Play Dirty

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown is back with a gripping story of obsession and its deadly consequences.

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. In a place where football is practically a religion, Griff committed a cardinal sin, and no one is forgiving.

Foster Speakman, owner and CEO of ...

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Play Dirty: A Novel

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown is back with a gripping story of obsession and its deadly consequences.

After five long years in federal prison, Griff Burkett is a free man. But the disgraced Cowboys quarterback can never return to life as he knew it before he was caught cheating. In a place where football is practically a religion, Griff committed a cardinal sin, and no one is forgiving.

Foster Speakman, owner and CEO of SunSouth Airlines, and his wife, Laura, are a golden couple. Successful and wealthy, they lived a charmed life before fate cruelly intervened and denied them the one thing they wanted most — a child. It's said that money can't buy everything. But it can buy a disgraced football player fresh out of prison and out of prospects.

The job Griff agrees to do for the Speakmans demands secrecy. But he soon finds himself once again in the spotlight of suspicion. An unsolved murder comes back to haunt him in the form of his nemesis, Stanley Rodarte, who has made Griff's destruction his life's mission. While safeguarding his new enterprise, Griff must also protect those around him, especially Laura Speakman, from Rodarte's ruthlessness. Griff stands to gain the highest payoff he could ever imagine, but cashing in on it will require him to forfeit his only chance for redemption...and love.

Griff is now playing a high-stakes game, and at the final whistle, one player will be dead.

Play Dirty is Sandra Brown's wildest ride yet, with hairpin turns of plot all along the way. The clock is ticking down on a fallen football star, who lost everything because of the way he played the game. Now his future — his life — hinges on one last play.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The seven deadly sins help propel this provocative, sex-fueled thriller from bestseller Brown (Ricochet). Foster Speakman, an eccentric Texas paraplegic millionaire, offers $500,000 to Griff Burkett, a disgraced former NFL quarterback fresh out of prison after serving a five-year sentence for racketeering, to impregnate Foster's wife, Laura. Foster insists the child be conceived naturally ("The way God intended"). Broke with no prospects, Griff takes the job. Meanwhile, Stanley Rodarte, the crooked detective behind Griff's arrest, is bent on pinning an unsolved murder on him and takes to terrorizing Griff and those close to him in the hopes of nailing him when he self-destructs. After Griff's stint as stud takes a bad turn, the ex-footballer must track down the one man who can secure his freedom. The tension builds as lust, greed, pride, wrath and envy threaten to undo everyone in this tightly told tale of modern temptation. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Fallen gridiron great, fresh out of prison, reluctantly agrees to impregnate the wife of a disabled millionaire. After doing five years for throwing a game to settle a gambling debt with a crime syndicate, former Dallas Cowboy Griff Burkett knows his employment options are limited. A social pariah, the one-time hero quarterback is despised by the very public that once worshipped him. Still, he understandably balks when wheelchair-bound airline mogul Foster Speakman taps the ex-con for a most indecent proposal: knock-up his wife Laura; keep the baby's real paternity a secret; walk away with millions. The gig sounds too good to be true, and the fact that Speakman insists on a "natural" conception rather than artificial means that something is not quite right. For his part, Griff does need the money, and Mrs. Speakman, while not exactly his usual type, is certainly easy on the eyes. The two have several meetings, and devoted wife Laura immediately finds herself torn with guilt over the infidelity, but also stirred by the feelings hunky Griff brings out in her. Meanwhile, Griff is being tailed by Detective Rodarte, a twisted cop who will stop at nothing (rape, murder) to see Griff back in jail or dead. After an especially passionate interlude with Griff, Laura conceives, but her joy is short-lived as her husband meets a sudden grisly end, with Griff implicated in his death. Griff is then forced to go on the run to find a witness to clear his name-before Rodarte does. He abducts the only slightly unwilling Laura to aid him in his plan, and is amazed when he realizes that staying off death row doesn't seem to matter as much as protecting her and their unborn child. He's a changed man, and Griffand Laura's psychologically complex grown-up relationship is a pleasant surprise that sets the stage for the bloody finish. Solid, satisfying thriller from the prolific Brown (Ricochet, 2006 etc.).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416523338
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 7/22/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 163,234
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is the author of fifty-seven New York Times bestsellers, including Smoke Screen. Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, most of which remain in print. As of 1990, when Mirror Image made the New York Times bestseller list, each subsequent novel, including reprints of earlier books, have become Times bestsellers. Sandra and her husband, Michael Brown, live in Arlington, Texas.

Biography

In 1979, Sandra Brown lost her job at a television program and decided to give writing a try. She bought an armful of romance novels and writing books, set up a typewriter on a card table and wrote her first novel. Harlequin passed but Dell bit, and Brown was off and writing, publishing her works under an assortment of pseudonyms.

From such modest beginnings, Brown has evolved into multimillion publishing empire of one, the CEO of her own literary brand; she towers over the landscape of romantic fiction. Brown has used her growing clout to insist her publishers drop the bosom-and-biceps covers and has added more intricate subplots, suspense, and even unhappy endings to her work. The result: A near-constant presence on The New York Times bestsellers list. In 1992, she had three on the list at the same time, joining that exclusive club of Stephen King, Tom Clancy, J. K. Rowling, and Danielle Steel.

Her work in the mainstream realm has taken her readers into The White House, where the president's newborn dies mysteriously; the oil fields and bedrooms of a Dallas-like family dynasty; and the sexual complications surrounding an investigation into an evangelist's murder. Such inventions have made her a distinct presence in a crowded genre.

"Brown is perhaps best known now for her longer novels of romantic suspense. The basic outline for these stories has passionate love, lust, and violence playing out against a background of unraveling secrets and skeletons jumping out of family closets," wrote Barbara E. Kemp in the book Twentieth-Century Romance & Historical Writers . Kemp also praises Brown's sharp dialogue and richly detailed characters. "However, her greatest key to success is probably that she invites her readers into a fantasy world of passion, intrigue, and danger," she wrote. "They too can face the moral and emotional dilemmas of the heroine, safe in the knowledge that justice and love will prevail."

Critics give her points for nimble storytelling but are cooler to her "serviceable prose," in the words of one Publishers Weekly reviewer. Still, when writing a crack page-turner, the plot's the thing. A 1992 New York Times review placed Brown among a group of a writers "who have mastered the art of the slow tease."

Staggeringly prolific, Brown found her writing pace ground to a halt when she was given a different assignment. A magazine had asked her for an autobiographical piece, and it took her months to complete. Her life in the suburbs, though personally fulfilling, was nonetheless blander than fiction. That may be why she dives into her fiction writing with such workhorse gusto. "I love being the bad guy," she told Publishers Weekly in 1995, "simply because I was always so responsible, so predictable growing up. I made straight A's and never got into any trouble, and I still impose those standards on myself. So writing is my chance to escape and become the sleaziest, scummiest role."

When she started writing, her goal was always to break out of the parameters of romance. After about 45 romances, the woman who counts Tennessee Williams and Taylor Caldwell among her influences told The New York Times that felt she had reached a plateau. In fact, she doesn't even look at her books as romances anymore. "I think of my books now as suspense novels, usually with a love story incorporated," she said. "They're absolutely a lot harder to write than romances. They take more plotting and real character development. Each book is a stretch for me, and I try something interesting each time that males will like as well as women."

Good To Know

  • "I hate to exercise and only do so because I absolutely must."

  • "I love to eat and my favorite foods are all bad for the body. Fried chicken and gravy, TexMex, red meat (hey, I'm from Texas!). My only saving grace is that I'm not that fond of sweets. Salty is my thing. Chocolate cake and ice cream I can skip. But a bag of Fritos. . ."

  • "It takes me a long time to go to sleep, usually because I read in bed and hate to put down the book. But when I do nod off, I'm a champion sleeper. I can easily do eight or nine hours a night."

  • "My worst "thing" is mean-spirited people. People who deliberately belittle or embarrass someone really irk me. The people I admire most are the ones who find something good about even the most undesirable individual. That was a quality my mother had, the one I hope most to emulate."

  • "I have a fear of gravity. Recently my whole family went to Belize. We had several adventures. We tubed a river through miles of cave, wearing head lamps so we'd have illumination. No problem. I scaled Mayan ruins. I rode horseback (on a monster named Al Capone) through the rain forest. No problem. But I couldn't zip line. Even though my five-year-old grandsons did it with glee, I just couldn't make that leap."

  • "I and my husband are huge fans of Jeopardy! We never miss it if we can help it. Does that make us complete dorks?"

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      1. Also Known As:
        Laura Jordan, Rachel Ryan and Erin St. Claire
      2. Hometown:
        Arlington, TX
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 12, 1948
      2. Place of Birth:
        Waco, Texas
      1. Education:
        Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt

    Play Dirty

    A Novel
    By Sandra Brown

    Simon & Schuster

    Copyright © 2007 Sandra Brown
    All right reserved.

    ISBN: 9780743289351

    chapter

    1

    That it?"

    "That's it." Griff Burkett tossed a small duffel bag onto the backseat of the car, then got into the front passenger seat. "I didn't bring much with me. I'm sure as hell not taking souvenirs." He wanted no memorabilia from his stint in BIG -- official code name for the Federal Correctional Institute in Big Spring, Texas.

    He made himself comfortable on the plush leather, adjusted the air-conditioning vent to blow straight at him, then, realizing they weren't moving, looked over at the driver.

    "Seat belt."

    "Oh. Right." Griff stretched the belt across his chest and latched it. Tongue in cheek, he said, "Wouldn't want to break the law."

    As lawyers went, Wyatt Turner was okay. But if he possessed a sense of humor, he kept it under lock and key. He didn't crack a smile at Griff's wry remark.

    "Come on, Turner, lighten up," Griff said. "This is a special day."

    "Unfortunately, we're not the only ones commemorating it."

    Turner drew Griff's attention to an ugly, olive green car parked in a handicapped space. Illegally it seemed, since there was no tag hanging from the rearview mirror. Griff didn't recognize the make or model of the car because it was younger than five years old. Nothing distinguished the no-frills sedan except the man sitting behind the wheel.

    Griff cursed under his breath. "What's he doinghere?"

    "It's been all over the news that you were being released today, but I don't think he brought champagne."

    "So why'd he come all this way to see little ol' me?"

    "I assume he wants to pick up where the two of you left off."

    "Fat chance."

    The object of their conversation, Stanley Rodarte, had parked where he couldn't be missed. He had wanted Griff to see him. And Griff would have recognized him anywhere, because Stanley Rodarte was one ugly son of a bitch. His face looked like it had been hacked out of oak with a chain saw, by a carver too impatient to smooth out the rough edges. Cheekbones as sharp as knife blades cast shadows across his ruddy, pockmarked skin. His hair was the color and texture of dirty straw. Behind the lenses of his opaque sunglasses, his eyes -- yellowish, as Griff recalled -- were no doubt trained on Griff with an enmity that even five years hadn't blunted.

    Griff shrugged with more indifference than he felt. "It's his time he's wasting."

    Sounding like the voice of doom, Turner said, "Obviously he doesn't think so."

    As they pulled closer to the other car, Griff flashed Rodarte a big grin, then raised his middle finger at him.

    "Jesus, Griff." Turner accelerated toward the prison gate. "What's the matter with you?"

    "He doesn't scare me."

    "Well, he should. If you had a lick of sense, he would scare you shitless. Apparently he hasn't forgotten about Bandy. Steer clear of him. I mean it. Are you listening? Do not cross him."

    "Am I gonna get billed for that unsolicited advice?"

    "No, that advice is on the house. It's for my protection as well as yours."

    Despite the blasting air conditioner, Griff lowered his window as Turner drove through the gates of the federal prison camp that had been his home for the past five years. The area in which he'd been incarcerated was classified minimum security, but it was still prison.

    "No offense to the folks in Big Spring, but I don't care to ever enter the city limits again," he remarked as they left the West Texas town and headed east on Interstate 20.

    The air was hot, dry, and gritty, perfumed by diesel and gasoline exhaust from the well-traveled highway, but it was free air, the first Griff had tasted in one thousand, eight hundred, and twenty-five days. He gulped it.

    "Feel good to be out?" his lawyer asked.

    "You have no idea."

    After a moment, Turner said, "I meant what I said about Rodarte."

    The sand-bearing wind scoured Griff's face and flattened his hair against his head. "Relax, Turner," he said, speaking above the noise of a foul-smelling cattle truck roaring past. "I won't wave red flags at Rodarte. Or at anybody else. That's in my past. Ancient history. I took my punishment and paid my debt to society. You're looking at a rehabilitated, reformed man."

    "Glad to hear it," the lawyer said, heavy on the skepticism.

    Griff had been watching Rodarte in the car's side-view mirror. He'd followed them out of Big Spring and now was matching their speed, keeping at least three vehicles between them. If Wyatt Turner realized that Rodarte was on their tail, he didn't mention it. Griff started to say something about it, then figured there were things his lawyer didn't need to know. Things that would only worry him.

    Three hundred miles later, Griff stood in the center of the apartment's living area, which was a laughable misnomer. A person might exist here, but you couldn't call it living. The room was so dim it bordered on gloomy, but the poor lighting actually worked in its favor. A crack as wide as his index finger ran up one wall from floor to ceiling like a jagged lightning bolt. The carpet was gummy. The air conditioner wheezed, and the air it pumped was damp and smelled like day-old carryout Chinese.

    "It's not much," Turner said.

    "No shit."

    "But there's no lease. The rent's paid month to month. Consider this only a stopover until you can find something better."

    "At least Big Spring was clean."

    "You want to go back?"

    Maybe Turner had a sense of humor after all.

    Griff tossed his duffel bag onto the sofa. Not only did it look uncomfortable but the upholstery was stained with God-knew-what. He remembered fondly the high-rise condo he used to live in, in the ritzy Turtle Creek area of Dallas. Suffused with natural light during the day, a spectacular view of the skyline at night. Outfitted with countless amenities. Half of the gadgets and gewgaws he hadn't even known what they were for or how to work them. But the important thing was that he'd had them.

    "When you sold my place, weren't you able to keep any of my stuff?"

    "Clothes. Personal items. Pictures. Like that. It's all in a storage unit. But the rest..." Turner shook his head and nervously jiggled his keys as though anxious to get back in his car, although the drive had taken them nearly five hours with only one stop. "I liquidated everything in the Toy Box first."

    That had been Griff's pet name for the extra garage he'd leased in which to store his grown-up toys -- snow skis, scuba equipment, an Indian motorcycle, a bass fishing boat that had been in the water exactly once. Stuff he had bought mostly because he could.

    "The Escalade and Porsche went next. I held off selling the Lexus until I had no choice. Then I began emptying the apartment. I had to sell it all, Griff. To pay off your fine. Consulting fees."

    "Your fee."

    Turner stopped his bit with the keys. Under other circumstances, the combative stance he took would have been humorous. Griff was more than half a foot taller, and he hadn't slacked on workouts during his incarceration. If anything, he was harder now than when he went in.

    Wyatt Turner had the pallor of a man who worked indoors twelve hours a day. A workout for him amounted to eighteen holes of golf, riding in a cart, followed by two cocktails in the clubhouse. In his mid-forties, he had already developed a soft paunch in front and sagging ass in back.

    "Yes, Griff, my fee," he said defensively. "I get paid to do my job. Just like you do."

    Griff looked at him for a moment, then said softly, "Did. Just like I did."

    Turner backed down and, looking slightly embarrassed by his momentary testiness, turned away and laid another set of keys on the stick-furniture coffee table. "Our extra car. It's parked outside. Can't miss it. Faded red, two-door Honda. Not worth anything as a trade-in, so when Susan got her Range Rover, we kept it for emergencies. It runs okay. I had the oil changed and the tires checked. Use it for as long as you need it."

    "Will the daily rental fee be added to my bill?"

    Again, Turner took umbrage. "Why are you being such a prick about everything? I'm trying to help."

    "I needed your help five years ago to keep me out of fucking prison."

    "I did everything I could for you," Turner fired back. "They had you. You do the crime, you do the time."

    "Gee, I need to write that down." Griff patted his pockets as though looking for a pen.

    "I'm outta here."

    Turner moved toward the door, but Griff headed him off. "Okay, okay, you're a prince among lawyers and I'm an unappreciative prick. What else?" He allowed Turner a few moments to fume in righteous indignation, then repeated in a more conciliatory tone, "What else have you done for me?"

    "I put some of your clothes in the closet in the bedroom." He gestured toward an open doorway across the room. "Jeans and polos haven't gone out of style. I picked up some sheets and towels at Target. You got toiletries?"

    "In my duffel."

    "Bottled water, milk, eggs are in the fridge. Bread's in there, too. I thought there might be roaches in the pantry."

    "Safe guess."

    "Look, Griff, I know it's no palace, but -- "

    "Palace?" he repeated, laughing. "I don't think anyone would mistake this dump for a palace." Then, to keep from appearing ungrateful, he added, "But as you said, it's only a stopgap. Do I have a phone?"

    "In the bedroom. I put down the deposit for you. It's in my name. We can have it disconnected when you get your own."

    "Thanks. What's the number?"

    Turner told him. "Don't you need to write it down?"

    "I used to carry a couple hundred plays inside my head. I can remember ten digits."

    "Hmm. Right. Don't forget to check in with your probation officer. He'll need to know how to contact you."

    "First item on my list. Call Jerry Arnold." Griff drew a check mark in the air.

    Turner handed him a bank envelope. "Here's some walking-around money until you can get a credit card. And your driver's license is in there, too. Address is wrong, of course, but it doesn't expire until your next birthday, and by then you'll have a new place."

    "Thanks." Griff tossed the bank envelope onto the table beside the keys to the borrowed car. Taking handouts from his lawyer was almost as humiliating as the first day of prison, when he'd been told the rules as well as the punishments for breaking them.

    "Well, then, I guess you're good to go." The lawyer clapped him on the shoulder, which seemed an unnatural and awkward gesture for him. He turned away quickly, but at the door he paused and looked back. "Griff...uh...folks are still pissed at you. To a lot of people, you committed a cardinal sin. If someone gives you flak, don't let it bother you too much. Turn the other cheek, okay?"

    Griff remained silent. He wouldn't make a promise he couldn't keep.

    Turner hesitated, looking worried. "Getting out...It's a tough transition."

    "Beats staying in."

    "Those classes they have for inmates about to be released..."

    "The Release Preparation Program."

    "Right. Were the sessions helpful?"

    "Oh, yeah. I learned how to fill out a job application. Was urged not to scratch my ass or pick my nose during an interview."

    Looking chagrined, Turner asked, "Do you have any idea what you're going to do?"

    "Get a job."

    "For sure. What I mean is, do you have any prospects lined up?"

    "Do you know an NFL team looking for a starting quarterback?" Turner's face went so flaccid, Griff laughed. "That was a joke."

    The estate was enclosed by an ivy-covered, twelve-foot-high brick wall.

    "Holy shit." Griff pulled the red Honda up to the call box at the gate. He'd known by the address that this was an affluent part of Dallas, but he hadn't expected it to be this affluent.

    Instructions on how to contact the house were printed on the box. He punched in a sequence of numbers on the keypad, which he supposed rang a telephone inside. In a moment, a voice came through the speaker.

    "Yes?"

    "Griff Burkett to see Mr. Speakman."

    Nothing else was said. But the iron picket gate opened and he drove through. The brick lane was bordered by cultivated beds of low shrubbery and flowers. Beyond them the tree-shaded lawn looked like a carpet of green velvet.

    The mansion itself was as impressive as the landscaping. Older than Griff by several decades, it was constructed of gray stone. Some of its walls were ivy covered like the estate wall. He followed the curving driveway and parked directly in front of the entrance, then got out of the borrowed Honda and approached the front door. It was flanked by urns containing evergreen trees. Idly Griff wondered how in hell they got a tree to grow in the shape of a corkscrew.

    No cobwebs clinging to the eaves. Nary a stray leaf anywhere. Not a smear on any of the windows. The house, the grounds, the whole place was freaking perfect.

    When he'd told Wyatt Turner he didn't have any prospects, he'd lied. Not that job offers were pouring in. Right now, Griff Burkett was arguably the most detested man in Dallas, if not the entire Lone Star State. No, that was still limiting: He was despised in the whole football-loving country. People sneered his name, or spat after saying it as though to ward off an evil spirit. Nobody in their right mind would want him on their payroll.

    But he did have this one prospect, however slim.

    A few days before his release, he had received an invitation to be in this spot, on this date, at this time. The stiff card had been engraved: Foster Speakman. The name was vaguely familiar, although Griff couldn't remember why it would be.

    As he depressed the doorbell, he couldn't imagine what a guy who lived in a place like this could possibly want with him. He had assumed the appointment portended a job offer. Now, seeing this spread, he thought maybe not. Maybe this Speakman had been a die-hard Cowboys fan who only wanted his own pound of Griff Burkett's flesh.

    The door was opened almost immediately. He was greeted by a waft of refrigerated air, the faint scent of oranges, and a guy who looked like he should be wearing a breechcloth and carrying a spear.

    Griff had expected a maid or butler -- someone in a white apron, with a soft speaking voice and polite but aloof mannerisms. This guy didn't come close. He was dressed in a tight black T-shirt and black slacks. He had the wide, flat features of Mayan royalty. His skin was smooth and beardless. Straight hair black as ink.

    "Uh, Mr. Speakman?"

    He shook his head and smiled. Rather, he revealed his teeth. You couldn't really call it a smile because no other feature of his face changed, even moderately. He stood aside and motioned Griff in.

    A vaulted ceiling loomed three stories above. Oriental rugs formed islands of subtle color on the marble floor. Griff's image was caught in the enormous mirror that hung above the long console table. The curving staircase was an architectural marvel, especially considering when the house had been built. The space was vast, and as hushed as a cathedral.

    The speechless man motioned with his head for Griff to follow. Again it occurred to Griff that Foster Speakman might be lying in wait. Did he keep thumbscrews and whips in the dungeon?

    When they reached a set of double doors, the butler -- for lack of a better word -- pushed both open, then stood aside. Griff stepped into the room, obviously a library, the walls on three sides consisting of floor-to-ceiling bookcases. The fourth wall was almost entirely windows, affording a view of the sweeping lawn and flower gardens.

    "I wondered."

    Griff turned at the unexpected voice and got his second surprise. The man smiling up at him was in a wheelchair.

    "Wondered what?"

    "How physically imposing you would be in person." He sized Griff up. "You're as tall as I expected, but not as...bulky. Of course, I've only seen you from the distance of a stadium box, and on TV."

    "TV adds ten pounds."

    The man laughed. "To say nothing of shoulder pads." He extended his right hand. "Foster Speakman. Thank you for coming." They shook hands. Not surprisingly, his hand was smaller than Griff's by far, but his palm was dry and his handshake firm. He pushed a button on his fancy wheelchair and backed away. "Come in and have a seat."

    He motioned Griff toward a grouping of comfortably arranged pieces with appropriate tables and lamps. Griff chose one of the chairs. As he sank into it, he experienced a pang of homesickness for the furnishings of similar quality he used to own. Now he had to keep his bread in a fridge with an irritating hum.

    Taking another glance around the room and the acreage beyond the windows, he questioned again just what the hell he was doing here, in an ivy-covered mansion, with a crippled man.

    Foster Speakman probably had five years on him, which put him around forty. He was nice looking. Hard to tell how tall he would be standing, but Griff guessed just shy of six feet. He was wearing preppy clothes -- navy blue golf shirt and khaki slacks, brown leather belt, matching loafers, tan socks.

    The legs of his trousers looked like deflated balloons, not much flesh to fill them out.

    "Something to drink?" Speakman asked pleasantly.

    Caught staring and speculating, Griff shifted his attention back to his host's face. "A Coke?"

    Speakman looked over at the man who'd answered the door. "Manuelo, two Cokes, por favor."

    Manuelo was as square and solid as a sack of cement but moved soundlessly. Speakman noticed Griff watching the servant as he went to the bar and began pouring their drinks. "He's from El Salvador."

    "Huh."

    "He literally walked to the United States."

    "Huh."

    "He tends to me."

    Griff could think of nothing to say to that, although he wanted to ask if Manuelo, despite his smile, kept a collection of shrunken heads under his bed.

    "Did you drive from Big Spring today?" Speakman asked.

    "My lawyer picked me up this morning."

    "Long drive."

    "I didn't mind it."

    Speakman grinned. "I guess not. After being cooped up for so long." He waited until Griff had taken his drink from the small tray Manuelo extended to him, then took his own cut-crystal glass and raised it. "To your release."

    "I'll drink to that."

    Manuelo left through the double doors, pulling them closed behind him. Griff took another sip of Coke, becoming uncomfortable under Speakman's blatantly curious stare.

    What was this? Invite a con for drinks week?

    The whole scene was beginning to make him uneasy. Deciding to cut to the chase, he set his drink on the end table at his elbow. "Did you ask me here to get an up close and personal look at a has-been football player? Or a convicted felon?"

    Speakman seemed unfazed by his rudeness. "I thought you might be in the market for a job."

    Not wanting to look desperate or needy, Griff gave a noncommittal shrug.

    "Any offers yet?" Speakman asked.

    "None that have interested me."

    "The Cowboys aren't -- "

    "No. Nor is any other team. I've been banned from the league. I doubt I could buy a ticket to an NFL game."

    Speakman nodded as though he had already determined that was the way things were with Griff Burkett. "If you can't do something related to football, what did you plan to do?"

    "I planned to serve my sentence and get out."

    "Nothing beyond that?"

    Griff sat back, again shrugged as though he didn't give a shit, reached for his Coke, and took another sip. "I've toyed with some ideas but haven't settled on anything yet."

    "I own an airline. SunSouth."

    Griff kept his features schooled, trying not to show that he was either surprised or impressed, when actually he was both. "I fly it. Or rather, I used to fly SunSouth often."

    Speakman flashed an unself-conscious smile. "So do a lot of people, I'm pleased to say."

    Griff looked around the beautiful room, his gaze stopping on some of its treasures, then came back to Speakman. "I bet you are."

    Despite his drollness, Speakman's smile remained in place. "I invited you here to offer you a job."

    Griff's heart did a little jig of gladness. A man like Foster Speakman could do him a lot of good. Now he remembered why the name had sounded familiar. Speakman was an influential force in Dallas, owning and operating one of the region's most successful enterprises. An endorsement from him, even a minor nod of pardon, would go a long way toward winning back some of the favor Griff had lost five years ago.

    But he tamped down his bubbling optimism. For all he knew, the guy wanted him to strain the shit out of the sewage tanks on his airplanes. "I'm listening."

    "The job I'm offering would give you immediate financial relief. I understand that your assets were liquidated to pay the fine the court imposed on you."

    Hedging the truth, Griff said, "Most of them, yeah."

    "Those proceeds were also used to cover substantial debts. Is that correct?"

    "Look, Speakman, since you seem to know anyway, stop fishing. I lost everything and then some. Is that what you wanted to hear? I don't have a pot to piss in."

    "Then I suppose a hundred thousand would come in handy."

    Taken aback by the amount, Griff felt his irritation turn to suspicion. He'd learned the hard way to be wary of anything that seemed too easily come by. If it seemed too good to be true, it probably was. "A hundred thousand a year?"

    "No, Mr. Burkett," Speakman said, smiling, enjoying himself. "A hundred thousand to seal our deal. Using a term you're familiar with, it would be like a signing bonus."

    Griff stared at him for a count of ten. "A hundred grand. U.S. dollars."

    "Legal tender. It's yours if you say yes to what I propose."

    Griff carefully removed his ankle from his opposite knee and set both feet on the floor, buying time while his mind spun around the amount of money and how badly he needed it. "Are you thinking about using me to advertise your airline? Billboards, commercials, ads? That kind of thing? I wouldn't cotton to posing naked, but it could be negotiated."

    Speakman smiled and shook his head. "I realize that endorsements were a significant part of your income when you were the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. That Number Ten jersey sold a lot of whatever it was advertising. But now I'm afraid an endorsement from you would repel customers, not attract them."

    Even knowing that was true, Griff was pissed off to hear it. "Then what did you have in mind? Who do I have to kill?"

    Speakman actually laughed out loud. "It's nothing that drastic."

    "I don't know anything about airplanes."

    "This isn't airline related."

    "You need a new yardman?"

    "No."

    "Then I'm fresh out of guesses. What do I do to earn my hundred thousand dollars?"

    "Make my wife pregnant."

    Copyright (c) 2007 by Sandra Brown Management Ltd.



    Continues...


    Excerpted from Play Dirty by Sandra Brown Copyright © 2007 by Sandra Brown. Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 200 )
    Rating Distribution

    5 Star

    (86)

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    (56)

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    (35)

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    (12)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 201 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 9, 2008

      One of her best

      I absolutely enjoyed this book. She didn't go with the usual formula and it was different. The ending was fabulous and surprising.

      14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted October 1, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      Couldn't put it down

      I used to read lots of Sandra Brown's books, but felt they became a bit repetitive in their story line. I purchased this book and was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the 'less than perfect' character (Griff) and the overall plot. The author kept reeling me in for another twist, right when I thought I had it all figured out. I will put her books back on my "Must Read" list.

      12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted August 15, 2009

      Great Reading

      This was a different from ordianary book. It was exciting to see that someone who made a mistake was willing to get his life turned around for the better in doing what was necessay in a logical manner with little or no violence and attaining his goal. it was very hard to sit down since every move you had to knw the outcome.

      6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted December 29, 2013

      Absolutely fantastic

      This was an excellent example of superb writing. The plots twists kept coming, the relationships were real and the action was nonstop. The main character Griff was flawed but trying to do better. The other characters all played their roles very well. The book was well-edited. Overall, a wonderful addition to my library!

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted February 12, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      Sandra Brown does it again. A plot of intrigue, sex, love, and high-stakes game playing.

      Loved the main character, Griff Burkett. He finds himself down and out after spending time in jail for being less than honest. After release he has no money and no place to go. He finds himself in a crazy secret lucrative job offered by a airline millionaire and his wife. <BR/>Griff, a Dallas Cowboys superstar, is convicted of throwing a game for the mob. When he appears out of prison, all his previous loyal fans hate him and he has to cope from having been loved to now being hated.<BR/>Griff's character finds himself in a high stake game, redemption by his foster parents, love, and playing the last perfect play of his life.<BR/>I wanted to read the book as quickly as possible and lost some sleep.<BR/><BR/>Cherry Blossom

      4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 17, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Good read for a rainy day

      I actually read this on a snowy weekend, nevertheless it was a good read. I didn't feel the same anticipation or thrill but she did step outside the box with memory sequences. It kept you wondering what happened on 'that night'. Because of not knowing what happened I don't think I developed an attachment to the characters and their relationship. I always enjoy Sandra Brown's books and I appreciated the ending but this wasn't one of my favorites.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 25, 2013

      Play dirty

      Its the best book ever make sure you buy it

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted December 10, 2013

      Loved it!!

      Could put this book down

      2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted November 28, 2008

      LOved this book!

      It created mystery and tension as the plot thickened and continued to change

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted January 24, 2014

      I had forgotten how much I like Sandra Brown's books

      This is a very good book by an arthor I haven't read in a couple of years. I now realize that I missed her! If you like books with sub plots and never knowing what's around the corner you will love this one.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted January 24, 2014

      I hadn't read Sandra Brown for years and was pleasantly surprise

      I hadn't read Sandra Brown for years and was pleasantly surprised although thought it was rather odd that she would use the Dallas Cowboys as part of her plot.  Casting aspersions on a real team sometimes isn't the best!  But overall, it was a good book and started me reading her again.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 18, 2014

      Suspense Delivered!

      Again author Sandra Brown has delivered on a suspense thriller of a fallen hero, infidelty and crooked cop. The story has strong surprise twists completely unique to the author s style. Definitely a novel you can t put down til the end.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 11, 2013

      A must read!!

      Get's an A+!

      1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted December 8, 2013

      Suspenseful!

      I wanted a book that was good from the very first page and this one delivered. Had me guessing until the end and then i was still suprised. Very good novel.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 9, 2013

      Highly recommend

      Lots of fun to read and super sexy too

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 6, 2012

      My favorite!

      This was my first book to read by Sandra and I just couldn't put it down. It didn't turn out the way I expected either. This book has ranked Sandra as one of my more favorite aurhors! I look forward to reading more of her books.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 22, 2012

      Great Book

      Sandra Brown still keeps you guessing and did a wonderful job with this book!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted December 30, 2011

      Great

      Loved it

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted October 13, 2011

      Great

      One of her best:)

      1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 22, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      WHO SAYS YOU CANNOT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

      The title says it all. A good book. Not what you would expect in a murder mystery. Characters are interesting to say the least. Ending is expected but still fun to read.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 201 Customer Reviews

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