Ricochet

Ricochet

by Sandra Brown

Hardcover

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Seeing Red presents a spine-tingling story of murder and betrayal in high society Savannah, where a homicide detective finds his career—and life—on the line.

When Savannah detective Duncan Hatcher is summoned to an unusual crime scene, he knows discretion is key. Influential Judge Cato Laird's beloved trophy wife, Elise, has fatally shot a burglar. She claims self-defense, but Duncan suspects she's lying, and puts his career in jeopardy by investigating further. Then, in secret, Elise makes an incredible allegation, which he dismisses as the lie of a cunning woman trying to exploit his intense attraction to her. But when Elise goes missing, Duncan finds that trusting the wrong person could mean the difference between life and death for both of them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743289337
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/15/2006
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Sandra Brown is the author of sixty-eight 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.

Hometown:

Arlington, TX

Date of Birth:

March 12, 1948

Place of Birth:

Waco, Texas

Education:

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008

Read an Excerpt

Ricochet

A Novel
By Sandra Brown

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2006 Sandra Brown
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0743289331

From Chapter 3

There hadn't been a peep out of Savich since the severed tongue incident. The lab at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had confirmed that it had indeed belonged to Freddy Morris, but that left them no closer to pinning his murder on Savich.

Savich was free. He was free to continue his lucrative drug trafficking, free to kill anyone who crossed him. And Duncan knew that somewhere on Savich's agenda, he was an annotation. Probably his name had a large asterisk beside it.

He tried not to dwell on it. He had other cases, other responsibilities, but it gnawed at him constantly that Savich was out there, biding his time, waiting for the right moment to strike. These days Duncan exercised a bit more caution, was a fraction more vigilant, never went anywhere unarmed. But it wasn't really fear he felt. More like anticipation.

On this night, that supercharged feeling of expectation was keeping him awake. He'd sought refuge from the restlessness by playing his piano. In the darkness of his living room, he was tinkering with a tune of his own composition when his telephone rang.

He glanced at the clock. Work. Nobody calledat 1:34 in the morning to report that there hadn't been a killing. He answered on the second ring. "Yeah?"

Early in their partnership, he and DeeDee had made a deal. She would be the first one called if they were needed at the scene of a homicide. Between the two of them, he was the one more likely to sleep through a ringing telephone. She was the caffeine junkie and a light sleeper by nature.

He expected the caller to be her and it was. "Were you asleep?" she asked cheerfully.

"Sort of."

"Playing the piano?"

"I don't play the piano."

"Right. Well, stop whatever it is you're doing. We're on."

"Who iced whom?"

"You won't believe it. Pick me up in ten."

"Where -- " But he was talking to air. She'd hung up.

He went upstairs, dressed, and slipped on his holster. Within two minutes of his partner's call, he was in his car.

He lived in a town house in the historic district of downtown, only blocks from the police station -- the venerable redbrick building known to everyone in Savannah as "the Barracks."

At this hour, the narrow, tree-shrouded streets were deserted. He eased through a couple of red lights on his way out Abercorn Street. DeeDee lived on a side street off that main thoroughfare in a neat duplex with a tidy patch of yard. She was pacing it when he pulled up to the curb.

She got in quickly and buckled her seat belt. Then she cupped her armpits in turn. "I'm already sweating like a hoss. How can it be this hot and sticky at this time of night?"

"Lots of things are hot and sticky at this time of night."

"You've been hanging around with Worley too much."

He grinned. "Where to?"

"Get back on Abercorn."

"What's on the menu tonight?"

"A shooting."

"Convenience store?"

"Brace yourself." She took a deep breath and expelled it. "The home of Judge Cato Laird."

Duncan whipped his head toward her, and only then remembered to brake. The car came to an abrupt halt, pitching them both forward before their seat belts restrained them.

"That's the sum total of what I know," she said in response to his incredulity. "I swear. Somebody at the Laird house was shot and killed."

"Did they say -- "

"No. I don't know who."

Facing forward again, he dragged his hand down his face, then took his foot off the brake and applied it heavily to the accelerator. Tires screeched, rubber burned as he sped along the empty streets.

It had been two weeks since the awards dinner, but in quiet moments, and sometimes even during hectic ones, he would experience a flashback to his encounter with Elise Laird. Brief as it had been, tipsy as he'd been, he recalled it vividly: the features of her face, the scent of her perfume, the catch in her throat when he'd said what he had. What a jerk. She was a beautiful woman who had done nothing to deserve the insult. To think she might be dead . . .

He cleared his throat. "I don't know where I'm going."

"Ardsley Park. Washington Street." DeeDee gave him the address. "Very ritzy."

He nodded.

"You okay, Duncan?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"I mean, do you feel funny about this?"

"Funny?"

"Come on," she said with asperity. "The judge isn't one of your favorite people."

"Doesn't mean I hope he's dead."

"I know that. I'm just saying."

He shot her a hard look. "Saying what?"

"See? That's what I'm talking about. You overreact every time his name comes up. He's a raw nerve with you."

"He gave Savich a free pass and put me in jail."

"And you made an ass of yourself with his wife," she said, matching his tone. "You still haven't told me what you said to her. Was it that bad?"

"What makes you think I said something bad?"

"Because otherwise you would have told me."

He took a corner too fast, ran a stop sign.

"Look, Duncan, if you can't treat this like any other investigation, I need to know."

"It is any other investigation."

But when he turned onto Washington and saw in the next block the emergency vehicles, his mouth went dry. The street was divided by a wide median of sprawling oak trees and camellia and azalea bushes. On both sides were stately homes built decades earlier by old money.

He honked his way through the pajama-clad neighbors clustered in the street, and leaned on the horn to move a video cameraman and a reporter who were setting up their shot of the immaculately maintained lawn and the impressive Colonial house with the four fluted columns supporting the second-story balcony. People out for a Sunday drive might slow down to admire the home. Now it was the scene of a fatal shooting.

"How'd the television vans get here so fast? They always beat us," DeeDee complained.

Duncan brought his car to a stop beside the ambulance and got out. Immediately he was assailed with questions from onlookers and reporters. Turning a deaf ear to them, he started toward the house. "You got gloves?" he asked DeeDee over his shoulder. "I forgot gloves."

"You always do. I've got spares."

DeeDee had to take two steps for every one of his as he strode up the front walkway, lined on both sides with carefully tended beds of begonias. Crime scene tape had already been placed around the house. The beat cop at the door recognized them and lifted the tape high enough for them to duck under. "Inside to the left," he said.

"Don't let anyone set foot on the lawn," Duncan instructed the officer. "In fact, keep everybody on the other side of the median."

"Another unit is on the way to help contain the area."

"Good. Forensics?"

"Got here quick."

"Who called the press?"

The cop shrugged in reply.

Duncan entered the massive foyer. The floor was white marble with tiny black squares placed here and there. A staircase hugged a curving wall up to the second floor. Overhead was a crystal chandelier turned up full. There was an enormous arrangement of fresh flowers on a table with carved gilded legs that matched the tall mirror above it.

"Niiiiice," DeeDee said under her breath.

Another uniformed policeman greeted them by name, then motioned with his head toward a wide arched opening to the left. They entered what appeared to be the formal living room. The fireplace was pink marble. Above the mantel was an ugly oil still life of a bowl of fresh vegetables and a dead rabbit. A long sofa with a half dozen fringed pillows faced a pair of matching chairs. Between them was another table with gold legs. A pastel carpet covered the polished hardwood floor, and all of it was lighted by a second chandelier.

Judge Laird, his back to them, was sitting in one of the chairs.

Realizing the logical implication of seeing the judge alive, Duncan felt his stomach drop.

The judge's elbows were braced on his knees, his head down. He was speaking softly to a cop named Crofton, who was balanced tentatively on the edge of the sofa cushion, as though afraid he might get it dirty.

"Elise went downstairs, but that wasn't unusual," Duncan heard the judge say in a voice that was ragged with emotion. He glanced up at the policeman and added, "Chronic insomnia."

Crofton looked sympathetic. "What time was this? That she went downstairs."

"I woke up, partially, when she left the bed. Out of habit, I glanced at the clock on the night table. It was twelve thirty-something. I think." He rubbed his forehead. "I think that's right. Anyway, I dozed off again. The . . . the shots woke me up."

He was saying that someone other than he had shot and killed his wife. Who else was in this house tonight? Duncan wondered.

"I raced downstairs," he continued. "Ran from room to room. I was . . . frantic, a madman. I called her name. Over and over. When I got to the study . . ." His head dropped forward again. "I saw her there, slumped behind the desk."

Duncan felt as though a fist had closed around his throat. He was finding it hard to breathe.

DeeDee nudged him. "Dothan's here."

Dr. Dothan Brooks, medical examiner for Chatham County, was a fat man and made no apology for it. He knew better than anyone that fatty foods could kill you, but he defiantly ate the worst diet possible. He said that he'd seen far worse ways to die than complications from obesity. Considering the horrific manners of death he'd seen over the course of his own career, Duncan thought he might have a point.

As the ME approached them, he removed the latex gloves from his hands and used a large white handkerchief to mop his sweating forehead, which had taken on the hue of a raw steak. "Detectives." He always sounded out of breath and probably was.

"You beat us here," DeeDee said.

"I don't live far." Looking around, he added with a trace of bitterness, "Definitely at the poorer edge of the neighborhood. This is some place, huh?"

"What have we got?"

"A thirty-eight straight through the heart. Frontal entry. Exit wound in the back. Death was instantaneous. Lots of blood, but, as shootings go, it was fairly neat."

To cover his discomposure, Duncan took the pair of latex gloves DeeDee passed him.

"Can we have a look-see?" she asked.

Brooks stepped aside and motioned them toward the end of the long foyer. "In the study." As they walked, he glanced overhead. "I could send one of my kids to an Ivy League college for what that chandelier cost."

"Who else has been in there?" DeeDee asked.

"The judge. First cops on the scene. Swore they didn't touch anything. I waited on your crime scene boys, didn't go in till they gave me the go-ahead. They're still in there, gathering trace evidence and trying to get a name off the guy."

"Guy?" Duncan stopped in his tracks. "The shooter is in custody?"

Dothan Brooks turned and looked at the two of them with perplexity. "Hasn't anybody told y'all what happened here?"

"Obviously not," DeeDee replied.

"The dead man in the study was an intruder," he said. "Mrs. Laird shot him. She's your shooter."

Movement at the top of the staircase drew their gazes upward. Elise Laird was making her way down the stairs followed by a policewoman in uniform.

Copyright © 2006 by Sandra Brown Management Ltd.

Continues...


Excerpted from Ricochet by Sandra Brown Copyright © 2006 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.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
SUMMARY:
Elisa Laird is her husband's pride and joy. A trophy wife ten years his junior, she ably performs the societal duties that her husband's career dictates. Nothing is more important to Judge Laird than his station in the community. And his three passions are well known: his golf game, his bench, and his wife. So when homicide detectives Duncan Hatcher and his partner Dee Dee Bowen are summoned to the Laird's home in the middle of the night, they know that discretion and a quick, thorough investigation are the keys to keeping their jobs. Elise and the Judge claim that Elise fired her pistol at a man who was burglarizing her husband's study. It's an open and shut case, at first glance. But Elise is acting strange. Dee Dee doesn't fall for her "victim" act, instead seeing Elise as a beautiful manipulator whose actions just don't make sense. Despite himself and his partner's warnings, Duncan finds himself falling for the frightened woman, and jeopardizing his own life to find out whether the Judge has hidden reasons for his wife to "disappear."
It's a deadly game filled with lies, seductions, and tragic pasts. Duncan and Elise may spend their lives looking over their shoulders, if they can survive each other's betrayals . . .

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Water plays a large role in Ricochet. Find examples of the different forms of water found in the novel. Why does Ms. Brown choose to use water as such a prevalent image? What effect does it have on the story and for what might it be a metaphor? How does water help to build tension?
  2. Ms. Brown sets the story in Savannah, Georgia. Does the story have a "southern feel"? What would be the effect on the tale if it were set, for instance, in the desert or in snowy upstate New York? What role does location play, and what other details does Ms. Brown use to create atmosphere?
  3. There seems to be an underlying biblical meaning to the story. Duncan is the child of ministers and there are references made throughout the novel to such things as "redemption" and even to Elise rising from the dead. Discuss the novel as it relates to the bible. Who represents Satan, the snake, etc., and why? Who is "born again" and who gains redemption? Is there a Christ figure in the story?
  4. Although Duncan is a handsome man he doesn't have a girlfriend. What do you think he is waiting for? Beside her physical attributes, why is Duncan attracted to Elise? What does she represent to him? Do they have any similarities that might explain why they fall in love?
  5. Duncan plays the piano, yet he doesn't want anyone to know about his talent. Why is he so secretive about his passion? How does Ms. Brown use the piano to illuminate the development of Duncan's character?
  6. Compare and contrast Dee Dee and Elise. Why doesn't Dee Dee trust Elise? Could they be friends under different circumstances?
  7. Elise decides to marry Cato in order to get revenge for her brother's death. Why might her character do this? Are there any other ways she might have gotten information on Cato and Savich?
  8. Why does Duncan risk his career in order to catch Savich? Does he do it out of love, or does he have a sense of obligation or duty? Is there anything in his background that explains his determination?
  9. Many of the main characters in the novel are flawed, yet they could still be considered heroes. What makes a hero? Who do you think is the hero of Ricochet, and why? Who are the antagonists?
  10. What does power signify in the world of the story? Does each character have his or her own unique power? If so, discuss what they are and their ramifications.
  11. What is the message of the novel? Is revenge a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think Ms. Brown is saying that the end justifies the means? Give some examples of how this is illustrated in the story.


ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB:
  1. Ricochet is set in Georgia, so when discussing the novel treat yourselves to a meal at a southern restaurant. Or if there isn't one nearby, try making your own southern delicacies: http://myweb.cableone.net/howle/page/soudex.htm or http://teriskitchen.com/southern.html. Also check out Damon Lee Fowler's New Southern Baking: http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfmfitab=1&pid=511205.
  2. Look into other novels/plays set in the South: the works of Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, etc.
  3. For more information on Sandra Brown go to her website: http://www.sandrabrown.net/

Introduction

Reading Group Guide

SUMMARY:

Elisa Laird is her husband's pride and joy. A trophy wife ten years his junior, she ably performs the societal duties that her husband's career dictates. Nothing is more important to Judge Laird than his station in the community. And his three passions are well known: his golf game, his bench, and his wife. So when homicide detectives Duncan Hatcher and his partner Dee Dee Bowen are summoned to the Laird's home in the middle of the night, they know that discretion and a quick, thorough investigation are the keys to keeping their jobs. Elise and the Judge claim that Elise fired her pistol at a man who was burglarizing her husband's study. It's an open and shut case, at first glance. But Elise is acting strange. Dee Dee doesn't fall for her "victim" act, instead seeing Elise as a beautiful manipulator whose actions just don't make sense. Despite himself and his partner's warnings, Duncan finds himself falling for the frightened woman, and jeopardizing his own life to find out whether the Judge has hidden reasons for his wife to "disappear."

It's a deadly game filled with lies, seductions, and tragic pasts. Duncan and Elise may spend their lives looking over their shoulders, if they can survive each other's betrayals . . .

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Water plays a large role in Ricochet. Find examples of the different forms of water found in the novel. Why does Ms. Brown choose to use water as such a prevalent image? What effect does it have on the story and for what might it be a metaphor? How does water help to build tension?
  2. Ms. Brown sets the story in Savannah, Georgia.Does the story have a "southern feel"? What would be the effect on the tale if it were set, for instance, in the desert or in snowy upstate New York? What role does location play, and what other details does Ms. Brown use to create atmosphere?
  3. There seems to be an underlying biblical meaning to the story. Duncan is the child of ministers and there are references made throughout the novel to such things as "redemption" and even to Elise rising from the dead. Discuss the novel as it relates to the bible. Who represents Satan, the snake, etc., and why? Who is "born again" and who gains redemption? Is there a Christ figure in the story?
  4. Although Duncan is a handsome man he doesn't have a girlfriend. What do you think he is waiting for? Beside her physical attributes, why is Duncan attracted to Elise? What does she represent to him? Do they have any similarities that might explain why they fall in love?
  5. Duncan plays the piano, yet he doesn't want anyone to know about his talent. Why is he so secretive about his passion? How does Ms. Brown use the piano to illuminate the development of Duncan's character?
  6. Compare and contrast Dee Dee and Elise. Why doesn't Dee Dee trust Elise? Could they be friends under different circumstances?
  7. Elise decides to marry Cato in order to get revenge for her brother's death. Why might her character do this? Are there any other ways she might have gotten information on Cato and Savich?
  8. Why does Duncan risk his career in order to catch Savich? Does he do it out of love, or does he have a sense of obligation or duty? Is there anything in his background that explains his determination?
  9. Many of the main characters in the novel are flawed, yet they could still be considered heroes. What makes a hero? Who do you think is the hero of Ricochet, and why? Who are the antagonists?
  10. What does power signify in the world of the story? Does each character have his or her own unique power? If so, discuss what they are and their ramifications.
  11. What is the message of the novel? Is revenge a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think Ms. Brown is saying that the end justifies the means? Give some examples of how this is illustrated in the story.

ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB:

  1. Ricochet is set in Georgia, so when discussing the novel treat yourselves to a meal at a southern restaurant. Or if there isn't one nearby, try making your own southern delicacies: http://myweb.cableone.net/howle/page/soudex.htm or http://teriskitchen.com/southern.html. Also check out Damon Lee Fowler's New Southern Baking: http://www.simonsays.com/content/book.cfm?tab=1&pid=511205.
  2. Look into other novels/plays set in the South: the works of Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, etc.
  3. For more information on Sandra Brown go to her website: http://www.sandrabrown.net/

SANDRA BROWN is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers—including most recently Smash Cut, Smoke Screen, Play Dirty, Ricochet, Chill Factor, White Hot, Hello, Darkness, The Crush, and Envy.  She is the recipient of the 2008 Thriller Master Award from International Thriller Writers, Inc. She and her husband live in Arlington, Texas.

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Ricochet 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please do not retell the stories in your reviews...it spoils it for those of us who have not read the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not real fimiliar with Sandra Brown but a friend recommended this book and thank goodness she did! I had a hard time putting it down and when I did I couldn't stop thinking about it. It is well written and descriptive, at times it felt like a movie rather an book. Just when you think you have it all figured out the book turns and twists. The characters are loveable (especially Duncan), complexed, and entertaining. This book is more about the thrill rather than the romance, but when there is romanace WOW! Very steamy! Great book, would recommend it anybody that enjoys a good steamy, suspenseful story!
FER70 More than 1 year ago
This is one of Sandra Brown's better books. Full of mystery adn a little lovin' too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Worth every penny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This would make a great movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book by sandra brown
al70 More than 1 year ago
never read anything by sandra brown, but really enjoyed this book, lots of twists and turns. I thoough I had it all figured out a couple times, but I was wrong!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did like the book but I had 3-men tell me this was one of the BEST books they have ever read so I thought well it must be great. This is my first Sandra Brown book and I will try another one but ricochet was not that great to me.
DonnaJWolfe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Judge Laird's trophy wife has shot a burglar. Duncan Hatcher has to figure it out. Good beach read.
LivelyLady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Police drama set in Savannah involving a detective, a judge, his wife, and a collection of unsavory characters....crossing and double crossing each other to a surprise ending. How wonderful to find a new author with so many books to her credit. Like finding money!
RelaxedReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book you do not want to miss. I always enjoy Sandra Brown books. This book was a real page turner.
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This wasn¿t Sandra Brown¿s best, but it¿s not her worst, either. The good was Brown¿s ability to build suspense ¿ she¿s one of the best. But not all of the characters worked for me. Duncan was a little too ruled by his hormones, and sometimes had mood swings that didn¿t make much sense. His partner, DeeDee, was essentially the stereotypical homely girl who automatically hates anyone who is pretty whether she has a reason to or not. Elise is intended to be a mystery. You¿re never quite sure which side of the equation she¿s on, even at the end.Also, the revenge plot that is the reason for everything made absolutely no sense to me. Without giving away too much, I don¿t know what the person wanting revenge was thinking ¿ they had no exit strategy. For a supposedly intelligent person, it was weak.But, Brown does make you think hard about who you suspect and why, and that¿s one of the reasons why I read her books.
lwatson1120 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first novel by Sandra Brown, and I was quite happy with it. I am especially happy that she has such an arsenal of books I can read. ¿Ricochet¿ has you guessing until the very end. It was an exceptional thriller. I would recommend this book to all. I cannot wait to read another by Mrs. Sandra Brown.
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