“Who better to commit such perfect crimes … than a former policeman who wrote ingenious novels? He knew how to cover evidence and plug up holes in a plot.” (a quote from the book, from the heroine’s POV while escaping her as-yet-unidentified killer)
If only Sandra Brown knew those things when she wrote this book! It would have been a much more convincing murder mystery. Oh, all those really bad, bad villains – Cyclops, Paul Reyes, even Bill Webster – those guys were b-b-b-bad to the bone. And yet, I knew from the outset which character was The Murderer. Yep, that character was bad in the reveal scene – very B-movie bad.
Cat Delaney is the popular soap star who gets a heart transplant and starts a new life, helping foster children find their forever homes. But 3 years after her transplant, she starts to receive news clippings that show other transplantees who died mysterious, possibly accidental deaths on the anniversaries of their operations. Here’s a clue: there was a big highway pileup and four people got transplanted hearts all on the same day – and now Cat is the last one living. Alex Pierce is the former policeman who wrote ingenious novels (see above) – he and Cat have a love-at-first-sight-but-adversarial relationship, as he helps her try to find the potential killer and prevent her own death on the 4th anniversary of her transplant. And Alex is keeping some pretty big secrets of his own…
Among things I didn’t like about this story were several descriptive sex scenes between minor characters – I won’t say who, for spoilers, but really, while love scenes between the hero and heroine can move the plot and relationship forward, I don’t really need to hear about other characters in the sack, especially the ones having demeaning, violent and/or illicit sex. To be fair, I still like Sandra Brown’s word-crafting, but the actual plot had a ton of holes and coincidences, and way too many b-b-b-bad guys. It makes it hard for me to rate!
Natalie Ross has done a bang-up job with several narrations that I’ve really enjoyed, most notably Linda Howard’s After the Night. Even in Charade, she does a great job – good, differentiated and consistent character voices. But she does that thing I don’t like – voicing non-verbal cues writers give, like sighs and chuckles. I prefer to hear just the actual words the author wrote and don’t need to hear the character laugh, sob, sigh. But even her otherwise great narration couldn’t bring this story up to par – in fact, maybe if I had enjoyed the story more, I wouldn’t have noticed those mannerisms. Too much misdirection and too many characters with way too coincidental motivation – I like a suspense when I’m surprised at the outcome, but by the time all the threads – this time there were about 8 “intertwined lives” – came together at the end, I was rolling my eyes. I already knew it wasn’t any of them, no matter how Brown tried to buffalo me!
Charade was provided to AudioGals for review by Brilliance Audio.
Editor’s Note – In keeping with our Sandra Brown Week’s theme, Brown’s evolving writing style, Charade’s original publication date is 1994.
Book Content: C
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence: Fighting and Domestic Violence
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Brillliance Audio