cover image Unspeakable


Sandra Brown. Warner Books Inc, $30 (439pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51979-3

A 20-year-old unsolved murder in a small East Texas town sets the stage for this fast-paced and romantically charged, if stiffly written, thriller, the latest (after Fat Tuesday) from the prolific Brown. Everyone in Blewer, Tex., assumes that the nefarious Herbold brothers, Carl and Cecil, murdered Patsy McCorkle two decades ago, but neither was ever charged with the killing. Carl, the more menacing brother, has spent those decades in an Arkansas prison for an unrelated crime. But now Carl has escaped and Blewer residents fear he might come back to town. Local rancher Delray Corbett has more to fear than most--the Herbolds are his estranged stepsons. So when drifter Jack Sawyer swaggers onto Delray's ranch looking for work, Delray hires him, thinking that Jack's presence will ease his mind regarding the safety of his deaf, widowed daughter-in-law, Anna, and her five-year-old son, David. But Delray doesn't know that Jake has a closer connection to Blewer, and to the Corbetts, than he's letting on. Brown's deftly plotted narrative twists and turns without losing hold of its suspense. Her characters are fully fleshed out, and she pays particular attention to Anna's situation as a deaf woman facing ignorance in a rural community. Some graphic sex and violence and the voices of these east Texan good (and bad) ol' boys animate this harrowing tale of crime, revenge and redemption. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections. (June)