Book/Author and Year Published: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown (2017)

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Romantic Suspense/Thriller

Preferred Reading Environment: A dive bar! Or curled up in your favorite reading corner.

Reading Accoutrements: Scotch on the rocks for those intense moments, your tastiest wine for the rest.

Content Notes: Domestic Terrorism, Bombing, Abandonment/Neglect, Death, Gun Violence

I mentioned in my review of Good Christian Bitches that I bought the book from a 2 for $8 sale rack. Seeing Red was the second book I bought that day and I cannot wait to tell you about it!

Twenty-five years ago, Major John Trapper was at a meeting in the Pegasus Hotel in Dallas, Texas when several bombs were detonated. While the building fell around his ears, The Major (as he later became known) led a small group of survivors from the building, stopping only to pick up a little girl standing next to her dying mother in the lobby. By chance or by fate, a photographer for a nationally syndicated newspaper happened to be having dinner across the street when the bombs detonated, ran onto the street in time to snap a picture of The Major carrying a little girl and leading the ragtag bunch of survivors to safety. The Major became an instant celebrity, doing TV appearances, giving speeches, and staying in the public eye for the next 22 years. The little girl disappeared into anonymity.

Two decades later, ATF Agent John Trapper – son of the legendary major – was looking through the files on the bombing when he realised that something didn’t add up. It was too easy: the man who blew up the Pegasus walked into a police station and confessed, then died of stomach cancer within six weeks of the bombing; the motive wasn’t religious or political, just a dying man with a grudge. The further he dug, the more impossible for Trapper to deny that a larger conspiracy was at work in the Pegasus bombing that killed 197 people. But when he took his findings to his superiors, he was told to drop his investigation. Of course, he didn’t and  was fired. His ongoing obsession with the bombing investigation added more and more stress to his relationship with his fiancée, culminating in a miscarriage that devastated them both and ended their relationship altogether. Trapper got drunk, hung out his shingle as a Private Investigator, and played the role of the embittered PI to perfection.

With the 25 year anniversary of the bombing approaching, Kerra Bailey, a TV journalist for a Dallas affiliate station, knocked on his door. Trapper was in fine form that day, hungover from a weekend of debauchery following the wedding of the seedy lawyer who shared his office building. Kerra asked for his help getting The Major to agree to a 25th anniversary interview, which Trapper vehemently refused. Repeatedly. The Major had retired out of the public eye and  refused to do any interviews for the past three years. Kerra was persistent; she had a secret that was sure to make the story a huge success – and potentially launch her career. Kerra Bailey was the 5-year-old girl The Major carried out of the Pegasus Hotel in that iconic picture.

When Kerra and The Major are targeted after the interview, Trapper is bound and determined to keep Kerra safe while he tracks down the gunmen, because the people who are after Kerra know who was responsible for the Pegasus bombing. While the two are wary of each other, Trapper and Kerra team up to investigate the strange threads that keep leading back to the Pegasus bombing and the truth that could get Trapper his life back…and have some pretty steamy moments along the way.

Trapper is a cynic, made so by a hero father who neglected him in favor of media appearances. He’s also the worst kind of asshole: the wounded kind. Because of the issues from his past – abandoned by his father and coworkers, broken by the loss of his child and, subsequently, his fiancée – Trapper has a massive chip on his shoulder. His cynicism, need to do everything himself because he won’t trust anyone else to do it, and his compulsion to protect those he cares about from his destructive tendencies make him a complete jerk. They also make him fixable and endearing, which is just so annoying…and also serves as a possible excuse for his harmful behavior.

Kerra has issues of her own stemming from the trauma of surviving the bombing and effectively losing both of her parents (her mother was killed and her father became a quadriplegic who emotionally shut down after all the trauma, so she was raised by her aunt and uncle). She holds people at arm’s length, although unintentionally (unlike Trapper, who is completely aware that he does it and is an asshole), and her past relationships are proof of that. She is equally as single-minded as Trapper, so it surprised me that her issues just kind of dissolved in the face of a wounded (asshole) hero and good sex. Okay…mind-blowing sex. But still! Physical intimacy does not solve deep-seated emotional problems. It might help, sure…but the problems don’t just go away because of a couple orgasms. Or…you know…a lot of orgasms…

ANYWAY…

If you couldn’t tell from the synopsis, this book is looooooong. Over 400 pages long. It took me a significant amount of time to read through this one (which is great because I spent wayyyy less money on books this month than usual). There is a ton of backstory in this book – again, you probably got that from the synopsis – but my rundown might be a bit misleading: Brown didn’t present all of the backstory in a linear fashion. In fact, the book starts with the interview between Kerra and The Major. Seeing Red was crafted to keep you guessing about the various pieces of the puzzle until the very last minute.

Which reminds me, I was also pleasantly surprised by the ending of this book. Don’t worry! I won’t spoil anything. I just want to say that I appreciate that the villains of this novel weren’t the typical terrorists bent on anarchy or world domination or whatever that you typically find in a suspense/thriller conspiracy. They were still bad guys – just not what I expected when I picked up this book. It was refreshing.

Have you ever bought a book on sale that exceeded your expectations? Tell me about it in the comments!

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