Book Review: Blind Tiger | Bluffton icon
In her twenty-sixth novel, Sandra Brown takes us back to the Prohibition era in Texas to present an ambitious story about a couple linked to the illegal manufacture of whiskey. These are also the societal norms of the 1920s for women.
Blind Tiger (Grand Central Publishing, Hatchette Book Group; ISBN 978-1-5387-5196) is a grand, five-course dinner that completely fills you and satisfies your appetite for action and romance. Really, it’s a big book with room for each character to develop into a fully fleshed out human with human desires and motivations.
Reluctant hero Thatcher Hutton jumps off a freight train to avoid being killed by three men for change. Although he has a hard landing, he is heading for the nearest town. While walking to Foley, Texas, he meets a young woman and recent widow, Laurel Plummer, who tries to hang sheets in a constant wind. Thatcher offers to help and is sharply dismissed. However, he also asks for a glass of water. Laurel accompanies him to the back of his cabin and allows him to drink. Due to the circumstances with a rooster, he ends up touching her, giving the predictable immediate flash of physical attraction needed at the start of their story.
The day he arrives at Foley, the local doctor’s wife goes missing and Thatcher is blamed and arrested, thrown in jail and left sitting there. Sheriff Bill Amos listens to Thatcher’s innocence story, checks the facts, and lets Thatcher out of jail. While remaining a suspect, Thatcher takes a job breaking horses and finds a boarding house.
Meanwhile, Laurel’s stepfather makes moonlight and sells it to local customers. Laurel wants a piece of the action. Under the guise of baking and selling pies, she uses the guise of pastry and delivery to hide what she and her stepdad are doing. Then she begins to expand her line of deliveries to include the rough men who work in oil and drink a lot of “shine.”
But already established whiskey suppliers are doing what they can to shut it down. This includes killing his two delivery men.
At the same time, Thatcher was deputized and trapped in a raid on the local sweatshop, also known as the ‘Blind Tiger’ where the town’s drinkers and prostitutes congregate. He’s hated for it.
It turns out the doctor is guilty of murdering his wife so he can marry a more sexual woman he’s in love with. It doesn’t work for him.
It also turns out that everyone, including the Mayor, Sheriff Amos, and other notable people, is involved in the illegal production and protection of moonlight. Consumption and smuggling are sacred despite the threat of arrest and incarceration of the federal agent in a federal prison.
Then there is Thatcher and Laurel. Smoke rises every time they meet. It is so hot. Both are magnet and iron, sparks included. The sensual tension and heat also affect the reader. I couldn’t ask it. The sex is graceful and consensual, enjoyed by both despite the standards of the time.
It was also the norm in the days when women stayed at home and served their families. Laurel shuns these roles of bondage, choosing to make her way into a man’s world – one of my favorite themes in literature. This is the other story of the book, which is told with conviction and clarity.
What I have written here is a brief summary of a book that exists on a larger scale and on a larger scale. Having never read any of Sandra Brown’s novels before, I am in awe of her talent and will read more of her work in the future. She is so good.