Glomming Sandra Brown’s romantic suspense audio backlist in 2010, I met Dodge Hanley, the hero of Tough Customer, in Smash Cut. It never dawned on me at the time that Dodge was a potential hero meant to carry his own book. He’s a middle aged, hard-talking, chain-smoking investigator for attorney Derek Mitchell (the hero of Smash Cut).
Thirty years ago, Dodge and the love of his life, Caroline, divorced. He doesn’t have much to do with Caroline these days but at her call for help, he drops everything and travels to Houston. Apparently a madman is stalking her daughter Berry. Ski, a fourth primary character, is the local lawman investigating the case. Together, the four make Tough Customer a three-part romance – Dodge and Caroline in their first years together, Dodge and Caroline present day, and Berri and Ski. It’s a formula that worked extremely well for me.
As with most Brown books, I experienced Tough Customer in audio only but I’m still certain that if I had read it in print first, I’d prefer the audio. Victor Slezak is that good. I allowed his narration and Brown’s characters to sweep me away making me not really care if there were a few suspense details that may have bothered me in print. I reveled in pure entertainment. Slezak is one of the most talented male narrators I have had the pleasure of hearing and when he talks, I listen. I guess you could say that I almost feel entranced.
Slezak completely avoids the higher pitched female voices yet his characters remain easily distinguishable. He effectively uses accents, rhythm, and even personalities to differentiation one character from another. And few heroes sound as good as a Slezak’s. He’s definitely a narrator I follow first with the author a second consideration.
Tough Customer works well as a stand-alone audio but for a full appreciation of Dodge’s character, I recommend you listen to Smash Cut first – one of my Sandra Brown favorites.
Book Content: A
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster