Playing Dead

Playing Dead

by Allison Brennan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345502735
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/30/2008
Series: Prison Break Trilogy
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 295,673
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

Allison Brennan is the author of nine bestselling romantic thrillers, including The Prey, Speak No Evil, and Killing Fear. For thirteen years she worked as a consultant in the California State Legislature before leaving to devote herself fully to her family and writing. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Dan, and their five children.

www.allisonbrennan.com

Read an Excerpt

One

Present Day

Claire was an expert bullshit detector. That’s what made her so good at her job investigating insurance fraud.

This morning she’d been called to a warehouse fire in West Sacramento, at the Port of Sacramento near the docks where the Deep Water Ship Channel connected the Sacramento River to the San Francisco Bay. The port predominantly handled agricultural products, but container goods from China and beyond were not uncommon. They didn’t have customs or any serious inspections, which were taken care of at the port of entry. As far as docks went, they were relatively clean and quiet, even at seven in the morning. Most of the activity was at the far end where a ship was being loaded with produce Claire couldn’t identify from this distance.

She breathed deeply, the lingering scent of burned wood, scorched metal, and ash making her grimace. Best to get this out of the way now, before the temperature rose. It was only the second week of May, yet summer had arrived. While the rest of the country enjoyed spring, yesterday Sacramento had peaked at ninety-five. Today would be even hotter.

Claire was supposed to meet the arson investigator here at eight, but she liked hitting the scene early to do her own walk-through. She’d already done everything she could from the office; the two final pieces for the report were the walk-through and interviewing the claimant.

Five-shot Starbucks latte in hand—as much to combat the mild hangover from her late night as to wake her up—Claire grabbed her backpack from the backseat of her Jeep, absently brushing dog hair off her jeans. She had to remember to cover the seats with towels when she took Chewy and Yoda on car rides.

Crime scene tape cut across the front of the warehouse—but since it was a mere shell and incapable of being locked up, she slid under the tape. Arson. She smelled it.

Warehouses sometimes burned down by accident. A careless employee left a cigarette butt burning, lightning struck, homeless people tried to get warm in the frigid Sacramento winters.

But accidents were rare.

The building owner hadn’t even been smart about it, Claire thought as she walked around taking pictures and notes. There was no evidence of burned goods. They could have been stolen before the arson, but Claire suspected the merchandise had never arrived or had been sold before the arson. She’d already pulled the financials of Ben Holman and Holman Medical Supply Company, Inc. Operating on the wrong side of a razor-thin profit margin, Ben Holman was three months late on his personal home mortgage and his creditors all had 90- to 120-day lates on him.

Convenient timing for an insurance claim that would give him half a mil for supplies and damage.

Holman would likely claim faulty wiring . . . possible, of course. These dockside warehouses were old and rarely did the owners upgrade the interiors. They were used for the temporary storage of goods that came down the Sacramento River shipping lane. Product came, product left—cogs in the wheels of the economy. But in this instance? No way. It was arson, and Claire just needed to wait for the fire investigator to show up and confirm it.

Holman Medical Supply Company, Inc., would soon be one less cog to muck it up for legitimate business people.

Claire deeply breathed in the fresh air as soon as she cleared the building, then leaned against a cement wall to write up questions for warehouse-owner Holman.

He didn’t know Claire had security tape from the warehouse three down that showed him driving up the day before the fire started. He didn’t know she had a copy of the manifest filed with customs in San Francisco. And he would certainly deny knowing where the missing goods were, though she had a contact who said an unusually large supply of syringes had shown up on the streets yesterday.

Ben Holman was just one more pathetic human being who proved that no one could be trusted.

Claire drained the rest of her lukewarm latte, stuffed her notebook and camera back into her pack, and stretched, hoping the investigator wouldn’t be late. She wanted to write up the report and meet her veterinarian at her house at noon. Dr. Jim made house calls, at least for her. She had started toward her Jeep when she heard a deep male voice.

“Claire.”

At the familiar voice, she dropped her cup and pack, reaching for the gun she carried in a belt holster in the small of her back, and began to turn when someone from behind grabbed her arm, bending it up and back. She aimed a perfect kick to her attacker’s balls, but he anticipated the move and sidestepped it, spinning her around and pushing her against the cement wall she’d been leaning on, knocking the wind out of her.

“Claire, stop. I need five minutes. Please.”

Daddy.

Raw anger and deep sadness always accompanied any thoughts of her father. But here—now, in person—the anger and sadness were magnified. She heard nothing, felt nothing, saw nothing, except the familiar stranger in front of her. Heard him breathing, felt his heart beating as her arms were trapped between her chest and his, saw the plea in his vivid blue eyes, eyes like her own.

Once, she had loved him. Trusted him. Worshipped him. She remembered the past with such clarity that it took her breath away.

He looked so much older now. Of course he did. She’d never visited him in prison. She hadn’t seen him in fifteen years, since the trial, since she’d testified for the prosecution against her own father.

It had been nearly four months since Tom O’Brien had escaped from prison during the San Quentin Earthquake. Four months and no word except that her father had become some sort of a dark hero, helping authorities capture the other escapees, while slipping away undetected. She’d talked repeatedly with local and federal cops, endured weeks of stakeouts outside her home, sacrificing her privacy. For a while, she even thought he was dead. And when she finally believed he had disappeared for good, he showed up here. Now. Like a ghost.

Love and hatred for this man overwhelmed Claire.

Tears welled up in her eyes. To force them back she pictured the dead, bloody body of her mother. Fifteen years might have seemed like a lifetime, but the sight and smell of blood was as fresh in her senses as if Claire had walked in on the murder this morning.

Daddy.

She pushed against him, but he had her pinned tightly to the wall. Her gun dug into her back, and the pepper spray on her keychain was in her pocket, out of reach.

“Claire, I don’t have a lot of time. The Feds are watching you.”

“Were,” she said.

“Are,” he contradicted. “I know you don’t believe me, that you never believed me, but I didn’t kill your mother. And I have proof.”

“I didn’t believe you then, and I don’t believe you now.”

His face hardened, but his eyes watered. Looking at her father was like looking at an older, masculine version of herself.

They’d done so much together before that awful, life-ending day. Biking. Skiing. Camping. She desperately wanted to believe him because they’d been “two peas in a pod,” as her mother used to say.

The mother he had killed.

Claire knew the truth. It was as much her fault as his, but he was the one who’d pulled the trigger and coldly killed two people.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” she said, surprising herself as her throat swallowed the tremble in her voice. “I should never have told you about Mom’s affair. It was childish of me. I just didn’t know then that everyone lies, cheats, and steals for personal gain.”

He looked as if she’d hit him. “None of that was your fault, Claire. Your mother had had affairs before.”

“That’s what you said at the trial, but—”

“It’s true.”

“It was convenient for you. And would it really matter? Even if she’d screwed around with a dozen men it wouldn’t change the fact that Mom and her current lover were screwing in your bed when you walked in and shot them.”

She was on a roll. She stared at him, remembered that he had been convicted in a court of law by twelve jurors. He’d been convicted of murder, and few innocent people went to prison.

“You would have said anything to get out of prison. The D.A. offered you a plea. You didn’t have to get the death penalty! You could have pled guilty. Maybe if you’d just admitted the truth I could have lived with it, I could have forgiven you, but you just lied and lied and—”

“I wasn’t lying,” he insisted, his jaw tight. “Everything I told you then was the truth.”

“The evidence showed—”

“The evidence was circumstantial. Someone framed me. I have proof.”

“What proof? If you had proof, why didn’t you bring it up during one of your half-dozen appeals? Have your attorney petition the court? There is no proof that you’re innocent.”

“And there was no proof that I was guilty!” he shouted in her ear, his voice shaking. “It was all circumstantial, Claire. A setup. A frame—”

“Yeah, so why don’t you go find the real killer?”

“Dammit!” He took a deep breath. “I need to find Oliver Maddox. I know he spoke to you in January before”—he paused—“the earthquake.”

“Before you escaped from prison? Let’s call a spade a spade, Daddy, okay? No bullshit. You’re an escaped killer and they’ll shoot first, and frankly, no one gives a shit about your answers.”

Claire’s insides were twisted and burning. She’d never talked to her father like that, had never raised her voice or sworn at him.

Don’t think of him as your father. He’s an escaped prisoner. A convict. A murderer.

His hardened, but pain lit his eyes. “Oliver Maddox has information I need to prove my innocence. He works with the Western Innocence Project. I tried calling him, but his phone isn’t working. I can’t very well go looking for him. I think someone scared him into hiding. I need your help to find him. I don’t have anyone else to turn to, Claire.”

She blinked back tears. More lies from her father. “After I talked to Maddox, I did a little research. I’m good at that. He’s just a law student, not even an attorney. Doesn’t even work for the Western Innocence Project—he was an intern last summer. They were never going to take up your case.”

Her father shook his head. “That’s not true. Oliver planned on meeting me the week before the earthquake. He said he had information about Lydia’s lover, Chase Taverton. Evidence that he was the primary target. Taverton was a prosecutor. If he was the target, that opens an entire pool of suspects, and the detectives barely looked at that possibility.”

“You’re grasping at straws—”

“Oliver has even more information,” he continued quickly, “but he never showed for our meeting, and I couldn’t reach him. The next day, I was transferred into the general prison population.”

“They don’t put cops in with the general population.”

“Something happened. Someone got to him—”

“I haven’t spoken to Oliver Maddox since I kicked him out of my house months ago when I found out he’d lied to me. He lied to me, and he lied to you. He was just a kid jerking your chain, he didn’t have the Project behind him, and he probably didn’t know anything that would help you unless he made it up. You were a cop once. You should know how many killers claim they’re innocent.”

“I am!”

“So who did it? In the twenty minutes between when I left the house and called you and you walked in, who broke into our house and killed them? And why? You know, Dad, usually the most obvious answer is the correct one.”

“I’m so sorry, Claire, but you have to believe me. The only reason I care about proving my innocence is to prove it to you. I don’t want you looking at me the way you are right now. I want my little girl back.”

“I’m not a little girl.” She found it hard to catch her breath. She couldn’t think, she just wanted him to disappear.

“I know.” His voice quivered. “Please, Claire, I’m risking everything coming to you. I need your help. I can’t do this on my own. I went to the campus, his house, couldn’t find him. I couldn’t ask more questions without drawing attention. I need to find out where he went and exactly what he knew, get him to tell the truth no matter who threatened him. Working for Rogan-Caruso Protective Services, you have access to far more information and resources than I do.”

“Why would I help you? I could lose everything I’ve built since you went to prison,” she said. “My career, my PI license, my home. I don’t want to go to jail.”

“Claire. Please.”

The quiet plea twisted her heart. “Go away. Leave me alone.”

“I don’t have anyone else,” he whispered.

She spoke equally quietly. “Well, then, you don’t have anyone, Dad.”

A truck turned onto the road heading for the warehouse.

“Think about this, Claire. Think about me. I’m not a killer. You know that in your heart.”

To prevent her from pursuing him, he pushed her down. “I’m sorry,” he called as he ran in the opposite direction of the approaching truck.

Claire slowly pulled herself up. She might have been able to chase after and catch her father, but what would she do? Shoot him in the back?

Instead she put her hands on her knees and fought to regain some semblance of control over her emotions. To try and forget the pain in her father’s eyes. To try and forget the pain twisting in her heart.

The truck belonged to the arson investigator, Pete Jackson. He got out, looked at Claire with a frown. “You okay, Ms. O’Brien?”

She faked a half smile as she stretched. “Fine. The sooty air just got to me.”

“I told you not to go in until I got here.”

“Sorry. Why don’t you walk me through it?”

“You must already have your own conclusion.”

“I need you to prove it.”

“Lucky for you I already have the proof your company needs. Found the hot spot and identified the accelerant. The burn pattern indicates not only arson, but an amateur.”

“Too cheap to fork over for a professional,” Claire muttered.

As she followed Pete Jackson into the warehouse, she glanced over her shoulder, looking for her father. Tom O’Brien was nowhere to be seen.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t around.

Customer Reviews

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Playing Dead (Prison Break Trilogy Series #3) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
Darsey_spudnick More than 1 year ago
Lots of characters to keep track of while trying to figure out who's doing all the killing. Fifteen years ago, Tom O'Brien was convicted of killing his wife and her lover. Now he's a fugitive back in Sacramento trying to prove his innocence and reconnect with his grown daughter. FBI agent Mitch Bianchi befriends Claire O'Brien under false pretenses to try to recapture her dad. A law student who was reviewing Tom's original case finds errors in the proceedings and ends up dead. Claire and the FBI try to follow the law student's leads and the twisted plot eventually unravels. Pay attention, lots to keep track of. Not great, not too bad.
24girl More than 1 year ago
Playing Dead is the final book in the Prison Break Trilogy but in my opinion it is a stand alone book. There are quite a few references to things that occurred in the previous books but not so much that I was lost since I hadn¿t read the previous books.

Fifteen years ago, Claire O¿Brien¿s mother and her lover were brutally murdered. Claire¿s father Tom, a police officer, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. During a recent earthquake Tom, along with other fugitives, escaped from San Quentin and now in addition to hunting down and turning in his fellow escapees Tom has to prove his innocence to the one person that matters¿his daughter, Claire.

Claire never believed his claim of innocence and she did her best to shut him out of her life. She sees the world as right and wrong and doesn¿t have any interest in listening to her father¿s pleas until she learns that the one person who believed Tom was murdered as he got too close to the truth behind the murders.

FBI agent Mitch Bianchi also has a stake in finding out the truth. He¿s befriended Claire under false pretenses and has fallen in love with her. As Claire starts investigating the crime, Mitch can¿t share with her who he really is and all he can do is hope to keep her safe while finding out what really happened fifteen years ago.

This was a fast paced read with a lot of twists and turns. I loved the way the truth slowly weaves together all the side characters in the story. The killer¿s identity was a complete surprise to me which rarely happens with most suspense books I read. I loved the writing style and I definitely want to go back and read books one and two. I highly recommend this to all romantic suspense lovers.
Lollypop99 More than 1 year ago
This book was much better than Allison Brennan's previous book. The plot was great and was actually "on the edge" reading. I read it in two days and was pleased she had returned to her original writing style. I will continue to purchase her books.
Flustered More than 1 year ago
Great beach read. Decent plot, kept me guessing and engaged.
Jenrae More than 1 year ago
Fast paced, thrilling, edge of your seat suspense. Keeps you guessing till the end. You'll be hard pressed to figure out the killer....you just won't see it coming.
hippolytus on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Brennan is an expert at creating tough, realistic heroines. Her action sequences are taut and suspenseful, and her ability to deliver solid thrillers is rare. That said, there's nothing really new here. This is the third in the Prison Break series, and it shows. Brennan's a solid, capable author and her stories are unquestionably good, but break no new ground and are in danger of becoming repetitive.
julyso on LibraryThing 25 days ago
As a teenage, Claire O'Brien, comes home to find her mother and her mother's lover shot dead and her father holding the gun. Tom O'Brien was was framed and now he has to prove it to live, but especially to win his daughter back. Her father is freed from San Quentin when there is an earthquake, giving him the chance to ask Claire for her help. Claire is now an investigator herself and she also wants to find the answers to what happened. She also has some other help with this, an attactive FBI agent, who is also telling her lies. I had a hard time summarizing this book because I found it very confusing. I didn't find the story fast-paced, rather, I had a really hard time finishing it. I did not connect with the characters and there were so many that I couldn't even keep them straight. The only reason I finished this book is because it was an Early Reviewers book, otherwise I would have given up a long time ago!
LadyLilac1950 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I really enjoyed this book but it would have been even better had I been able to read the first two books in this trilogy. The action was good, the characters believable and the suspense was great. The book was hard to put down. I would never have guessed the true bad guy ... the clues and misleads were really good. I was surprised at who the bad guy turned out to be. I've always enjoy reading this author and I will continue to get her books. She never disappoints, she can always be counted on for great reading enjoyment.
she_climber on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I loved this book. I hadn't read the first two in the series previously when I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers, but before I was done I went ahead and ordered books 1 & 2: I was enjoying it that much. It was fast paced and had me wanting to know more. I really liked Claire O'Brien as a main character, she was tough, smart and independent. I definitely have a new author to add to my list of the others serial writers that I follow and I'm looking forward to getting up to speed with the first two.
Oogod on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Got this one as an Early Reviewer. This was my first book by Brennan and I won't hesitate to pick up another. Great character development and story line all the way to the end.
hellonicole on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I just could not get into 'Playing Dead'. I liked the premise, and like a previous reviewer, I do think the book is well written, but I just couldn't get myself emotionally invested in the characters. This may be one of those books that I go back and reread months from now and enjoy, and it has gotten me curious in Allison Brennan's other books.
24girl on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Playing Dead is the final book in the Prison Break Trilogy but in my opinion it is a stand alone book. There are quite a few references to things that occurred in the previous books but not so much that I was lost since I hadn¿t read the previous books. Fifteen years ago, Claire O¿Brien¿s mother and her lover were brutally murdered. Claire¿s father Tom, a police officer, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. During a recent earthquake Tom, along with other fugitives, escaped from San Quentin and now in addition to hunting down and turning in his fellow escapees Tom has to prove his innocence to the one person that matters¿his daughter, Claire. Claire never believed his claim of innocence and she did her best to shut him out of her life. She sees the world as right and wrong and doesn¿t have any interest in listening to her father¿s pleas until she learns that the one person who believed Tom was murdered as he got too close to the truth behind the murders. FBI agent Mitch Bianchi also has a stake in finding out the truth. He¿s befriended Claire under false pretenses and has fallen in love with her. As Claire starts investigating the crime, Mitch can¿t share with her who he really is and all he can do is hope to keep her safe while finding out what really happened fifteen years ago.This was a fast paced read with a lot of twists and turns. I loved the way the truth slowly weaves together all the side characters in the story. The killer¿s identity was a complete surprise to me which rarely happens with most suspense books I read. I loved the writing style and I definitely want to go back and read books one and two. I highly recommend this to all romantic suspense lovers.
lovemybooks on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I enjoy Allison Brennan's romantic suspense novels. Her heroes are always very sexy and her heroines are always strong. While I was not particulary into the mystery, I did care a lot about the couple in this book. I was a bit confused as to why Claire didn't believe her dad long before she did, but I can let these things go and enjoy the story. Brennan's prose is enjoyable and clear and I love the way she brings back recurring characters throughout her books. An enjoyable afternoon's read.
bill on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Like several reviewers, Playing Dead is the first Allison Brennan book I have read. Unlike some of those reviewers, hers is a genre I enjoy. But, I too have mixed emotions about this book. I enjoyed the story line; the complexity of the plot, the many characters, and the story was resolved to my satisfaction. Despite being a good read, I did not make an emotional connection with the primary characters. Claire O¿Brien believes her father murdered her mother and now questions her belief. She comes to this point in a perfectly logical manner, but it feels rather cold. I picture Claire being overcome with the emotions of what she has lost, of what her father must have experienced due to her rejection, of how she is going to move forward, but the reader has no insight to her inner thoughts and struggles. FBI agent Mitch Bianchi struggles with lying to Claire and the ethics of becoming emotionally involved with her. Again, these are heart wrenching internal struggles, debates, and questions of ethics. The reader learns Mitch is aware of these issues and is willing to accept them. It doesn¿t happen that easy in real life and the author misses the opportunity to explore some difficult issues in more depth. I suspect that is not the author¿s intention and that is her prerogative. For myself, it makes the read less compelling and less satisfying.
MonicaLynn on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I truly enjoyed this book. This is the first book I have read by this author. I will definately getting more of her books. It kept me reading from the get go. I enjoyed the descriptions and the not knowing who the actual killer was drove me nutty and made me want to read even more and faster. I was actually suprised at who the killer was and really didn't even suspect him until close to the time I found out. Great job and thank you LT for allowing me to be an early reviewer on this book.
Cherylk on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Claire O¿Brien knows all about liars. Her father, Tom is still lying even after being convicted fifteen years ago of murdering her mom and her mom¿s lover. Claire is now all grown up. Claire has only one regret and that is testifying against her father. Maybe that¿s why Claire wants so bad to believe her father is innocent, especially when Claire learns her father has escaped prison but is Claire setting herself up for a big heartache putting faith in her father. FBI agent, Mitch Bianchi has been following the O¿Brien case for a long time, so when he sees his chance to get close to Claire he seizes the opportunity.Unfortunately the more time Mitch spends with Claire, the harder it is for him to keep his secrets from her. All of Claire¿s digging makes her the prime target for a serial psychopath that will stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden. Playing Dead is the third and final book in Allison Brennan¿s Prison Break trilogy. I have enjoyed reading this trilogy, though I have to say not as much as Ms. Brennan¿s No Evil series. This book started out good and ended on a high note. I was glad to see that Claire was no wall flower, just because she was surrounded by lots of male testosterone. The mystery that FBI agents bring to the table I think really makes them sexy as well as attractive. Mitch definitely had both qualities, which made him a great male lead character in this story. I have been hooked on Ms. Brennan¿s book since I read her No Evil series and still remain a fan. I can¿t wait for her next series.
adeptmagic on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I keep trying Allison Brennan's books because I loved her first series (The Hunt, The Prey, The Kill), but nothing since then has even come close to that level, and Playing Dead is no exception.There's simultaneously too much in this book and not enough. There's too much backstory--both on the side of the good guys and on the side of the bad guys--and the conspiracy is far too big. One reviewer noted that the story is hard to follow and I think this is what was meant. There are so many criminals in the conspiracy it's just unwieldy. The tie between the "assassin" and the protagonist is thinly explained and not believable. It stretches credulity to the breaking point.On the other hand, there's not enough of the relationship between the two main characters. We are told how they feel, but Brennan spends no time convincing us of the depth or breadth of the feelings, so the book is emotionally unconvincing and unsatisfying.Brennan is a competent writer, and it's irritating to read something so empty from her. Skip this one. If you like strong romantic suspense, stick to her first trilogy.
leahsimone on LibraryThing 25 days ago
This is the first novel by Allison Brennan that I have read. And while it is not typically the genre I choose to read these days, romance and suspense are two elements I still enjoy in other genres.First of all, the romance wasn¿t terribly interesting. Typical man-under-cover-lies-to-woman-for-sake-of-his-job-but-then-falls-in-love-with-her. They have already met and had an ongoing relationship when the story begins. The big obstacle to their relationship comes when she finds out he has been lying to her ¿ standard romance fare.I didn¿t find the story to be that exciting either. I like complicated plots, but I thought the numerous ¿bad guys¿ and the several subplots weren¿t all that believable or maybe it¿s that they weren¿t all that compelling. Innocent man goes to jail, dirty politicians committing murder to further their careers, a snitch that just happens to witness said politicians committing murder, law student who figures it out, assassin nut job who is blackmailed by politicians and has been obsessed with protagonist for 15 years, etc. Sounds better than it reads. It just never really felt edge of your seat suspenseful.Despite the fact that the plot didn¿t really grab me, the story was put together reasonably well and the character¿s backgrounds were well explained. If this is the genre you enjoy you will find this entertaining. Just not for me.
ATechwreck on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Private Investigator Claire O¿Brien has finally found her soulmate, but isunaware that he is in fact an FBI agent searching for her father, anescaped criminal due to be executed for the murder of Claire¿s mother.When her father approaches pleading his innocence, Claire remainsconvinced that he is guilty and is reluctant to reopen the case or herheart. Thus develops a fast paced and well constructed investigation intothe 12 year old double murder. Politics, cover-ups, love, betrayal and anobsessed serial killer combine to keep you turning the pages!
midge0214 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Sentenced to death for crimes he didn¿t commit, ex-cop Tom O¿Brien is now a hunted fugitive. After fifteen years in prison, he¿s determined to prove his innocence¿but first he must convince his daughter, whose testimony helped put him behind bars, that he has damning evidence of a plot to frame him.Claire is no longer the naïve teenager who arrived home to find her mother and her mother¿s lover shot dead and her father holding the murder weapon. She¿s a successful fraud investigator who assumes everyone lies. Though Claire is convinced of her father¿s guilt, curiosity propels her to look into the disappearance of a law student who claimed to have proof of Tom¿s innocence. But seeking answers only leads to more questions, reinforcing Claire¿s belief that there¿s no one left to trust.Obsessed with the O¿Brien case, FBI agent Mitch Bianchi befriends Claire under false pretenses, certain that Tom is not only innocent but in grave danger¿and not just from the cops. As the three race toward the truth, a murderous conspiracy tightens its noose¿and Claire becomes the target of an ice-cold psychopath who will kill to protect his secrets.Since I¿m always eager to discover new authors, especially in the romantic suspense genre, I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, based on Playing Dead I won¿t be adding Allison Brennan to my ¿must read¿ list. I feel that the book has quite a few flaws and that its positive aspects aren¿t enough to convince me to overlook them.Let me start with the things I did like. The technical aspects of the story, such as legal issues and forensics, were nicely done. They are precise and fully addressed so that the reader has all the relevant information without being bogged down or distracted from the storyline. I also liked the pace of both the dialog and the story itself. I hate books that have tons of extraneous information or, even worse, conversations that take up so many pages you wonder how the characters have time to do anything else. There are a lot of details and characters in this book so swiftness to take action on all points is critical in keeping track.My first thought upon finishing this book was ¿why is this labeled as romantic suspense?¿ Reading Playing Dead brought to mind authors such as Patricia Cornwell and David Baldacci versus Anne Stuart or Linda Howard. While there is an established relationship between the two lead characters it is a secondary, if not tertiary, element. There is little time or attention devoted to it relative to the whole. As this is my first book by Ms. Brennan I have to wonder if her previous works have strong romantic elements. After all, authors are assigned to genres just as much as individual books are. No matter the case, the story was different than I had expected based on the description.While it isn¿t difficult to follow the plot of this book I did have trouble trying to figure out the author¿s intentions. The way it is written made me unsure of what was intentionally revealed to the reader and what was suppose to be a surprise. For instance, I knew within the first quarter of the book who ¿the assassin¿ is, but I have no idea if I should have. The way his identity is revealed at the end makes me think that perhaps I was supposed to be held in suspense, but with the information provided through his point of view it¿s impossible to stay in the dark that long.I had problems connecting with the hero and heroine of this book because, while a lot of background is given, neither is fleshed out well. I cared about the resolution of the story but not the characters themselves, making it an intellectual rather than engaging read for me. But my major problem with this book were the antagonists. In addition to the assassin there are three principal criminals at work. These three have been partners in crime for 30 years and how they managed to avoid arrest for that length of time is the true mystery of this story. These guys were so overzealous about not being ca
Bumpersmom on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I received this as an Early Reviewers Copy, and realizing it was the 3rd book of a trilogy, purchased and read the first two books before starting this one.Of the three, this is probably the best. It could easily stand alone, it is well written and the previous books do not really matter in understanding the storyline.Following an earthquake, and the escape of prisoners from San Quentin's death row, one escapee remains uncaptured. That escapee is Tom O'Brien, an ex-cop, convicted 15 years earlier for the murder of his wife and her lover. In the first two books of the series, he is mentioned and it appears that he has been instrumental in the capture of his fellow escapees, and saving the life of FBI Agent Mitch Bianchi.This is the only escapee who insists that he has been wrongly convicted, and wants to clear his name before turning himself in and being executed. His daughter has always believed him guilty, and her opinion is what matters most, he wants to prove to her that he didn't kill her mother.Allison Brennan unfolds a complex plot of how the crime was committed, and the many twists and motives that led to the murders.I enjoyed the book, and will look for her next series.
booboobad on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Good story, realistic characters. Allison Brennan is a great storyteller. I loved the interaction between Claire and her father and Claire and Mitch. These interactions make Claire someone you want to have as a friend. I always enjoy reading Allison Brennan's books.
crazy4reading on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I finally finished the book and have to say that this book is filled with suspense, mystery and romance.You are introduced to the characters and given the back ground information needed to know the basis of the book. Fifteen years ago, Claire O'Brien, then 14 decides to go home from school for lunch. She walks in on her mom and her mom's lover, an assistant district attorney. Claire calls her father because she is upset about finding her mom in that situation. Tom O'Brien decides to confront his wife and lover so that he can end this charade of a marriage. When he arrives at his house he finds his wife and her lover shot dead in bed. Claire is the one that sees her father in the room and assumes he killed her mother and the other man. She is the prime witness in her father's trial. Claire goes through years of believing her father is guilty, and starting a new life without him. An aspiring young attorney does research and discovers things that can prove her father's innocence. Claire does not believe the guy and ignores everything he tells her, until her father, who had escaped from prison during an earthquake, leaves Claire a note telling her everything she needs to know to try and clear his name. She is torn between wanting to believe her father is innocent and a murderer. The story is now set for a page turning, full suspense thriller that you won't be able to put down. The FBI does everything to capture the fugitive Tom O'Brien. There is one FBI agent, Mitch Bianchi, who believes Tom is innocent and befriends Claire. He wants to find Tom before the local PD does, otherwise Tom is a dead man. Mitch is falling for Claire, just as Claire starts to be able to trust someone. Once you start reading Playing Dead you will be pulled into the suspense, thrills, mystery and romance of the 3rd book of the Prison Break trilogy. If you haven't already picked up this book to read I suggest you do. I know I will be reading the first two books in this trilogy!!
WendyK on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Playing Dead by Allison BrennanRomantic Suspense Fast paced with thrills and chills. It has suspense, intrigue,murders, secrets & romance. It is a roller coaster of events. The plot is evident from the first page. It is intense and is not for the faint at heart. The characters are realistic and believable. You don't find out all the players until the every end, keeps you guessing. I would recommend this story. 4
hpalmete on LibraryThing 25 days ago
For a while now the "Trilogy" has been gaining popularity in the world of paperbacks. It irritated me at first as I was constantly picking up a novel which I though was stand alone only to realized 20 pages in that I had no idea what the author was talking about. I've made my peace with it at this point and was only mildly surprised when the same thing happened to me in the world of Early Reviewers. So after gathering the previous installments of the series I am now ready to proclaim it highly enjoyable. The series isn't highly demanding of the reader. Instead it weaves a (sometimes predictable) story that holds up well over the three books. If your looking for a novel in three parts to hold your attention from beginning to end, this is a good choice for you.