I first listened to Smash Cut immediately after discovering Sandra Brown’s Envy – my first of her romantic suspense audios. As I listened to one Sandra Brown/Victor Slezak combination after another searching for another Envy, I discovered there simply isn’t another one. It stands alone as Brown’s best and my favorite romantic suspense of all time. But that doesn’t mean Smash Cut isn’t an excellent listen as well. When I listened the first time around, I graded it a B+. After all, it wasn’t Envy. When I recently relistened, I realized Smash Cut is A grade material all the way around. I was riveted to Brown’s intricate suspense plot and enjoyed every minute of Victor Slezak’s outstanding performance.
Once again, Brown takes us to the South – this time Atlanta. After Paul Wheeler’s murder in an elevator with his companion, Julie Rutledge, at his side, the murderer makes a clean getaway. No one can find even a trace of evidence anywhere. However, Julie believes it can only be one person, Paul’s nephew Creighton. Paul Wheeler is quite wealthy and Creighton his only heir. Besides, Creighton is just plain creepy despite his rich boy, tennis playing persona.
Paul’s brother (and Creighton’s father) contacts high-profile attorney Derek Mitchell to represent the family after Paul’s death. No one in his family has been accused of Paul’s murder – yet, but I can only assume he understands just how much of a disturbing character Creighton is. Derek refuses – he doesn’t want to represent the manipulative Creighton who thinks himself superior to anyone and everyone. And then there’s the fact that he’s had a recent sexual encounter with Julie and the possible “conflict of interest” should he take on the case.
I’m sure I would have been turning the pages quickly if I had read Smash Cut in print. And I felt the same with the audio – I listened at every opportunity even if I had only a few minutes. At the same time, I wanted to absorb every moment. The pace works to great advantage in that aspect as there are many trails to follow as new possibilities are introduced. Although you may think you know the villain’s identity, true to Sandra Brown’s style, you really don’t know for much of the book.
Victor Slezak is responsible for taking this fine suspense and moving it into the spellbounding category. Once again his telling of the story mesmerized me. He understands each character and injects their personality into every one of their spoken lines. I understood Derek’s confident, no-nonsense, cocky yet professional makeup merely by the hearing. Julie sounded ever the lady she is (a common Brown trait) even when she’s in questionable circumstances. And Creighton, well, he’s a fascinating character and Slezak injects just the right amount of eeriness, conceit, rich boy, and attitude into his portrayal.
Derek’s investigator, Dodge Hanley, is featured in a later Brown book, Tough Customer. Slezak narrates it as well and I encourage you to give it a try. You can find a review of Tough Customer here at AudioGals.
Victor Slezak and Sandra Brown clearly make one of the best audio teams around. I missed Slezak in Brown’s latest book, Low Pressure, and I’m hoping he returns with her next release.
Book Content: A-
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster