To Go: 77
21. The First Deadly Sin — Lawrence Sanders
22. Exclusive — Sandra Brown
23. White Hot — Sandra Brown
I just can’t get enough of Sandra Brown! I brought four books with me to read when I came home to get my wisdom teeth out, but as soon as I saw Exclusive and White Hot in Chapters, I bought them and had to read them right away.
In White Hot, Sayre Lynch returns home to Louisiana for the first time in ten years when her younger brother, Danny, commits suicide. When she arrives in her hometown she finds it almost just as she left it: her tyrannical father and her older brother—who run the town’s sole industry, an iron foundry — are as corrupt as ever, using pay-offs and hired thugs to get their way. When the police determine Danny’s death was actually a homicide, Sayre starts looking into her family’s murderous past with the occasional help of Beck Merchant, the family’s lawyer with a private agenda.
White Hot seems to fall back on a lot of the staples that romance novelists adore, but I’ve never found appealing: a near frantic obsession with the southern United States and small towns; a creepy, meddling “matchmaker;” and a reliance on ridiculous, cliche-ridden dialogue. Usually Sandra Brown eschews all of those tropes, but, unfortunately, not in White Hot—though this could be because it’s an older book (I’ve mostly read her newer novels). Fortunately, Sayre (pronounced ‘say-er,’ apparently) and Beck are the novel’s saving grace. They’re driven, relentless characters with depth, who work hard to get what they want—revenge or justice—but remain guided by their moral compasses. Both have pushed themselves to overcome past tragedies, but their lives still revolve around the residual pain.
Brown’s accompanying external conflict took a different turn than usual. While the book marketed itself as a murder mystery-slash-romance, a lot of the story was focused on Hoyle’s maniacal management of the iron foundry; workers’ attempts at unionization; and workplace safety hazards—essentially an H.R. issue. It wasn’t a traditional conflict, but it was, at times, more compelling than Sayre’s attempts to solve her brother’s murder. Although that may have been because the answer to the “whodunnit” question seemed obvious.
As you may have noticed, I’ve been falling behind with reviews. I’m actually up to 29 books, but I just haven’t written up reviews for them because I’m a lazy, lazy woman. If you want a more timely record of what I’m reading, I’d suggest checking out my Goodreads page, which I update regularly. I have to admit, I’m a little bit addicted to that website. Meanwhile, I’ll try to bring this blog up to speed in the next few days.
Next book: The Black Ice — Michael Connelly