Lawrenson, Deborah. 300 Days of Sun. New York: Harper, 2016. 372p. ISBN 978-0-06-239016-5. $16.99, paperback. Fiction
British journalist Joanna Millard has come to Faro in the Algarve region of southern Portugal to escape an annoying boyfriend. There, she meets engaging Nathan Emberlin, who asks for help in finding a man who traffics in children. Nathan has just learned that he was adopted and might have been abducted in Portugal. Joanna’s research leads to Ian Rylands, a retired British civil servant with ties to the intelligence community. Rylands tells Joanna to read Esta Hartford’s 1954 novel, The Alliance, a true story, he claims, with names changed. Presented in excerpts, the novel describes the flight of an American couple from Paris to Lisbon during the early years of World War II and the later kidnapping of their son, who was returned, and then a nephew, their daughter’s two-year-old boy, never seen again. Was Nathan that child? VERDICT As in the The Lantern and The Sea Garden, Lawrenson merges past and present, doubling identities and events to dazzling (and sometimes dizzying) effect. Set against the lush but corrupt coastal resorts of southern Portugal, the novel’s shadowy deeds seem only more dangerous in this sunny clime. While not as intense as Robert Wilson’s Portuguese thrillers, this novel is sure to please those who relish the untangling of crimes in exotic locales.