Identical twins changing places has been the basis of many books.
In most, they are children playing tricks on the adults in their
lives who can't tell them apart. Teachers are often the brunt of
such jokes, as are baby-sitters. In a few books, such as DECEPTIONS
by Judith Michael, adult identical twins exchange identities, which
usually causes havoc with their personal lives. In THE SWITCH,
Sandra Brown's new suspense title, a thriller with romantic
undertones, Gillian and Melina Lloyd are identical adult twins.
They share a bond much closer than the average pair of sisters.
Other than their parents, who are no longer alive, no one can tell
them apart. They do have different careers and interests, but when
the two are together, heads always turn in amazement as people note
The twins differ in one way. Gillian feels her biological clock
ticking and, even though she is not married, she wants to have a
child. She has a steady boyfriend, Jem, who has had a vasectomy.
With his encouragement, she considers artificial insemination with
anonymously donated sperm. After some vacillation, she undergoes
the procedure and meets her sister for lunch afterwards. Melina has
had some reservations about Gillian getting pregnant but she wants
her sister to be happy, so she wishes her luck and offers moral
Melina is self-employed as a media escort, accompanying celebrities
to various functions. That evening she is scheduled to escort
Colonel Christopher "Chief" Hart, a soon to be retired NASA
astronaut and national hero, to an awards banquet. Trying to take
Gillian's mind off the artificial insemination and the time she has
to wait before knowing the outcome, Melina suggests they switch
places. Gillian refuses, saying it is a trick for children, not
adults, so Melina escorts Chief after all. The two are mutually
attracted to each other, and Melina, who is more impulsive than her
twin, spends most of the night with him. She returns home in the
early hours of the morning and quickly falls asleep.
The police ringing her doorbell abruptly awakens Melina in the
morning. Sometime after she returned home, her twin was brutally
murdered in her own bed; and racial slurs implicating Chief, a
Native American, are written in blood on her walls. At this point,
Brown employs one of several plot twists involving the twins. When
the police bring in Chief for questioning, he tells them about a
man who approached them at a fast food restaurant calling his
escort Gillian instead of Melina. Although Melina didn't recognize
the man, she also didn't correct him. Melina later explains to
Chief that the man merely mistook her for her sister, and it was
easier not to have to explain to strangers that they were identical
Chief is able to give the police information, which leads to
identifying the man who becomes the primary suspect. When the
police go to his home to pick him up for questioning, however, they
find him dead, a victim of an apparent suicide. Plenty of evidence
in his small, spare apartment links him to Gillian's murder, so the
police consider the case closed.
Melina still has her doubts, feeling that the case was closed too
easily. As she continues to investigate her twin's death, there are
threats on her life as well as on Chief's. After being approached
by FBI agents, they try to connect Gillian's death to a larger
conspiracy masterminded by a charismatic television preacher who
has a cult-like following. Along the way, Melina and Chief also
must determine if their attraction is real, or just Chief trying to
fill the void left by Gillian's death.
Sandra Brown has successfully employed many plot "switches" to
bring together this story of mistaken identities, cult followers,
and psychotic megalomania. She binds it all together with two very
strong protagonists who have an often denied and confusing but
shared attraction to each other.
Reviewed by Debbie Ann Weiner on January 23, 2011