The Switch
by Sandra Brown
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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It was a mistake she'd regret for the rest of her life. Over lunch, Melina Lloyd persuaded her identical twin sister, Gillian, to switch places with her. Melina was to escort Christopher "Chief" Hart, the famous astronaut, to an awards ceremony in Dallas. Gillian went in her place and paid for it with her life. Now, it's the morning after the ceremony, and there's a knock at Melina's door. The authorities have come to tell her that her twin sister has been murdered.

The crime is a gruesome one. Gillian has been stabbed numerous times and horrible words are written on the wall in Gillian's blood. Since Melina spoke to Gillian before her murder, she is able to give some clues about the murderer. The Dallas police check the house of Dale Gordon and declare him to be the murderer. The only problem is that he can't answer any questions because he has killed himself. Case closed. Or is it?

One would think so, because it appears Dale was a verifiable nutcase. By day, he worked in the Waters Clinic, which handles infertility issues for couples. In his leisure time, Dale was devoted to Brother Gabriel; a preacher of charismatic proportions only equaled by David Koresh. Brother Gabriel even has a compound-like Temple high atop a mountain in New Mexico. Phone records show that Dale called the Brother Gabriel hotline frequently, but was politely counseled to and dismissed.

It seems that Gillian Lloyd was a patient at the Waters Clinic. She had just had an artificial insemination procedure performed the very day she was killed. Was it a coincidence that Dale Gordon worked at that very clinic? What about the other players in Gillian's life? She escorted a famous NASA astronaut the night before her death. Did the Chief have anything to do with the murder?

There is also Jem Hennings, Gillian's boyfriend, to throw in the pool. Melina has never liked or trusted him. Was he really as devoted to Gillian as he appeared?

Melina is determined to get revenge and begins to ask questions. However, it seems that the people with whom she speaks end up dead. Melina wants to find the answers, but it just might be at the cost of her own life.

The Switch is an action-packed thriller that spans the glamorous nightlife of the Dallas scene, to the poverty stricken Indian reservations of New Mexico. Melina is on the run, trying to find Gillian's true killer(s) before she is killed herself.

The only arguable con regarding this book is Ms. Brown's liberal borrowing of today's headlines for the storyline. There's lots of talk regarding the pros and cons of artificial insemination. (The author did actually borrow from a specific news story, but discussing that here would reveal too much of the plot.) There is also the Brother Gabriel character, who is so obviously based on David Koresh. Brother Gabriel has a worldwide following and his own little compound, too. To Ms. Brown's credit, though, she does acknowledge the real stories in her own plot line.

The characters in The Switch are pretty smart cookies. Melina has enough brains to know she's in danger and she is able to play the same game as the villain. I don't want to give away the bad guy's name, but he has several well thought-out plans as well. How refreshing it is to read a book where the woman does something other than scream and helplessly wait to die.

There are three distinct love scenes in this book. I'm not a big fan of love scenes in general, especially when they are just added for the sake of arousal without having anything to do with the story. Yeah, yeah, I'm just an old stick in the mud. For what it's worth though, the love scenes are quite steamy and well-written.

The Switch held my attention the majority of the time I was reading it, though the whole cult thing with Brother Gabriel was slightly cheesy. Still, the novel is a worthwhile thriller that will keep your attention until the very uh..."climactic" end and that pun is intended. Enjoy!

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Sandra Brown Books
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