Play Dirty Author:Sandra Brown Sandra Brown has created another superhero for those who love their mysteries flavored with romance. Griff Burkett, former Dallas Cowboy football icon, has just been released from prison after serving five years for racketeering. In a state where football is king, he was convicted of shaving points and conspiring with mobsters to cheat his fans ... more »of imminent victory. There is no way that he ever could serve enough time to redeem himself in the eyes of most Texans. Yet, upon his release, one of the state's wealthiest couples invites him to their estate and offers him a job.
As owners of the innovative and successful SunSouth Airlines, Foster and Laura Speakman are used to getting what they want, and they have the means to pay for it. The simple task that they require of Griff promises to pay him one-million dollars a year, and it's all perfectly legal. With everyone else turning their backs on him, the disgraced hero accepts their bizarre offer and steps into a dangerous world where nothing is as it seems and everyone plays dirty.
From the Speakmans to his old coach and foster father, from Stanley Rodarte, a thug out to torment Griff in every possible way, to the Vista boys who facilitated his downfall, all have secrets and hidden agendas that serve to push Griff to the wall. He does not want to return to prison and is doing his best to follow the rules of his parole. Though debased in numerous ways by unforgiving former fans and disregarded by those who once sought his favor, Griff is determined to become a better person. He had time to do some soul searching while behind bars and recognizes that, despite his difficult childhood, he had been given the talent and opportunity to do more with his life. Regardless of how everyone else played, he is resolved to make the right choices and play fair.
As the story unfolds, so do the complexities of Griff's deal with the Speakmans as he finds himself increasingly drawn to Laura Speakman. Though scorned by his public, Griff remains very much in the public eye, his every move scrutinized not only by the tabloids but also by Stanley Rodarte. He simply cannot afford to do anything stupid; his freedom depends on it. Those of us romantics who enjoy the genre have come to expect a happy ending, no matter how complicated and impossible the situations become. Our reward is that we get to watch a creative talent work out the details for us and make it so.
Ever since Sandra Brown moved from straight romance to mystery/romance, it has been difficult to find new ways to praise her books. Yet, like fine wine, she continues to improve in subtle ways. With PLAY DIRTY, I notice a definite change in how she uses dialogue not only to define her characters but also to add a delightful measure of humor so often missing in earlier works. I don't know what Brown will do for an encore after this sure-to-be bestseller, but I can be certain that it will not disappoint.
--- Reviewed by Maggie Harding, a substance abuse counselor in Phoenix, AZ who wanted to be Brenda Starr before life intervened.« less