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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.