Saturday, June 11, 2011

Meet Author Sandra Brown

Meet author Sandra Brown, read her biography, then browse some  of her best work: The Alibi, Fat Tuesday, French Silk, and Tough Customer.

Sandra was born on March 12, 1948 in Waco, Texas and raised in Ft. Worth. She is nothing if not serious when it comes to her work. As the oldest of five daughters, she was a responsible and mature girl, and always chose to read a book rather than play with dolls. Her responsible nature stayed with Sandra as she graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in English, and in her job as a contributing feature reporter at the nationally syndicated PM Magazine in Dallas. When the show experienced mass layoffs, however, Sandra found herself out of work.

She married Michael Brown, former television anchorman and award-winning documentarian of Dust to Dust, and returned to Ft. Worth. They had two children, Rachel and Ryan. Though she continued in her occasional position as a showroom model in Dallas, her husband encouraged her to try fiction writing while their children were at school. He had just left a career as a news anchor and talk-show host to form his own production company, so why shouldn't she take a creative risk, too?

Within a year Sandra sold her first novel, Love's Encore, under the name Rachel Ryan (taken from the first names of her two children). Soon thereafter, she was producing a succession of books for six different publishers, culling ideas from briefs in USA Today, television shows, and her own active imagination. She wrote two boosk as Laura Jordan and several books for Harlequin under the name Erin St. Claire.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1981, she has penned well over sixty books. Sandra has over fifty million copies of her books in print, and has achieved some major feats on what is perhaps the most highly regarded bestseller list of all--that of the New York Times. Since 1990, every one of Sandra's novels has appeared on the list. In total, her books have appeared on the prestigious list over thirty times.

The Alibi

Mixing a little murder, some corruption, and a good bit of illicit romance, this novel makes the golf courses of Charleston, South Carolina, seem as seedy and fascinating as the back alleys of Chinatown.

For years Hammond Cross has proven himself to be a man of high principles and irreproachable character. The murder of one of Charleston's most powerful citizens gives the ambitious prosecutor his chance to become the city's next district attorney - if he wins the case. But the prime suspect turns out to be a mysterious woman with a secret that could shatter Cross's ambition.

When his investigations turn up evidence of the corruption of local tycoon Lute Pettijohn, Hammond has no doubt about what is the right thing to do--even when his own father is under suspicion. However, this simple debate becomes complicated when Pettijohn is murdered and Hammond's alibi is a night of forbidden passion with the suspected murderess, Dr. Alex Ladd.

Brown's quick dialogue, character quirks, and plot twists help give a modern bent to the classic detective tale. While some of the characters prance across the pages with a predictability that would make Dashiell Hammett proud (the drunk-makes-good assistant, the light-hair-dark-history socialite) most of the characters show refreshing individuality. As Hammond's internal conflict intensifies--and the passion and danger do, too--readers will find all criticisms vanishing as they blast their way through this suspenseful page-turner.

Fat Tuesday

Pinkie Duvall is evil, a prominent and powerful lawyer whose clients commit most of the crime in New Orleans. He met his wife when she was a child and had her educated to his requirements. He treats her as he treats his orchids but uses threats against her younger sister to keep her in line. Burke is the "incorruptible cop" who sets out to avenge his buddy's death, clean out the bad cops, and get revenge against Pinkie.

Precise details change with the ages, but you can bet that the first story ever written had something to do with revenge. Sandra Brown continues the tradition with her latest brick of a book, Fat Tuesday. After a gruff 'n' tuff New Orleans narc, Burke Basile, mistakenly blows a hole in his partner's noggin, he vows revenge--not only on the thug who was directly involved, but also on the sleazy kingpin behind it all. And in finest cop-drama tradition, he vows to do it outside the law.

Fat Tuesday only begins to cook after Basile turns in his badge and--mixing charm and coercion--enlists various underworld elements in his cause. It's all a little B movie-ish at times, but for every hooker with a heart of gold, there's a fresher character like Gregory, the homosexual hustler who uses his drama degree to Basile's benefit. The villains are bad (can't go wrong with a lawyer), the heroine good, and the hero a big, wounded warrior looking for true love. What's not to like?

French Silk

Televangelist Jackson Wilde targets the catalog of Claire Laurent's mail-order lingerie business, French Silk, as part of his anti-pornography campaign. When Wilde's body is discovered in a New Orleans hotel room, Laurent becomes the number-one suspect in a murder investigation that also involves her mentally distracted mother; her partner, the beautiful model Yasmine; Wilde's wife and son, both working members of his ministry; and a local senator with a shady private life.

Handsome, driven District Attorney Robert Cassidy has a long list of suspects. At the top of it are Wilde's young wife, Ariel, and his son, Josh, who have been having an affair. But soon the main suspect is Claire Laurent, the owner of the lingerie company French Silk, whose sexy catalogue Wilde targeted in his campaign against pornography. Claire had a motive; she had collected and then hidden an extensive file of clippings on Wilde and she had attended his service the night he died.

Cassidy has one problem with fingering her as the villain: he is falling in love with her. Claire, who battles childhood memories of life with her mentally unstable mother, protects herself by building emotional walls to keep him out. Other characters, including Claire's best friend and business partner, Yasmine, guard their own secrets, which may or may not be related to the murder. This fast-paced story will keep readers guessing until the final pages.

In 1992, "French Silk" was made into an ABC-TV movie.

Tough Customer
A new novel from New York Times bestseller Brown, is full of her trademarks: tight plotting, breathless twists, edge-of-your-seat suspense, and sizzle.

Brown’s latest thriller reintroduces a character from her previous outing, Smash Cut (2009): Dodge Hanley, a grizzled investigator who used to be a cop. Dodge is awakened one morning by a call from Caroline King, a woman he hasn’t seen in 30 years—since the day their daughter, Berry, was born. Now Berry is the target of a frightening stalker who has just broken into Caroline’s house and shot Berry’s coworker, Ben Lofland. Dodge reluctantly agrees to travel from Atlanta to Texas to help the police hunt down Berry’s tormentor, the vengeful Oren Starks.

The police deputy on the case, Ski Nyland, is suspicious of Berry and convinced she is hiding something. As Dodge works with Ski to track Oren, his feelings for Caroline resurface, and he recalls how they first met—and the reason their torrid relationship came to an end. Though a late-in-the-game twist seems somewhat farfetched, the draw here is the appealing Dodge, a character Brown fans will have no problem rooting for.

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