Review

Smash Cut

by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is one of the few authors who is able to guarantee
an enviable level of book sales with the presence of her name on
the cover. And with SMASH CUT, her latest novel, Brown gives her
readers their money’s worth by delivering what may be her
best work to date, blending characters, plot and memorable
vignettes into a rapidly readable mix.

SMASH CUT begins with a murder. A daring robbery carried out on
an elevator at the Moultrie Hotel in Atlanta by a ski-masked bandit
ends with the murder of Paul Wheeler, the CEO of Wheeler
Enterprises. A widower who is a well-regarded pillar of Atlanta
society, Paul was also a highly successful businessman. And it had
been his practice to meet weekly at the Moultrie with Julie
Rutledge, who, despite the disparity in age between herself and
Paul, had been his companion for almost two years. Julie, the owner
of Atlanta’s most successful art gallery, had just concluded
her weekly meeting with Paul when he was murdered. The police
initially have no significant leads as to the identity of the
killer, although Creighton Wheeler, a thoroughly unsympathetic
character, has the most to gain from his death, given that he is
Paul’s nephew and testamentary heir.

Despite the best efforts of Creighton’s father, Doug, the
28-year-old waste of skin has absolutely no interest in the family
business other than the extent to which it can be a cash cow to
feed the maw of his own interests: call girls, fast cars, designer
clothes, and --- most of all --- films, which he watches
obsessively. When the police investigating Paul’s murder
begin paying close attention to Creighton’s affairs, Doug
looks to Derek Mitchell, Atlanta’s pre-eminent defense
attorney, for representation.

Derek is unaware of what has taken place when he is initially
contacted by Doug as he had just returned from a vacation in Paris.
And although Derek is intrigued by the case, he ultimately turns it
down, telling Doug that Creighton, who has an airtight alibi, is
not a viable suspect in the case. But the reader soon learns that
the truth goes deeper than that. Although Derek has an extreme
distaste for Creighton, the real reason he denies the case is
because he is attracted to Julie, which would produce a conflict of
interest. When Creighton, who has always harbored a deep dislike of
Julie, becomes aware of the attraction, it puts Julie and Derek ---
as well as the real killer --- in his crosshairs as Julie slowly
and inexorably becomes the primary focus of the police
investigation.

This state of affairs occurs as the result of Creighton’s
machinations. As unlikable as he may be, Creighton is a diabolical
genius as well as an uncontrollable narcissist who will do anything
to get what he wants. Using scenes from the classic films with
which he is obsessed, Creighton blazes a trail of mayhem across
Atlanta, with his ultimate target being an innocent who unwittingly
holds the key to Paul’s murder. As Julie and Derek race to
bring down Creighton, even as they themselves are pursued by the
police, they get closer and closer to a climax where they must try
to stop a seemingly untouchable foe.

Sandra Brown’s pacing and characterization make SMASH CUT
a one-sit read. She saves her biggest surprises for the final pages
of the story but sprinkles nuggets throughout with generous doses
of sex and violence along the way. Put this one on your must-read
list.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Smash Cut
by Sandra Brown

  • Publication Date: August 11, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Romantic Suspense
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1416563083
  • ISBN-13: 9781416563082