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Hello, Darkness    by Sandra Brown order for
Hello, Darkness
by Sandra Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sandra Brown has written some outstanding romantic thrillers recently - Envy, The Crush, and now Hello, Darkness (a title, by the way, that kept Simon & Garfunkel's Sound of Silence music running through my head all the time I was reading!)

Which is appropriate since the story's heroine is late night radio show host Paris Gibson, who hides behind sunglasses and the darkness of her night job, from her mysterious past (true to form, the author keeps the suspense steady, unveiling her protagonist's secret bit by bit through the novel). Paris plays classic love songs and dispenses advice as 'a late-night friend' to troubled lovers, some of whose calls she airs on her show.

The story opens as Paris takes a sinister call from a regular, Valentino. He blames the breakup of his relationship with a girlfriend on Paris' advice. He warns Paris that he's going to kill the girl within 72 hours, and threatens her as well. She calls the cops immediately, and is shocked to discover that her past has caught up with her in the form of the attractive Dr. Dean Malloy, a psychologist now on staff with the Austin PD.

It turns out that a young woman has disappeared. She is Janey Kemp, the wild daughter of a corrupt judge. Janey is a founder and active member of an Internet Sex Club. High school participants 'solicit sex' via cyberspace, then hang out in selected areas around Lake Travis, where they follow up on their electronic foreplay. Paris, Dean and the Austin PD race against time to try to save Janey.

As always, Sandra Brown develops several candidates as probable serial villains, while keeping the true killer's identity hidden until the very last chapter. It turns out that Dean's son has been involved with Janey, while a police officer often hangs out with the teens at the lake. A dentist is on probation for his sex addiction, and there are two odd characters who work nights at the radio station, and have been charged with sexual offences in the past.

In Hello, Darkness, Sandra Brown gives us a sizzling romance tied into a serial chiller, along with a strong message about the importance of moving on from past mistakes and coming out into the light.

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