Monday, November 7, 2011

Brightwing by Sullivan Lee

Summary (courtesy ofGoodReads):  Edgar and Mallory Battle are on the run after a spectacularly violent escape. Now, with a trail of bodies behind them, they need a hostage against the inevitable standoff with the police. Their first doesn't last long, thanks to sociopathic Mallory. Edgar has been hiding his brother's crimes since they were kids. Now he's torn between family loyalty and self-preservation.

They carjack Lucy Brightwing, a criminal fresh from her own heist, with a fortune of uncut gems hidden in her vehicle. She could escape - but she won't abandon her millions. She could kill the Battle brothers, but she has to be careful. For one thing, if the law investigates, they'll find her ill-gotten loot. For another, her own life is sacred. She's the last member of a Florida paleoindian tribe thought to be extinct - the Tequesta. With her share of the money she plans to buy, bribe and blackmail her way into her own ancestral tribal lands in the heart of the Everglades: a Tequesta nation.

Lucy leads the brothers into her beloved swamp, determined to kill them. But when she falls for Edgar she must decide whether to risk her heritage and the future of her tribe to save the doomed brothers.

And here's what I thought:   Actually, I was intrigued even before I started the book, because here is what the Acknowledgments page says: "For my sister M.   Who begged me to kill Mallory."  Okay -- color me curious.      While I thought this book was a bit of a slow starter, I got the impression that the author did that on purpose ---- you start out a little slow, and you think: Oh, okay, I know what's going to happen.....         And then, the pace starts to pick up.    We have two stories that are interconnected:  Lucy, who is on a mission, and the two Bartle Brothers, who are also on a mission (to escape being caught by the police).   The two brothers reminded me a little bit of the two men in Of Mice and Men, in how Edgar was always trying to keep an eye (and a handle on) on Mallory.  Or, you could think of these guys as the two brothers in From Dusk 'Til Dawn.   Either way, it makes for an interesting pairing.   When the two brothers first encounter Lucy, Edgar thinks she's going to be an easy target, but it soon becomes very clear that Lucy's no wimp.  I liked that.   I liked how Lucy was smart, and pretty matter-of-fact about things --- she completely throws Edgar for a loop, and I liked how that added to the story, and created some tension.   I also liked how Lucy's background was worked into the story -- she's a fully developed character, not just some cardboard female. 

You do have to get used to the back-and-forth narrative in this book, but once you do, I think it's a good story.   I got the impression that the author really enjoyed writing this story, and her characters (yes, even Mallory -- he's a real nasty piece of work, but I see how writing a character like him could be kinda fun).    I also got the feeling that the author was very familiar with her setting --- everything in this story felt very real.   That's always nice, because you don't find yourself being snagged on some detail that doesn't add up (that always bugs me, when the rhythm of my reading is interrupted).    There is some romance here, which I guess I didn't feel was completely necessary, but which added some interesting tension to the story.     The way Lucy is written, I wasn't surprised that Edgar was drawn to her.   And what happens to Mallory in the end?  Not telling!!!!    

This was a quick-paced story with interesting characters.   If you're looking for a book that's a combination of thriller and drama, with a bit of romance mixed in, you might want to give this one a try.
First sentences:   It was a shame about the hooker.      Lucy Brightwing left the high class call girl tied with her own thigh highs and convincingly roughed-up in the lobby of a diner that opened for breakfast. The early fry cook would find her, and probably not rape her, since she knew from a background check he had a clean criminal record.     Lucy always did her research.  

Thoughts on the cover:   A bit too much mist for me.  I don't mind the woman, or the gun, and I like the Everglades-y touch .... but the mist makes it look like there are elements of a fantasy novel here (like there's some kind of magic surrounding her).    I'd like a bit harder looking image, to drive home that this is a fast-paced thriller.  

If you'd like to learn more about the author, you may find her on her blog, or on GoodReads. 


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