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Smoke Screen: A Novel Hardcover – August 12, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this scorching if somewhat formulaic thriller from bestseller Brown (Play Dirty), Charleston, S.C., TV reporter Britt Shelley wakes up in bed next to the dead body of police detective Jay Burgess. While Jay had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the authorities suspect foul play. Jay's former best friend, ex-fireman Raley Gannon, suffered a similar shock five years earlier, waking up next to party girl Suzi Monroe's naked corpse after a party at Jay's home. Raley had been investigating a fire at a local police station that took seven lives, despite the heroic efforts of Jay and several other cops, one of whom is now South Carolina's attorney general. Cleared of Suzi's death, Raley eventually teams with Britt to look into a nasty arson coverup. Brown laces her dependable romantic fireworks with a solid action-filled plot, though readers should be prepared for a few stereotypes, including a limp-wristed gay, a macho skinhead and a power-mad female politician. (Aug.)
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"Sensational...a bang-up tale of corruption, betrayal, revenge, and reversal." -- Liz Smith, New York Post

"Excellent indeed." -- The Dallas Morning News


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (August 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416563067
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416563068
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #859,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including MEAN STREAK (2014), DEADLINE (2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011), RAINWATER (2010), TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008) & PLAY DIRTY (2007).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into thirty-three languages.

A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English. Before embarking on her writing career, she worked as a model at the Dallas Apparel Mart, and in television, including weathercasting for WFAA-TV in Dallas, and feature reporting on the nationally syndicated program "PM Magazine."

She is much in demand as a speaker and guest television hostess. Her episode on truTV's "Murder by the Book" premiered the series in 2008 and she was one of the launch authors for Investigation Discovery's new series, "Hardcover Mysteries."

In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.

Brown recently was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer's Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Elaine C McTyer VINE VOICE on August 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got SMOKE SCREEN in the morning from Amazon and I sat right down and read it. I could not put it down. The story is amazing and the characters are great. Sandra Brown has been one of my favorite authors for a while. I have all her books and they are mostly keepers. This one is definitely a keeper.

Britt Shelley is a news reporter for a TV station in Charleston. She made her first big break on a story about the Charleston PD and Fire Dept. An arson specialist with the Fire Dept was found in bed with a dead woman at Jay Burgess's apartment. That was five yrs ago and she and Jay had a short liasion. Jay's friend who was found in bed with the dead woman left town and has not been heard from in all that time. She is not surprised when Jay calls and invites her out for drinks. He has been one of her informants in the PD since the day she met him. She knows he is a player but now they just are friends.

She meets Jay and has a drink while he tells her he has a big story to tell her. He also tells her he has cancer and only a few weeks to live. They go to his apt for some privacy to talk, and imagine her horror to wake up in bed with Jay and he is dead.

Raley Gannon was the friend of Jay's who was found with the dead woman. He not only was disgraced and lost his job he lost his fiance. He has not forgotten the experience. When he hears about Britt's experience it sounds alot like his, because he does not remember anything about how he wound up in bed with the dead woman, when he went to a party at Jay's. He was engaged at the time and very much in love with his fiance. Britt is insisting she has no memories of going to bed with Jay.

Raley kidnaps her and interrogates her about Jay. Finally he tells her what really happened to him.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Vest VINE VOICE on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reporter Britt Shelley awakens next to the corpse of a police detective with no memory of the night before. Accused of murdering Jay Burgess, a decorated police officer cited for bravery after rescuing several people from a deadly fire at the Charleston police station five years earlier, Britt takes to the airwaves and professes that she must have been slipped a date rape drug. Listening to the newscast is former arson investigator Raley Gannon, who while working on the investigation into the police station fire attended a party at Burgesses home and also work up with a corpse with no memory of events. The similarities are chilling. Britt's reporting of the events surrounding the party girl's death resulted in the destruction of Gannon's career. Now with two of the four heroes dead, and Raley and Britt joining forces, a new conspiracy might be brewing, one with a mastermind who is not above murder to cover up the past.

While this is a huge step up from the last novel by Brown, I am still on the fence from an overall standpoint and felt like she phoned this one in. I liked the suspense and the way the rest of the plot unfolded. Although well written, her once signature formula for romance was sadly missing and never really developed; these two started off disliking each other, then suddenly disrobed. I never got the feeling that there was a connection between the characters. As surprised as I was by the revelation of the culprit, I hate the plot device of a killer unveiling their master scheme as they prepare kill someone - after telling why they did what they did, unsuccessfully killing their prey and getting caught, I expected them to say "and I would have gotten away with it had it not been for you meddlesome kids" like the Scooby gang always heard when they caught their baddie.

© Tracy Vest, September 2008
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Book Worm on August 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish that I could write half as well as Sandra Brown so that my review could give this book and all her other books the write up they deserve. As usual Sandra Brown doesn't disappoint. All of her books have awesome storylines and characters that are always so real that they stay with you long after the novel ends. A truly gifted writer has the ability to completely immerse their readers in the story that the reader forgets that they are even reading at all. That is what the majority of the books written by Sandra Brown do for me. Many of my favorite author's new releases I seldom get excited about because their new books as of late just aren't up to par anymore. Not so with Sandra Brown and Smoke Screen, this author and book does not disappoint.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By fantasmic on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've always enjoyed Sandra Brown's romantic suspense novels... she does a great job setting the scene (usually small towns in Texas or elsewhere in the South), her character development goes beyond the superficial, and she is a master at writing sexual tension/chemistry. The "suspense" portion, however, tends to be the weakest parts of her books, which is not a deal-breaker for me with the romantic suspense genre, because I read these books for the "romance" aspect more than anything. White Hot (Brown, Sandra) is one of my favorite SB along these lines.

Interestingly, I thoroughly enjoyed "Smoke Screen", despite the fact that the romantic chemistry between the lead characters wasn't as fully developed as it could have been and the leads were somewhat one-dimensional (in contrast to the secondary characters which were more fleshed out). What sold me the books (and kept me reading until all hours of the night) was the suspense, the teamwork between the two leads, and the colorful cast of characters. The plot was fast-paced and I couldn't wait to get to the end to see how the whole situation would be resolved.

I suppose that the main villain (and assorted bad guys) wasn't a big surprise; however, I think that, second to coming up with a surprise ending or twist (the movies "Psycho" and "The Usual Suspects" come to mind), the most difficult thing for a writer is to breathe new life into a formulaic plot (be it a strict romance, thriller, or any other genre) and make it compelling. Which is exactly what Sandra Brown did - and very well - in this book.

Anyways, if you're looking for a real page-turner and don't mind that there's considerably more suspense rather than romance, then give "Smoke Screen" a try.
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