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The Crush    by Sandra Brown order for
by Sandra Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Take an assassin for hire on trial for murder. Throw in a highly attractive jury member who argues against a conviction, and is watched continually by the prisoner. What do you have? Could be a story that's been in the newspapers in the last year or so but instead, the author has made her case for The Crush.

Dr. Rennie Newton is the obsessively tidy surgeon who was forewoman of the jury. Ricky Lozada is the handsome contract killer. When one of the doctor's colleagues (recently awarded an administrative position that she coveted) is suddenly murdered, the police are certain that Lozada did it, suspect Dr. Newton of hiring him, and place her under surveillance.

She, on the other hand, returns home after a gruelling day at the hospital, to find that someone has been in her house and left an expensive crystal vase and five dozen red roses on her living-room coffee table with a note that says simply 'I've got a crush on you.' Though someone who has often faced danger without flinching, she is terrified by the intruder's ability to get into her life, and by police suspicion combined with a ghost from her own past that has haunted her for twenty years.

Enter Wick Threadgill, dragged out of an 'indefinite leave of absence' by his Fort Worth Police Department ex-partner Oren Wesley. Wick has his own past to contend with, in which he bungled the investigation of Lozada for the murder of his older brother, also a cop. Oren asks Wick to investigate Rennie and, of course, Wick is instantly attracted despite his knowledge of her connection to Lozada and surprising revelations about her wild teen years.

In the meantime, Ricky Lozada's crush on Dr. Rennie Newton is developing into an obsessive desire to control her life. This leads to further violence and to flight, with the legendary killer close behind. The Crush is an absorbing romantic thriller about two people who have lived on the edge, and a psychopath obsessed with the need to push them over it.

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