Book Talk: Sandra Brown, ‘The Crush’
Wick Threadgill is the quintessential beach bum. A former member of the Fort Worth Police Department, he spends his days trying to find absolutely nothing to do except buying fresh seafood for the day’s dinner from fishing boats. Oren, his former partner comes to visit, telling Wick about an unusual murder. Wick tells Oren, “Not my problem.”
After a bit of debate, Oren says, “The perp did the killing within yards of a potential eye-witness but wasn’t seen. Wasn’t heard. As silent as vapor. Invisible. And he didn’t leave a trace, Wick….”
“Wick searched his former partner’s dark eyes. The hair on back of his neck stood on end. ‘Lozada?’”
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Dr. Rennie Newton has had a rough day at the hospital. When she arrives home at her spotless and carefully-arranged apartment, she finds dozens of roses in a vase on her table. She had previously served as forewoman on a jury that found a man “not guilty” of committing murder. After days of wondering about the origin of the roses, she gets a phone call from the man who was acquitted by her jury. Lozada.
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Lozada is a contract killer by profession, but he turns down a lucrative offer because he’s obsessed with Rennie, who he believes deliberately swayed the jury in his favor. Although he is brilliant, he’s also insanely convinced that Rennie is as drawn to him as he is to her. When Wick starts getting chummy with Rennie, Lozada sees him as a rival for Rennie’s affection and determines that Wick must be eliminated.
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Wick, Rennie, and Lozada are the principal characters in Sandra Brown’s “The Crush” (2002, 496 pages), and the story is told through each of their viewpoints. As a surgeon, Rennie is a professional who deserves to become Chief of Surgery at her hospital, but Dr. Howell gets the call. When he is murdered, Rennie becomes a “person of interest” in the eyes of the FWPD. But Wick is convinced that Lozada is the killer. This causes some friction between Wick and Oren, and that results in a brief skirmish between the partners shortly before Lozada sinks a screwdriver into Wick’s kidney.
In my estimation, the plot hinges on the fact that Rennie has carefully developed a very private and structured life, but the bubble in which she lives is penetrated by Wick, who may be in love with her, Lozada who is determined to have her as his next sexual conquest, and the FWPD that maintains a credible suspicion of her.
Ms. Brown’s writing is tight; there are never any loose ends. Like all her books that I’ve read, there’s got to be some steamy romance mixed in with the mystery, but in this particular book, she only dangles that possibility, at least through most of the pages. I’ve enjoyed Sandra Brown’s mystery thrillers for about two decades, and this one is no exception.
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Jim Glynn may be contacted at email@example.com.