The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.
Seeing Red by Sandra Brown is an intriguing story about redemption and second chances intertwined within a “who done it” mystery. The complexity of the plot originates with the lies and deceit.
The saying that fate plays a role in everyday life where someone can be at the wrong place at the wrong time is the starting point for this novel. Twenty-five years ago a bombing at the Dallas Hotel, the Pegasus, leaves 98 dead and 197 wounded. An iconic photo was taken of Major Franklin Trapper rescuing a little five-year-old girl from the building’s ruins. Although he was never the reluctant hero and has played off his fame, the last few years he has gone into seclusion. Fast-forward to twenty-five years later, where that girl, Kerra Bailey, now a Dallas reporter, is trying to get an interview with the Major. She is hoping to gain national fame during the exclusive as she tells the world that she is the girl in the photo.
Brown commented, “the iconic photo of the fireman carrying the child out was blazed into my mind. That iconic photo made an impact on everyone in the world who saw it. It was horrible and heartbreaking. It really resonated with me. And I got to thinking about other iconic photos of history. There was the raising-of-the-flag at Iwo Jima, the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square on V-E Day, the Vietnamese girl running naked down the road, covered in napalm. Each of these photographs tells a story that affect people in a profound way. I thought about how the photos impact the people who are actually in the photographs? In the Major’s case, he has made a whole career out of that photo and the fame that ensued. It defines him for the remainder of his life. What must that be like? And what must it be like for someone to live in his shadow, such as his son Trapper?”
Hitting roadblocks she contacts the Major’s son John Trapper, a former ATF agent, to help her get the exclusive. Persuaded to do the interview, the Major and Kerra re-live those horrific moments. But more chaos ensues afterward when two gunmen shoot him, with Kerra barely escaping. Looking to protect his father and Kerra, Trapper renews his interest in the case and hooks up with her literally and figuratively. There are some hot romantic scenes as they are joined at the hip trying to find out who is behind the original bombing and the shootings.
The strength of the story lies with the characters. Kerra is not a typical journalist, putting her conscience ahead of her ambition. She is not insensitive and does not act “like vultures circling a wounded animal, waiting for it to die.” She is poised, smart, personable, and tenacious. She plays off well with Trapper who is at times rude, aggressive, intelligent, and proud. He is still haunted by the regrettable choice of his father who put fame over family. The Major is a very complex character who is at times likeable and at other times dislikeable. He cares about his family, but will sacrifice them to bask in the sun, becoming corrupted by fate and fame. The regrettable choice ruins any chance of a relationship with his son Trapper.
Brown believes “The Major was ego-driven with his family becoming secondary. He stepped into the hero role easily and embraced it. Being former military he became a Patriot to admire and a champion that society needed. He had the courage to take the time to go back and get Kerra instead of just running out of the building. Kerra is a character I admire. She didn’t let her profession overcome her humanity. She knew where the line should not be crossed. I describe the media in the book, but it does not apply to her: They act ‘like vultures circling a wounded animal, waiting for it to die.’ She is ambitious, goal-driven, and a hard worker. Trapper is a flawed hero. His life was one long game of catch-up. A game he could not possibly win, since the expectations for him were so high and unrealistic. He did have a defining moment even if it was the worst thing he could fear. He self-sacrificed.”