Review of “Outfox” by Sandra Brown

Another random read, picked up at the discount table at a chain bookstore.

First, my comments on readability. The grammar and punctuation were good, but as with every novel I’ve read, the overall structure deteriorated at the halfway point. Sentences became wordier and context was sometimes lost, so that I had to reread previous paragraphs to catch up. Maybe I’m just a poor reader.

The antagonist is identified early, so this is indeed a story about being outfoxed, a cat-and-mouse game with someone’s life at risk, whose life was the first surprise. The protagonist thinks he is smarter but he’s shown up repeatedly by his adversary. This was well done, especially because the villain is introduced through one thread. This is a bold method that could have been exploited more, but it nevertheless works. Unfortunately, if the hero is always losing, there has to be a big scene where they get lucky. That is how this ends, predictably but surprisingly unexpected.

I had the impression from the outset that the story was going to end in an explicit romantic scene. That was okay, but the intimacy was overdone in my opinion, pushed beyond the inevitable romantic conclusion that was apparently the real plot. I don’t know anything about the author, but this reads like it was written for a specific audience that likes romance mixed with mystery, although there wasn’t much mystery in the perpetrator of heinous crimes. The red herrings weren’t very convincing.

I was totally surprised by the ending, which says a lot about the skill the author used to disguise what was in plain site, if I had been looking for it. However, this cool surprise was irrelevant to the story, and at times made some of the scenes implausible (in retrospect). At the time, I was totally fooled.

This novel smoothly integrates several themes into a sometimes-compelling story that isn’t really a mystery or a romantic drama. Overall, it was okay for casual reading, but don’t expect to stay up late reading…

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