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Sandra Brown has written close to 70 books and continues to thrill readers with enticing plot lines and fabulous characters. STING is her latest contribution to the thriller genre. If romance and intrigue can dominate the scene, then this novel will entertain throughout.

Two unsavory characters take a break from planning a delicate task in central Louisiana. They order drinks in a low-class bar at the edge of a small town. Shaw Kinnard has been matched up with low-life Mickey Bolden to assassinate a local young woman, Jordie Bennet, which they plan to do the next day. Their night becomes complicated when Jordie herself walks in, sits at the bar and orders a drink. She keeps checking her phone and seems annoyed when a local swell gets into her space, flirting for attention. She talks to him but gives him the brush-off.

"Dedication to a purpose, fixation on past dark events, determination to obtain justice, acceptance of unequal lifestyles and writing a plot with clever twists make STING a book one cannot put down."

Meanwhile, Mickey proposes to Shaw that they kill her that night. Followed by the local dude, she pays for the drink and heads for the door. The two scoundrels vacate quickly. Shaw follows Mickey into the parking lot, close to Jordie’s car. Mickey, with gun pointed at his prey, takes aim. A muffled shot rings true to its target, leaving Jordie with blood covering her white blouse and a man slumped onto her. Mickey is dead. Shaw grabs the shocked socialite and heads for his rented vehicle. When the police arrive, they have a murder plus a kidnapping to solve.

A peculiar situation evolves when the girl wakes up in the back seat of a car, with hands and feet bound and a bump on her head. Brown shoots an arsenal of sassy words from Jordie’s mouth. Shaw leads her to believe that he will eventually kill her, for much more than the agreed-upon price from the man who hired him. With her cell phone disabled, batteries removed and little means of communication available to her, Jordie’s hope is to use cunning for an escape opportunity.

Meanwhile, FBI Special Agents Joe Wiley and Greg Hickam arrive at the murder scene and discover more layers to the case than originally thought. Not only is a well-known assassin dead, but the sister of the prime witness in a federal case against his boss has been kidnapped. No clue jumps out with a simple trail to follow. The two doggedly interview witnesses from the bar, including the yokel who made advances to her.

Josh Bennet, who is in FBI protective custody, bides his time and escapes, leaving no trace.  He’s after 30 million dollars, stolen from his criminal boss, Panella, who wants Jordie dead to scare Josh into giving him the money. A major question remains: Does Jordie, Josh’s protective sister who has shielded him much of his life, know where he hid the money? All major players share varying motives to recover both Josh and the cash.

Shaw and Jordie share focus as the unlikely couple to evade capture by those in the manhunt. Brown’s splashy confrontations between the pair paint a picture of mutual contempt. He, the scarred killer, displays impeccable wit and skills that leave Jordie with little hope of escape. She, on the other hand, detests his technique but is sexually drawn to his “untouchable” qualities. Still, she plans to escape if given the chance.

Surrounded by swampland, Brown shows the difficult bayou terrain in graphic detail; all plants and swamp predators are as murderous as men with guns. She pulls together a story full of hints from past lives, which become important in understanding the motivations of both the evil and the good among her characters. Dedication to a purpose, fixation on past dark events, determination to obtain justice, acceptance of unequal lifestyles and writing a plot with clever twists make STING a book one cannot put down.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on September 23, 2016

by Sandra Brown

  • Publication Date: August 16, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455581208
  • ISBN-13: 9781455581207