A bestseller about an old homicide that once dominated the headlines brings a family back together in Brown’s thriller set in Texas, Atlanta and New York.
Bellamy Lyston Price returns to Austin to see her dying father and comfort her stepmother, Olivia, in the wake of a media circus brought on by Bellamy’s novel, Low Pressure. The book fictionalizes the murder of Bellamy’s rich, spoiled and beautiful older sister, Susan, who was strangled with a pair of her own panties on a company picnic nearly two decades before. Bellamy wrote the book to exorcise demons that had been tormenting her since she attended the picnic as a child, hoping that it would stir forgotten details of the day her sister was killed. Instead, the book, which shoots to the top of the bestseller list and attracts the attention of a muckraking reporter, brings the real-life cast involved in the homicide and its investigation back together, and Bellamy, along with Dent Carter, her sister’s former boyfriend, are thrown together to find the answers. Along the way, they meet some pretty nasty characters, including the deranged brother of the man who was convicted of killing Susan, a cop whose investigation had more holes than a sieve and a soulless former prosecutor. The novel is fast moving and entertaining, although the occasional foray into soft porn may distract some readers, but there are a few flaws. Brown’s biggest sin is that she makes her bad guys evil all the way through, without any redemption, and that includes much of the Austin Police Department, which she paints as corrupt and inept at best. The unrelenting nastiness takes her characters a little too far over the top to be believable, but she ultimately redeems herself and the book because, unlike many writers of popular thrillers, Brown skillfully combines strong characterization with plots that keep the reader guessing all the way.
A good old-fashioned thriller and a winner, even though the bad guys are sometimes just a little too bad for plausibility.