Friday, October 24, 2008

Sandra Brown: Smoke Screen

After seeing Sandra Brown awarded an honorary doctorate, I read a randomly selected paperback. I liked it, so now I’ve read her latest, Smoke Screen. (No similarity to a book with the same title by Kyle Mills. This is a mystery. Mills’ book is about the tobacco industry.)

Britt Shelley, a prominent Charleston TV news personality wakes up in bed with Detective Jay Burgess, a police hero. She can’t remember how she got there. Worse, she can’t remember why Jay happens to be dead. Britt immediately falls under suspicion, and can’t offer much defense with no memory of the night.

Years ago, Jay and three others became heroes when they rescued a number of people from a fire when the old Charleston police headquarters burned down. Their hero status helped most of them in their subsequent careers in the police, politics, or commerce.

Jay’s childhood friend, Raley Gannon was investigating the fire. But his investigation was cut short when he was found in bed with a dead woman – in Jay’s apartment. He also had no memory of the event. He was hounded out of the Fire Department by innuendo and suspicion, mostly promulgated by sensationalized reporting by Britt Shelley.

The similarities between their stories makes Raley the only person who believes Britt. But after what she did to his career he is not real fond of her. Sandra Brown brings them together in an alliance to reach the truth in a delightful manner. I won’t describe it, but it’s pretty unique, and it works.

So obviously bad things are going on. And the old police headquarters fire is at the heart of it. We get to see what various potential bad guys are doing while Britt and Raley don’t. But we don’t get enough extra views to reveal various plot twists before their time.

I’ve noticed that Sandra Brown’s characters can be an amorous bunch. And she can get pretty specific as they romp around. But it all fits well with the story.

Smoke Screen is another fun, fast-paced, escapist mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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