The book opens with the tale of a former UGA jock turned car salesman getting ready to hit up the strip clubs and party with a friend for a night on the town. Joey McIntosh has done well for himself and is living the good life and would be easy to dislike, yet somehow comes across as a good-hearted guy. Without offering a spoiler, he’ll redeem himself later in the book.
Joey’s night on the town turns bad fast and reminds us that prostitution isn’t really a victimless crime. We’re introduced to a bevy of beautiful young women that ply their trade in the world’s oldest profession, yet the ladies are very likeable and really are the girls next door. That’s sobering for a moment if you think about it, but Brown makes the story work. I found myself rooting for the ladies throughout.
A major character is introduced a few chapters in – Salem Reid. Salem is Atlanta’s Jack Ryan and is guided by his sense of honor and friendship with Joey, and in a surprising twist, with one of the dancers – Sarah is an old girlfriend whom he has not seen in fifteen years. Salem brings all the right skills to the problems at hand and is somewhat MacGyver-like in how he solves problems and tracks the bad guys.
Varied Traits was a great read (about 360 pages) and was a relaxing way to spend a day during the holidays. It is a great first-effort by Brown and I look forward to seeing what’s next from this new author. There were a few passages in the book that weren’t believable (how little time the police spend with Liza when she was in the hospital), but they don’t detract from the story and by the time you get there (Chapter 41) you’ll be friends with the characters and will overlook this piece.
Would I recommend Varied Traits? Absolutely. Brown touches upon prostitution and drug use in the book, yet no more so than you’d see in a movie theater. The author did cause me to reflect upon the fact that the girls caught up in that type of life are human and have families just like the rest of us. There’s a major twist towards the end of the book that I didn’t see coming – you’ll be surprised.