. Its a real “family” affair with staff being longstanding and loyal, and regarded as part of the family. Then the cracks appear, and we get different guests views about what’s happening…and find out some are more than they seem on the surface, and are prepared to shape events to get the outcome they want. When things heat up its a real puzzle working out who is responsible and why, and I had a couple of people in mind but simply couldn’t decide between them.
Stars: Four, its a compelling psychological thriller, and it was fun looking out for tiny clues to work out the puzzle. Its a one off for me though – I do prefer some romance in my suspense reads.
ARC supplied by author.