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White Hot    by Sandra Brown order for
White Hot
by Sandra Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

There is beauty in Sandra Brown's words, describing Hoyle Enterprises in Destiny, Louisiana - 'The ever-present smoke hovered above the horizon undisturbed because there was no wind. It was like an entity unto itself, a continuous reminder of the Hoyles' dominance and a perpetual threat to anyone who cared to question their right to dominate.'

Huff Hoyle is a controlling, tyrannical man who rules most of the town along with his son Chris. Notables in his pocket include sheriff Red Carter, family lawyer Beck Merchant, and Dr. Caroe. His control extends over foundry employees who are dependent on the only industry in town to support themselves and their families. The foundry is run with deplorable working conditions, cheap labor, ill-trained hires for the dangerous work. Workers are frequently injured, at times maimed for life. Some disappear and some are bought off. Constantly under the scrutiny of the Occupation, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and union organizers, Hoyle Enterprises faces its adversaries with cover-ups, payoffs ... and possibly murder.

Sayre Lynch escaped Destiny and assumed her mother's surname to free herself of the Hoyle name. She established herself as an interior designer in San Francisco. It has been ten years since she left. Now Sayre returns to Destiny to attend the funeral of her brother Danny, a supposed suicide. She decides to stay on after becoming suspicious about Danny's death. Sayre also visits her high school ex-sweetheart (Hoyle foundry employee Clark Daly) encouraging him to take a stand in the strike as a leader. An elusive investigator and labor advocate named Charles Nielsen lurks in the background. Sayre doesn't realize the trauma ahead.

Sandra Brown sets an even pace in developing primary and secondary characters, allowing the reader to get to know the cast (though Sayre gets swallowed up here and there, demoted to second billing). Each scene in White Hot (the title comes from the 'liquid fire' of molten metal) is cleverly crafted. Though the action falters at times, it seems to be Brown's way of taking a breath before building-up steam to continue the suspense. I have read very little by Sandra Brown and am really impressed.

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