5/5 stars on Goodreads
|A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones|
It’s always a source of unease when a favourite author starts a new series. Darynda Jones is the author of the great and brilliantly funny Charley Davidson urban fantasy series of a grim reaper turned private investigator. It ended last year, and now Jones has returned with Sunshine Vicram, a series that has no fantasy elements, but has mystery and comedy aplenty.
A Bad Day for Sunshine is different enough from Charley Davidson books to feel fresh and similar enough to feel like coming home. Biggest change on the outset is the use of third person narrative, with alternating points of view between Sunshine and her teenage daughter Aurora. It worked fairly well, but at times it was impossible to tell who the ‘she’ referred to was. There were also a few annoying dream sequences that started in the middle of ‘normal’ scenes, only to pull the rug under the reader later on.
The book follows Sunshine Vicaram, the new serif of a small town in New Mexico. It's her home town, but she’s been away for years and has only been tricked to returning by her parents who somehow managed to get her elected as the new serif. While she knows the people and places, she needs to reacquaint herself with everything. Her first day at work starts with a bang, or a crash, and goes downhill from there when a young girl goes missing. It brings back memories of her own abduction when she was seventeen, the reason she has left the town in the first place.
The other story-line follows Auri at school. She has her own troubles in the form of bullies and a new crush, and she is eager to help her mother to find the missing girl, which puts her in peril. Sun is a good cop and a quirky mom, Auri is a brilliant but troubled daughter. Together they are a great team and I loved them both.
The main case of the missing girl seems odd on the surface, but turns out to be straightforward enough that I guessed the bad guy surprisingly early on. But that’s not all the book is about. There are all sorts of shenanigans going on around Sun, with weird and quirky characters brightening the day, and amazingly sexy men pouring in from every direction. And none of them is as sexy as Sun’s biggest crush since she was a girl, Levi, who may be the hero or the baddie of Sun’s life. With clues from Sun’s past surfacing towards the end and the mystery of how she was elected a serif when she didn't run still unsolved, the following books should prove to be as interesting as the first.