Smoke Screen

( 101 )

Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown?s "scorching...action-filled" (Publishers Weekly) tale of corruption and betrayal, revenge and reversal.

When newswoman Britt Shelley wakes up to find herself in bed with Jay Burgess, a star detective in the Charleston PD, she remembers nothing of how she got there?or how Jay wound up dead. Handsome, hard-partying Jay was one of four heroic city officials who risked their lives five years earlier to lead others to safety from a ...

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Smoke Screen: A Novel

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Overview

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown’s "scorching...action-filled" (Publishers Weekly) tale of corruption and betrayal, revenge and reversal.

When newswoman Britt Shelley wakes up to find herself in bed with Jay Burgess, a star detective in the Charleston PD, she remembers nothing of how she got there—or how Jay wound up dead. Handsome, hard-partying Jay was one of four heroic city officials who risked their lives five years earlier to lead others to safety from a catastrophic fire. His lifelong friend, Raley Gannon, was later assigned to investigate the blaze. But Raley never finished the inquiry because one calamitous night his career was destroyed by scandal. Now, the newswoman whose biased reporting helped bring about Raley's downfall might be his only chance to vindicate himself and get justice for the fire's victims. But the more Raley and Britt discover about that fateful day, the more perilous the situation becomes, until they're not only chasing the truth but running for their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sensational...a bang-up tale of corruption, betrayal, revenge, and reversal." — Liz Smith, New York Post

"Excellent indeed." — The Dallas Morning News

"GRIPPING AND ELEGANTLY STRUCTURED... A TRUE MASTER OF SUSPENSE." — THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL (RI)

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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416563075
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 7/21/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 261,215
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 4.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Brown


Sandra Brown
is the author of more than fifty books, all of them New York Times bestsellers, including Chill Factor, White Hot, and Hello, Darkness. She and her husband 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?"

  • Read More Show Less
      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

    CHAPTER

    1

    Raley pulled open the rusty screen door, its hinges squealing. "Hey! You in here?"

    "Ain't I usually?"

    A curl of faded red paint flaked off when the wood frame slapped closed behind Raley as he stepped into the one-room cabin. It smelled of fried pork and the mouse-gnawed Army blanket on the cot in the corner.

    It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dimness and find the old man. He was sitting at a three-legged table, hunched over a cup of coffee like a dog guarding a hard-won bone, staring into the snowy screen of a black-and-white television. Ghostly images flickered in and out. There was no audio except for a static hiss.

    "Good morning."

    The old man snorted a welcome through his sheaves of nasal hair. "He'p yourself." He nodded toward the enamel coffeepot on the stove. "Can't recommend the cream. It curdled overnight."

    Raley stepped over the three hounds lying motionless on the floor and went to the refrigerator that was jammed between an antique pie safe, which served as a pantry, and a drafting table, which served no purpose whatsoever except to collect dust and further reduce the floor space in the crowded cabin.

    The handle on the fridge door had broken off, probably decades ago, but if you pressed your fingers just right into the soft rubber sealant in the crack, you could pry it open. "I brought you some catfish." Raley set the newspaper bundle on one of the rusty wire shelves, then quickly shut the door against the mingled odors of cream gone bad and general spoilage.

    "Much obliged."

    "You're welcome." The coffee probably had been boiled several times and would be the consistency of molasses. Without cream to dilute it, Raley thought it better to pass.

    He glanced at the silent TV. "You need to adjust your rabbit ears."

    "Ain't the rabbit ears. I turned off the sound."

    "How come?"

    The old man replied with one of his customary harrumphs that said he couldn't be bothered to answer. A self-proclaimed recluse, he had lived in voluntary exile ever since "the war," although which war had never been specified. He had as little as possible to do with other Homo sapiens.

    Shortly after Raley had moved into the vicinity, the two had come upon each other in the woods. Raley was staring down into the beady eyes of a dead opossum when the old man came crashing through the underbrush and said, "Don't even think about it."

    "About what?"

    "About taking my possum."

    Touching the bloated, flyblown, limp body with the pink, hairless tail and horrible stench was the last thing Raley intended to do. He raised his hands in surrender and stood aside so the barefoot old man in stained overalls could retrieve his kill from the metal jaws of the small trap.

    "Way you been stampin' 'round out here, it's a wonder to me it ain't you caught in this trap 'stead of the possum," he grumbled.

    Raley wasn't aware that anyone lived within miles of the cabin he'd recently purchased. He'd rather not have had a neighbor of any kind, but especially one who kept track of his comings and goings.

    As the old man stood up, his knees protested in loud pops and snaps, which caused him to grimace and mutter a string of curses. With the carcass dangling from his hand, the old man looked Raley over, from his baseball cap and bearded face to the toes of his hiking boots. Inspection complete, the old man spat tobacco juice into the dirt to express his opinion of what he saw. "Man's got a right to walk in the woods," he said. "Just don't go messin' with my traps."

    "It would help me to know where they are."

    The old man's cracked lips spread into a wide grin, revealing tobacco-stained stubs that once were teeth....

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 101 )
    Rating Distribution

    5 Star

    (52)

    4 Star

    (27)

    3 Star

    (13)

    2 Star

    (7)

    1 Star

    (2)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 101 Customer Reviews
    • Posted December 7, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      Could not get into this one.

      Five years ago, after having one drink, Raley Gannon woke up at his friend Jay Burgess's apartment next to a dead woman. He can't remember what happened and loses his career and his fiancé. <BR/><BR/>Britt Shelley is a reporter always looking for an explosive story. Now Britt wakes up next to a dead man, after one drink, and can't remember anything. The catch is that the dead man is Jay Burgess. <BR/><BR/>When Raley found out, he kidnapped Britt and they decided to work together to find out what happened to both of them. <BR/><BR/>1. How in the heck do you pronounce "Raley"? Rally, Rayley, Raleigh? I ended up calling him Riley. <BR/>2. Britt was self involved and admitted she never gave a thought to the damage her stories did to others and wasn't above slanting the story to make it more titillating. <BR/>3. Did Jay have to be made out as such a horrible person? <BR/>4. There was zero chemistry between Raley and Britt, he didn't even like her for good reason! <BR/><BR/>However, I didn't see the end coming until it was almost there. This started out with a good plot but went in a dozen different directions and ended up nowhere. The last few books I've read by Sandra Brown have not been up to her usual standards. Get this one at the library.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 9, 2010

      Smoke Screen is one of Sandra Brown's best mysteries

      I'm a dedicated reader of anything Sandra Brown writes and her books just keep getting better. Smoke Screen is one of her best. The plot twists keep you in suspense until the end. You don't know who the heroes or who the villians are. You don't know "who done it" or even what exactly they did, and you fear for the safety of the main characters throughout. The characters Britt Shelley and Jay Burgess are intelligent yet vulnerable and human. The romance is steamy. This book evoked many emotions for me. It is well researched in regards to the police and fire department and the TV news reporters This is a book you will not want to put down until you are finished and that you will think about even when you aren't reading. I highly recommend this for anyone who likes to pick up a book to forget about the stresses of their real life for a while.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 20, 2010

      holds your attention till the end!

      This was definatly a page turner. I did not want to stop till the end as every time I thought I knew what was going on - it changed!!
      Great Read

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted August 25, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Another one that tops the last!

      This book kept me turning pages from the moment I picked it up! Every character was well played and served the plot without a hitch. This is definitely one for a personal library. And when you read it, don't think you can figure it all out because as is her gift, Sandra Brown will keep you guessing.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted August 19, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      "Smoke Screen" hits the mark!

      TV reporter Brett Shelley thinks she's getting a lead on a big story when she agrees to go to police detective Jay Burgess' home. The next day she wakes up in bed with him and doesn't remember how she got there. Then she notices that Jay is dead.

      Jay's friend, firefighter, Raley Gannon, kidnapps Brett and tries to get her to tell him what happened. Britt still can't remember. However the news comes on that the cause of death is suffication and Britt is listed as a suspect.

      Brett's first break on TV was covering a fire at the police dept. five years before. Jay and three other municiple employees became heroes when they led others to safety at risk of their own lives.

      Raley then tells Brett that he had a similar situation to her not remembering. After the fire at the police dept. Raley was lead investigator for possible arson. He thought that one of the people who died didn't die from the fire but was killed and the fire set to cover it up. He was invited to Jay's home, given a drink by a pretty lady and the next day woke up next to her coprse. With the negative publicity he was taken off the case and the investigation closed. He was then fired from the department.

      When they realize that they had both been set up, Raley and Britt set out to clear their names and catch the real killer.

      This was very well done. The characters are believable and sympathetic. They form a romantic connection and this helps the plot. The suspense mounts throughout and the reader is carried along with it.
      Hard to put down and highly recommended.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 25, 2008

      Will not buy this author again

      I stopped reading Sandra Brown because of the graphic oral sex. She has written some very good mysteries and I hoped this would be one of those. The plot was very good and the story held my interest. The sex was over the top unnecessary. In fact, the ending was ruined by the closing sex act.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted October 26, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Almost as good as Play Dirty

      Play Dirty and Smoke Screen show a new more mature Sandra Brown. As I grew up reading her lighter romances and have since grown to love a good thrilling mystery I have really enjoyed her later works. Smoke Screen has interesting characters, takes a plot of out of the headlines of mind altering drugs, and leads you to what some might say a surprising lead villian.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 20, 2014

      (;

      One of my favorite books by Sandra!!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 7, 2014

      To to evil cats

      I woulddd but i am too lazy

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 6, 2014

      Amber

      "Odd..."

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 6, 2014

      Blackheart

      Ya np ill do that brb

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 8, 2014

      Menardi

      When were the others going to return? She sighed inwardly and watched the shadows.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 3, 2014

      Green eyes

      Watch ivy

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 13, 2014

      Deimos

      *sighs, sitting down restlessly*

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 4, 2014

      Dragon

      Is bored

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

      Posted February 2, 2014

      What is this?

      What is this?

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 2, 2014

      Flash

      Nods respectfully to Ivy then pads into camp.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted February 1, 2014

      Smokeash

      Slinked in.

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

      Posted August 16, 2013

      Hard to put down!

      From the first paragraph to the last is a riller coaster ride. I recently started reading Sandra Brown's books and have enjoyed every one so far. This is definitely one of her best.

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

      Posted November 2, 2012

      Great Read

      I just recently began reading Sandra Brown's books and this was the best out of the four I have read. If you like crime, passion, and action all in one than this is the book to read.

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