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Tough Customer

Tough Customer

3.6 501
by Sandra Brown, Victor Slezak (Read by)

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Star author Sandra Brown returns with a suspenseful, sizzling thriller in which a man of dubious character must confront the sins of his past in order to save himself—and those he loves—from a madman.

Dodge Hanley, Derek Mitchell’s indispensable staff investigator from Smash Cut, returns as Tough Customer’s flawed


Star author Sandra Brown returns with a suspenseful, sizzling thriller in which a man of dubious character must confront the sins of his past in order to save himself—and those he loves—from a madman.

Dodge Hanley, Derek Mitchell’s indispensable staff investigator from Smash Cut, returns as Tough Customer’s flawed protagonist. Dodge has used shady means of delivering the goods in the past…but when it comes to aiding the daughter of his former lover, real estate mogul Caroline King, his dogged perseverance knows no bounds. Determined to uncover the truth for Caroline and her daughter, Berry, Dodge teams with a small-town sheriff to track down a depraved man who’s obsessed with having Berry—or killing her. This time it’s not just Dodge’s life at risk. He stands to lose his heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Introduced in 2009's Smash Cut, Atlanta PI Dodge Hanley makes this entertaining, if slightly talky romantic thriller from bestseller Brown a must-read for anyone who appreciates a tough guy hero with a heart of gold. Late one night Dodge receives a phone call from his lost love, Houston realtor Caroline King, who asks him to come to Texas to help catch Oren Starks, a creepy over-the-top stalker who's out to kill Dodge and Caroline's 30-year-old daughter, Berry Malone. Dodge hasn't seen Berry since the day she was born. When Starks takes a shot at Berry in Caroline's house, hitting a work associate of Berry's instead, Dodge rushes to the rescue. While Merritt County deputy sheriff Ski Nyland, who falls for the equally smitten Berry, is no slouch on the case, the relentlessly ruthless Dodge plays the most crucial role in the effort to stop the bad guy. Brown fans will want to see more of the irresistible Dodge. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews

A manhunt for a homicidal stalker reunites an ex-cop and his long-lost daughter, in Brown's latest thriller (Rainwater, 2009).

Private eye Dodge Hanley, who left the Houston police for Atlanta years before, is summoned back to Texas by his long-ago flame Caroline King, now a successful realtor. Caroline wants Dodge, who once rescued her from an abusive fiancé, to lend his sleuthing skills to find Oren Starks, the man who burst in on her daughter Berry and Berry's co-worker Ben at Caroline's lake house near the small town of Merritt. Shooting and wounding Ben, Oren fled, but not before vowing to murder Berry. A dismissed co-worker at the Houston marketing firm where Berry and Ben work, Oren was unhinged by his thwarted efforts to woo Berry and another colleague, Sally Buckland. Dodge (who, unbeknownst to Berry, is her father) and local deputy Ski Nyland join forces to track Oren down. Ski's call to Sally finds her strangely reluctant to corroborate her previous claim of sexual harassment against Oren, perhaps because Oren has a gun to her head during the call. Despite a leg injury sustained at Caroline's house, Oren confounds pursuers by somehow managing to be in several places at once. He breaks into a Merritt motel room, fatally wounding a teenager who surprises him there. Sally's body is found hanging in the closet of Berry's Houston home. Oren takes an elderly couple hostage in a campground, and kills again before disappearing into the Big Thicket, a treacherous, swampy national park. Brown's trademark romance spiced with raunch serves her well as she orchestrates two parallel lust stories: Caroline's and Dodge's passionate but brief encounter in 1978, and the present frisson between Berry and Dodge's younger doppelgänger, hard-boiled cop Ski. The narrative, slowed by too many talky scenes and descriptive filler, eventually rewards readers' patience with a bang-up surprise ending.

Brown's ear for Texas dialect and her earnest characterizations of cynical lawmen with stout hearts make for an enjoyable summer read.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 5.68(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Brown is the author of sixty-seven New York Times bestsellers, including Mean Streak, Deadline, Low Pressure, and Smoke Screen. Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, most of which remain in print. Sandra and her husband, Michael Brown, live in Arlington, Texas.

Victor Slezak's films include The Siege, Just Cause, The Bridges of Madison County, and Beyond Rangoon. On television, he appeared in PBS's The Ponder Heart (director Martha Coolidge), and HBO's Path to War (director John Frankenheimer). His Broadway performances include Salome, with Al Pacino, Jackie: An American Life, and The Graduate, opposite Kathleen Turner.

Brief Biography

Arlington, TX
Date of Birth:
March 12, 1948
Place of Birth:
Waco, Texas
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008

Customer Reviews

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Tough Customer 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 501 reviews.
Florry More than 1 year ago
Okay I am going to try and help Sandra out here, b/c though I have rated this book low, some of her earlier work (i.e. anything from 2001 or before)is absolutely incredible and is why I have such a low opinion of some of her most recent works. If you have never read a book by Sandra Brown, don't bother with this book at all...Don't look at it, don't even flip through it, to be honest its crap and I have no idea what in the world has happened to Sandra Brown's writings in the past few years. Now no more negative...lets talk about books of hers that you SHOULD read, b/c they have some of the richest character developments and some of the best twists I have ever read. My favorite is Envy!!! This, to me, was her last amazing book! Other novels of hers that are fantastic are French Silk, Fat Tuesday, Mirror Image, The Alibi, and basicly anything before 2001. For those of us avid fans that have read every piece of work by her and now pray each October for the newest novel to be more like her older work and less like her water downed, predictable, blah work that she has put out in the last few years, we just need to hold on and hope that she sees the light :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of Sandra Brown novels, and I've real all of them, including her early works done under a different name. This book was a huge disappointment! The main character was poorly drawn and not particularly likable. The dialogue was dull and not what one would expect from such an accomplished author. I can't help but have a a sneaking suspicion that this book was written by someone else. Or perhaps Ms. Brown was distracted by "Rainwater" and not able to concentrate on her character development properly. The reasons why people behaved the way they did seemed to be thrown in when the editor or reader required an explanation. I do hope we get to read more Sandra Brown stories, but I also hope that they are the type of novels that her loyal readers look forward to and expect from her. This was not a page turner and it definitely was not worth the price paid to download to my Nook! Wait until you can get it at your local library.
spinspinnsuga More than 1 year ago
"Tough Customer" is not one of Brown's finest creative productions. Is there a point that every author arrives at where they look to cliché, overused endings as their own? I was bitterly disappointed with her ending. I felt cheated and Brown honestly insulted my intelligence. As part of the reading audience, shouldn't we be given the chance to solve the mystery with hints that the writer drops throughout the book? As far as I can recall, Brown didn't give the reader any such chance to figure out the ending. What kept "Tough Customer" from bombing completely was the story behind Dodge and Caroline. It gave the book its only pulse. There was more action going on in the flashbacks then there were during the entire novel. Throughout the story I became more and more exasperated with Berry, who kept back a plethora of details from the police and made her less credible throughout the novel. I'm very disappointed in this book, as I am an avid Brown fan. This was not one of her best - but personally, it's a slight step up from "Smash Cut", which was absolutely terrible.
SimonsGrandma More than 1 year ago
I am a enthusiastic reader of Sandra Brown and really enjoyed Smash Cut. So, I was looking forward to reading Tough Customer. I was so disappointed with the book that I took it back to my local Barnes & Noble. The writing was extremely choppy. For example, Brown has the younger female character (Dodge's daughter) suddenly confess to several "mistakes" that were critical to subsequent events without even inviting the reader into the thought process. She tells her mother that she has figured out that Dodge is her real father even though we again have not been invited into her thinking. There is no real character development and I was not invested emotionally into who they are - I didn't like them. Brown's editor did her a disservice by not doing the job.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually enjoy Sandra Brown's book but this one made me crazy. One of the main characters of the book is a rough-around-the edges kind of guy named Dodge. He smokes.....okay we get that. Ms. Brown mentions this at least 100 times throughout the book. Every other page she has Dodge going outside for a cigarette or fishing in his pocket wishing he could smoke. Because she mentioned cigarettes, smoking cigarettes or the fact that Dodge was about to have a fit because he couldn't smoke so often throughout the book it makes me wonder how much the tobacco companies paid her for "product placement".
harstan More than 1 year ago
Dodge Henley is an investigator for a defense attorney. He and real estate manager Caroline King had a child together, but Dodge betrayed her so she turned her back on him. The last time he saw his daughter was when she was born thirty years ago. Dodge never expected to see either of them again. One night Caroline calls him to come home because Berry desperately needs him as she is being stalked by Oren Starks. The psychopath entered her house while she was in the shower and aimed a gun at her. Her co-worker ran inside when he heard her scream; but Oren shoots him and yells at Berry he will return to kill her. While in hiding Oren kills an elderly man and a young woman so the pressure is on the sheriff to apprehend him before someone else dies at the hands of this lunatic. Dodge knows he still loves Caroline and adores his daughter. He teams up with Merritt County Sheriff's Deputy Ski Nylander to go after the maniac as each vows to never quit until they either die, or Oren is stopped and captured alive or dead. The lead in Smash Cuts, Dodge returns, but remains a loner who is unable to allow any woman get close to her since he never moved passed his love for Caroline who in spite of the decades still rocks his world while the scars of their break-up haunts him today. Even with that emotional hang-up, this is a fantastic non stop action thriller with an underlying second chance romance as Sandra Brown will rock the reader's world. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Holds my undivided attention every time, all are "must read"'s
B-Ann More than 1 year ago
I have loved everything I read by Sandra Brown and this was no exception. It was a great read!!
bgwyn34 More than 1 year ago
Sandra Brown is a new author for me and will definately become another one of my favorites. I loved this book and the Character of Dodge Hanley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have probably read everything Sandra Brown has written, starting with her romance paperbacks, and enjoyed them for what they were at that time. I am still wishing she would leave out all of the graphic sex details because she has grown beyond that as a writer - or I thought she had in the past years with her wonderful hardback thrillers. This was a good book when I started it, but I actually had to wonder if she wrote it because there were parts that didn't flow. Then there was all the references to cigarette cravings. Parts in it that seemed to just be misplaced. I still could have recommended it until I reached the end of the book, and then I wanted to throw it down and stomp it. The story stopped. It didn't end. I kept wondering if there were pages missing. I even looked to see if there was a note that said something about "look for Part 2 coming out in October"! When I invest my money on a hardback book, and my time reading it, I certainly expect it to have an ending. The characters may continue in another book, but this story should have ended in this book. Am totally surprised that Ms. Brown's editor didn't do a better job for her with this book. Don't know if I'll spend my money on another Brown book.
mlb58 More than 1 year ago
Sandra Brown never dissapoints
MirandaAnnRose More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Sandra Brown's romances early on and when she switche to mystery I kept reading with mixed reactions. Tough Customer follows "Smash Cut" with some of the same characters, however, it's not nearly as entertaining. Ms. Brown resorts some some trite overdone plot developments especially at the end. I was disgusted that I had wasted so much time when the end was so disappointing. Don't bother.
LadySilhouette More than 1 year ago
This was an okay book, considering what I usually see from Sandra Brown. I read all types of books and I have been a fan of SB for a while, the writing style was classic SB, but it was still missing the little extra something Sandr Brown has become famous for.
Sweetbabyj58 More than 1 year ago
One of the worst Sandra Brown books I've read. Really enjoyed Smash Cut but barely remembered the characters from it since it was so long ago. The characters were weak and didn't enjoy any of this book.
Anonymous 24 days ago
I loved this story! Alot of twists and turns! It kept me reading for a long time!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Be ready for all the twists and turns of this thriller, right up to the end! Yet, enjoy the romance as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific story and believable characters. A great adventure I couldn't put down. Pp
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