Dawson Scott is a battered combat journalist who returns from the Middle East to find himself on the losing end of a power struggle with his new editor. He reluctantly agrees to travel to Idaho to write about hot-air balloons, but a tip from his godfather sends him to an island off the coast of Georgia. There, he finds his next story – and unexpected answers to questions he’d long buried.
Plot Overview: Determination, Conspiracy and Birth
Willard Strong is standing trial for the murder of his wife, Darlene Strong, and her lover, Jeremy Wesson; Wesson’s body, however, was never found. Dawson, at his grandfather, former FBI agent Gary Headly’s, urging, travels south from Alexandria, Va., to attend the trial. At first, he’s reluctant to follow the story of Wesson, a soldier who suffered from PTSD before his disappearance. But when Wesson’s widow, Amelia, takes the stand, Dawson perks up.
Dawson follows the beauty to a small island off the coast of Georgia. As the two bond, Dawson tries to glean facts about Wesson and his family (Headly believes Wesson is the son of Carl Wingert, an infamous domestic terrorist who has remained on the run for decades).
Meanwhile, Amelia notices oddities around the beach house. A deflated beach ball turns up patched and blown up, light bulbs are changed. When Amelia’s nanny is murdered during a violent storm, her (and Dawson’s) suspicions of Wesson’s survival seem realized. The question is, where is Jeremy? More importantly, where is Carl? And finally, what is Dawson’s connection to the outlaw and his son?
Criticisms and Compliments
Sandra Brown, like Nora Roberts, is one of the reigning queens of the romantic suspense genre; the difference between the two, however, is that while Roberts has an established style, Brown gets grittier and, frankly, better with each novel. There is a clear improvement between the former journalist’s earlier forays into romance and the thrillers released over the last several years. With that said, Deadline has some weaknesses. First, though Brown includes a number of twists, the plot is easy to predict (never a good sign for what should be a thrilling whodunit). Second, usually the female half of a potential relationship takes precedence in a novel, but Brown alternates between Amelia and Dawson, the latter of whom is the more developed character. Amelia reads slightly shallower than her new love. Finally, the romance is secondary to the plot – which is not necessarily a bad thing, but Brown readers are more likely to pick up her books for the added lust factor.
Overall, Deadline is still a good read, particularly with Brown’s clear, engaging writing. For readers who like a little more suspense and a little less romance, Deadline is worth checking out.
- Brown, Sandra. Deadline. Vision, 2014 ISBN 9781455501502