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Low Pressure - Sandra Brown Bellamy and Dent

3.5 stars

Tight suspense plot and so-so romance. A lot of players but done very well.

Full review on Fiction Vixen Book Reviews

Sandra Brown is known for her strong romantic suspense novels. I have always been a fan. Low Pressure is the title of a book written by our main protagonist Bellamy Lyston Price and also happens to be the title of this book.

As with most other Sandra Brown books there are many players. We have our main couple of Dent and Bellamy, Bellamy’s family which includes her parents and step-brother, Dent’s surrogate father Gall, a jerk tabloid writer, a stalker, the ADA from trial, the crusty old cop who investigated the murder, the man found guilty, and the brother of the man found guilty. Each person plays a role in the story and they all have their own chapters and voices. This made for a particularly long book coming in at almost 500 pages.

Bellamy wrote Low Pressure as a way to exercise some demons from a long ago Memorial Day. It was a day where her family picnic was destroyed by a F5 tornado and a day where her sister was found murdered among the tornado rubble. Bellamy was only 12 years old when it happened so her recollection of the day is not a great one. In fact, as she is rehashing the story she realizes that she has blank spots in her memory. By telling the story she has brought a lot of things to the public eye and embarrassed a lot of people.

It was never her intention for anyone to know who wrote the story or that is was a true story. She wrote the book under a name she picked out of the phone book and refused any mentions of publicity. That all changed one day when a nosy tabloid reporting dug up her name and splashed it around exposing old wounds in her family and everyone involved in the murder.

Dent was Susan’s boyfriend at the time of the murder. He was also suspect number one considering they had a fight on the morning of the murder. Dent was training to be a pilot and took a flight over attending the BBQ with Susan thus causing the fight.

The best way to review a complex book like this might be to explain what part each player has in the story. The plot kind of develops from what each person does or says.

Bellamy- The sister of the deceased and the author of the book. She wrote the book to exercise demons but in doing so she raised so many more. She has made someone very angry at her, angry enough to leave threatening notes and break into her home and car. In the retelling of the story she figures out that her memory isn’t really the best and she is blocking something. She hooks up with Dent in order to figure out what the truth actually is.

Dent- The deceased’s boyfriend. Supposedly had an alibi on the night of the murder but when retelling the story Bellamy figures out that she saw him at the BBQ. So the alibi he had, had been a false one. He has lost everything since the murder. He used to be a pilot for a major airline but now he doesn’t even have that. He spent his savings to buy his own plane but that was destroyed by the same person who is stalking Bellamy. He is a bit of jerk and, IMO, pressures Bellamy for sex. I am not sure what his redeeming qualities would be. Here is a quote from Dent on how he was for most of the book. Very callous and cranky.

“Don’t sweat it, Bellamy, I asked, you-”

“Funny. I don’t recall you asking.”

“Maybe not in so many words, but, just FYI, in a crotch-grinding embrace, when a man’s got his tongue in your mouth and his hand on your ass, it’s a pretty safe bet on what he has in mind. I asked, you said no. He shrugged with supreme indifference and returned his attention to the traffic. He lifted his foot off the brake. The car rolled forward only a few yards before he had to brake again.

“You should have known better than to try,” she said. “You’re the one who remarked on my TFR. Except that it’s not temporary. I don’t relate well to men in that way. I never have.”

“Well that creates a communication problem for us.”

“Why should it?”

“Because ‘that way’ is the only way I relate to women.”

Olivia and Howard- Bellamy’s dad and step-mom. This was the second marriage for both of them but they have always been absolutely devoted to each other. Her dad is dying from cancer and her step-mom is lost without him. Neither of them liked Dent and thought he was trouble for Susan.

Steven- Bellamy and Susan’s step-brother. He revealed he is gay and was tortured by Susan. She would crawl into bed with him and come on to him in very sexual ways. He had every reason to want her dead. He says he went to the boathouse to look for beer that day at the BBQ but Bellamy is quite aware that he does not like beer. The boathouse is where Susan was right before she was found strangled. Steven has also distanced himself from his family in order to forget the past completely.

Rupe Collier- Former ADA, now a used car salesman who says it pays better than law. The case for Allen Strickland was a circumstantial one but somehow ADA made it stick. After the trial the files magically disappeared so as to not call into question the shakiness of what went on. He is now running scared from the mess that Bellamy has brought back up.

Detective Moody- A crusty old cop that has never been able to get the case out of his mind. It has haunted him ever since he left the force. He now lives alone and relies on alcohol to get him through the day. He was never convinced Allen Strickland was the one who did the deed. Susan was assumed to have been strangled with her own underwear, a pair of underwear that was never found. He always thought that if he could have found the underwear he would have the real culprit.

Van Duren- Annoying man who won’t leave Bellamy alone. He is obsessed with anything and everything that has to do with this case.

Jerry- Bellamy’s biggest fan or also known as her biggest stalker. He somehow shows up everywhere she is. What is his motive and does he have anything to do with the threats?

Allen Strickland- A blue collar worker that took the fall for Susan’s murder. Two years into his sentence he is killed in prison.

Ray Strickland- Brother of Allan Strickland and set up to be the bad guy. He is the one that is obviously behind the break ins and vandalism directed towards Bellamy and Dent. He has always believed his brother was innocent and is now pissed about the book rehashing everything. He is violent and unpredictable.

The suspense plot is pretty tight but drawn out. There are a lot of details to go through. You are left wondering until the very end if the right man was arrested and convicted. There are so many people presented that could have committed the murder that I jumped from character to character thinking they had to be the bad guy. It is very well written and leaves you guessing.

Interwoven with that suspense is the developement of Bellamy and Dent’s relationship. It is done in a believable way yet I don’t know if I bought it. It wasn’t instant love, maybe instant lust on Bellamy’s part, but took time to bloom. However, they didn’t seem to fit as a couple. They were on different paths and from different paths. I wish I could have liked Dent more but he was an arse and not one that ever redeemed himself. I don’t think I got enough of his background to ever feel any sympathy for where he ended up. I never connected with him in the way I normally connect with my heroes.

Overall, this is a classic Sandra Brown book. It is well written with a great depth of story telling. If you are looking for something that will hook and make you want to keep reading to see how it ends then this will be the book for you. Final grade- B-

Favorite Quote:

When he turned and saw her, an odd expression came over his face.

“What?” she asked.

He shook his head slightly, then gave a wolfish grin. “I was just thinking how good it looks on you.”

“Your shirt?”