Sandra Brown’s bestselling romantic thrillers have been topping fiction lists for more than three decades, with a list of 65 titles beginning in the early 1980s. Her formula of bad boys and women in dire straits has proved to be enormously popular. In Sting, Brown’s devious, remote hero is hitman Shaw Kinnard, who has been hired by a ruthless criminal and real bad guy named Panella, on contract to kill beautiful business entrepreneur Jordie Bennett. Panella’s hoping the hit will bring Jordie’s brother, Josh, a fugitive and escaped federal witness, to the surface of whatever scummy pond he’s been hiding in, along with $30 million that Panella figures is his. Josh and Panella were complicit in a scheme to defraud investors of their hard-earned money, and Josh has disappeared along with the loot.
Before reaching the meat of the story, filled with action, disclosures, chases and mayhem, readers get their fill of backstory and ancillary characters, including the numerous cops and FBI agents on Panella’s trail, who also want their prize. Eventually Shaw, who appears to be a cold-hearted kidnapper and killer of helpless women entrepreneurs, decides that the lovely Jordie may be worth more in dollars if she’s alive. He kidnaps her and makes his getaway into the backwoods, and these two strong-willed, stubborn characters must try to outwit the other while evading the law enforcement dragnet.
Thriller readers in general and Brown fans in particular know that this story is just the surface skin, beneath which lie surprises and plot twists that go way beyond the smoldering passion developing between captor and captive—one that we knew would develop from the get-go. The author isn’t showing all her cards, and Shaw and Jordie have plenty of secrets in tow for readers to discover as the book progresses. This part of the story is greatly enhanced by unsavory tidbits about brother Josh, who is a loose cannon if there ever was one.
Sting may be formulaic and lacking in dimension, but readers looking for Brown’s tried-and-true recipe will find plenty to escape into in this smoothly written, late-summer thriller.