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Book Talk: Sandra Brown, ‘Play Dirty’

I’ve read only a fraction of the 70 novels that Sandra Brown has written since she started her successful career in 1981, and I’ve never been disappointed by any of her stories, but out of her several novels that I’ve read, I’d rate “Play Dirty” (2007, 535 pages in paperback edition) as the best so far.


The complex plot is easy to follow because there are only four key characters: Griff Burkett, one-time star quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys; Foster Speakman, multimillionaire business mogul, paraplegic, and owner of SunSouth Airlines; Laura Speakman, Foster’s wife, who holds an MBA and has developed a plan to expand the airline business; and Rodarte, initially a shady character who gradually emerges as a psychopathic detective with the Dallas Police Department.


The story opens with Griff’s release after serving five years in prison for throwing the game that would have sent the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. He’s universally hated throughout Texas, and especially by Rodarte, who vows to see him back behind bars or dead. This point is driven home when Griff visits Marcia, a prostitute who is also a friend. After Griff leaves her apartment, Rodarte rapes her and beats her so badly that she requires many surgeries and months of rehabilitation.

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