TOUGH CUSTOMER

Written by Sandra Brown

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/


TOUGH CUSTOMER
Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £6.99
Released: 17th February 2011
Pbk

Dodge Hanley is a private investigator known for flouting the rules.  When he gets a call from his ex-lover Caroline King, asking for help, he finds himself dropping everything and heading out to Merritt, Texas, in spite of the fact that he’s not seen Caroline – or their daughter Berry – for thirty years.

Berry is being stalked by an ex-colleague, Orin Starks, who’s become obsessed with her.  When Starks breaks into Berry’s house and shoots the friend he’s convinced she’s having an affair with, Caroline decides the person they can trust is the father Berry has never known – Dodge Hanley.

I didn’t find Caroline’s reasons for calling in Dodge after thirty years entirely convincing, but I did find myself liking the book in spite of that.  And I did rather like Dodge.  He is blunt and brusque and has done a lot of amazingly stupid things in his life.  But he is a character who has learned from his mistakes, harbours regret and seems driven to do the right thing, and because of that he seemed more of a realistic and sympathetic character – more so than the other major characters.

There were a couple of irritating factors.  One was the series of flashbacks that tell Dodge’s story with regard to his life with, and separation from, Caroline, which are revealed gradually throughout the course of the novel.  This is an entirely personal view – I am not fond of flashbacks and prefer a storyline to be chronological.  The other irritation – also entirely personal – is that there was far too much romance in this book for my liking.  I prefer suspense to romance in my crime novels.  Two relationships develop in this novel:  Dodge and Caroline who rekindle their old attraction; and Berry and Ski Nyland, the local deputy brought in to investigate the crime.

The “suspense” element, though – the pursuit of Orin Starks, who kills several people in his quest to punish Berry for rejecting his amorous advances – is very well done and kept me turning the pages.  In spite of its flaws I enjoyed this book and would recommend reading it, particularly if you are a fan of romantic suspense novels.

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