When I think of a "crush" I envision a pimply-faced, shy, teenage
boy who admires the blond prom queen-cheerleader, from afar. Maybe
he'll venture an awkward hello or wave in the high school hallway.
Maybe he'll go so far as to send her an anonymous note professing
his interest, his desire. Maybe he might even brave sitting next to
her on a class trip. But rarely would it go any farther than that.
It's all innocent, non-threatening, and, for the one on the
receiving end, it's flattering.
When Sandra Brown uses the word "crush" you can expect innocence to
be replaced by menace and flattery to become cause for fear.
Sure THE CRUSH begins with a seemingly benign unsigned note --- "I
have a crush on you." But when the note accompanies dozens of red
roses that have magically appeared in the recipient's house with no
signs of how they got there, one should be concerned.
Dr. Rennie Newton is. A regimented, highly talented surgeon, she
lives an isolated life, with few friends and few contacts beyond
those she works with. There's no one in her life who could have
possibly sent her the roses. Forewoman for the jury of a newsworthy
murder-for-hire case, Rennie's trademark composure and
self-assurance in the courtroom compels her jury mates to deliver a
not guilty verdict, and, at the same time, unbeknownst to her, has
caught the eye of an unwanted admirer.contract killer (excuse me,
alleged contract killer) Ricky Lozada. Lozada is repulsive ---
kudos to Brown for creating a slimy, dislikable villain packaged
like eye candy. And for throwing in his coveted pets, adding just a
bit more of a chill to the story.
Five days after the close of the trial, Rennie's colleague is
brutally murdered in the hospital parking lot where they worked
together. The murder is hallmark Lozada. Could he have done it? And
why would he?
Enter Wick Threadgill, temporarily retired detective, and Oren
Wesley, his former partner, each with a bone to pick with Lozada.
Suspecting Rennie is somehow culpable in the murder, the police
stake out her house and keep track of her comings and goings.
The investigation uncovers the secret past of the good Dr. Newton,
surprising everyone, including her persistent suitor and Wick, who
is developing a crush of his own. Insinuating himself into every
aspect of her life, Lozada, now obsessed, becomes all the more
unpredictable and dangerous. Rennie and Wick, wary of each other,
are forced to work together to bring him in, or bring him
Thrillers are often driven by the reader's desire "to know" who is
responsible for the thread of action throughout the plot. THE CRUSH
is character driven. In THE CRUSH, we know from the beginning who
the murderer is, and yet we read on because Brown has developed
compelling characters. We want to see her ice maiden Dr. Newton
thaw. We want to see Detective Threadgill comfortable in his own
skin again. And, most of all, we want to see Lozada, snake that he
is, get what's coming to him ---finally!
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 21, 2011