Charlotte is a bit of a mess: hard drinker, barely employed, newly single. Her best friend Danielle, though, has it worse. Danielle started using drugs and fell off the map; now she's dead. Sunset City is the noir Houstonians have been waiting for. Compact and taut, Ginsburg carries her heroine (and us) on a fever dream through Houston's seedy underbelly all the way up to its real estate elite. Montrose denizens will have fun spotting local watering holes (West Alabama Ice House, The Harp) and all noir fans will appreciate the drugs, booze, and urban sprawl of this fantastic debut novel. Ginsburg, a poet, writes with grace and swiftness. Highly rec'd!
A taut, erotically charged literary noir set in Houston about a woman caught up in her friend’s shocking murder, and the dark truths she uncovers.
Before the drugs, Danielle Reeves was Charlotte Ford’s most loyal and vibrant friend. She helped Charlotte through her mother’s illness and death, and opened up about her own troubled family. The two friends were inseparable, reveling in Houston’s shadowy corners. But then Danielle’s addiction got the best of her and she went to prison for four years. When she gets out, she and Charlotte reconnect. Charlotte hopes this is a new start for their friendship.
But then, a detective shows up at Charlotte’s apartment. Danielle has been murdered, bludgeoned to death.
Overwhelmed by grief, Charlotte is determined to understand how the most alive person she has ever known could end up dead. But the deeper Charlotte descends into Danielle’s dark world, the less she understands. Was Danielle a hapless victim or master manipulator? Was she really intent on starting over or was it all an act? To find out the truth, Charlotte must keep her head clear and her guard up. Houston has a way of feeding on bad habits and Charlotte doesn’t want to get swallowed whole, a victim of her own anguished desires.
“A hardboiled exploration of the seedy side of Houston with sentences as sharp as a machete.”
“Sunset City is sexy, boozy, poignant and funny, with the excellence of Ginsburg’s writing more than compensating for some fairly thin plotting. Its pathos, rather than twists and turns, that will keep you glued to the pages.”
“Sunset City has all the elements of a hard-boiled mystery: a violent murder, a troubled but sincere protagonist, an attractive detective. . . . And acting almost as a character itself is the city of Houston, the setting for Ginsburg’s foray into exploitation, drugs, and murder.”
“Ginsburg has penned a perfect detective novel for millennials… [and] a fine feminist read.”
“A soulful, sexy, dangerous noir. Ginsburg’s simple plot allows atmosphere to suffuse the story. Ginsburg presents a menu of suspects and drops clues nonchalantly, as if she’s writing a fifth noir, not a first. She has created a page-turner with a pitch-perfect conclusion. Sunset City is poetry noir.”
“A taut, colorful and gritty noir.”
“Sunset City draws from classic noir and hard-boiled fiction, but in its themes and depictions of behavior, updates the genre… Without sacrificing the dark tone of her murder plot, Ginsburg perfectly depicts a blasé and non-judgmental attitude towards sex, drugs and employment.”
“Each chapter is like a new melody in this noir hymnal; a survivor’s lamentation... Ginsburg’s economical use of language kept this slim volume moving, but it was clear that each and every word was carefully chosen to convey the correct tone. The chapters are intense, powerful bursts of writing.”
Ginsburg, a poet, crafts pitch-perfect dialogue and develops Charlotte and Houston with a disarming mix of nostalgic sadness and brutal honesty. A great recommendation for readers who enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects (2006).”
“Ginsburg evokes some palpable moments of grief, exhaustion, and drink- and drug-fueled bad behavior in a novel that’s steamy in both the sexual and atmospheric senses.”
“Melissa Ginsburg’s Sunset City entrances from its first pages. Suffused with longing, regret and a twisty eroticism, it’s a mystery of character as much as crime, and is literary noir at its most captivating.”
“Smart and sexy, sexy and smart, this literary crime novel has it all in. Melissa Ginsburg understands our darkest secrets and desires, and she’s telling what she knows. Get ready, America.”
“In her stunning debut, Melissa Ginsburg has found in Houston what earlier noir writers found in Los Angeles: a dark netherworld of sin, violence, and blighted souls. Sunset City is sexy, disturb-ing, intense, and, at times, movingly poignant.”
“Sunset City suffuses Charlotte Ford’s journey with a lyricism and yearning that elevates its genre. . . . An exciting debut by a crime writer with real heart and wisdom and the language to carry it.”