Monday, February 19, 2018


Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working full-time and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001.

Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.

Lippman applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Sunburn, and reported the following:
Page 69 in Sunburn is a fight scene, a brief one. A woman's estranged husband approaches her as she walks home from work in a small town. He has a gun, but the man with the woman, a co-worker, knocks down the husband and stomps on his hand until he breaks a bone.

The woman finds this very exciting. By page 71, she and her defender will be having sex.

Sunburn is an homage to several works by James M. Cain. Although the scene on page 69 wasn't intended to reference any particular scene in Cain's work, I realize now that it tracks, a little, with what is known as the "Rip me" scene in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Secret lovers Frank and Cora are trying, for the second time, to kill Cora's husband. They stage a car accident. They become so excited that they end up having sex. It's a pretty memorable scene, to risk understatement.

The not-yet-lovers in my novel are not planning to hurt anyone. Adam is an honorable man, for the most part. Polly has a much darker past, yet to be revealed at this point in the story. They have been fighting their attraction to one another for almost every one of the 69 pages. Polly is excited not by the violence, but the gallantry. No man has ever stuck up for her before.

But the last line on page 69 has nothing to do with sex. Her estranged husband asks: "What about the money, Polly?" Polly, as has been established, likes money. Sunburn is the story of how far she'll go to get it.
Visit Laura Lippman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue