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Briarpatch by Ross Thomas (1984)

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Audiobook: A Briar Patch can be many things: a hiding place, a place to avoid (as in Star Trek), a thicket of prickly bushes, and a place where you can get all tangled up. Ben Gill experiences all of those things in this book.

Felicity Dill, homicide detective, collects rent due on her duplex, gets in her car, and is blown to bits. Her brother, Ben, is an investigator for a Senate subcommittee. He immediately flies down to his hometown where she worked and discovers a mystery. Felicity had paid $37,000 cash for a very expensive duplex several months earlier and just a few weeks before her death had taken out a $250,000 term life policy with her brother as the beneficiary. Where did she get the money, and why would a twenty-eight-year-old woman take out a life insurance policy that large. Ben soon discovers a quagmire of murder and corruption.

He’s also been sent to get a deposition from an old friend Jake Spivey, ex-CIA who is being pursued by Clyde Brattle. All three had been involved during the Ford administration with trying to locate a threesome, known as the Jaspers who had apparently made off with millions that had been dispensed by Nixon to the “plumbers.” Brattle and Spivey were also the targets of the subcommittee's investigation that involved weapons sales after Vietnam.

Ross is a very good writer with images like, “it had no color unless winter rain has color.” And while I have nothing against protagonists who hop into bed with every woman (or girl) they meet (you know, like Reacher) Ben has plenty of offers but the good sense to hold off since virtually everyone has some kind of alternate agenda. Everything is linked together as one might expect. The ending is a bit unsatisfying and perhaps a sequel was intended.

As usual, well read by Frank Muller, who regretfully is no longer with us. ( )
  ecw0647 | Feb 19, 2016 |
Ben Dill, who works for a Senate subcommittee in Washington, D.C., gets a phone call from the chief of homicide in his home town. His younger sister, a homicide detective, has been killed by a car bomb. Ben flies to the unnamed city (which appears to be in Oklahoma or perhaps Kansas) and discovers many puzzling aspects to the case. With the help of his sister's lawyer and friend, the beautifully-named Anna Maude Singe, he begins investigating. In the process he meets up with a childhood friend who is also a person of interest to Ben's subcommittee. Byzantine intrigue has nothing on this political thriller. Fascinating characters and a setting that, although it is never named, is described in completely believable detail, add to this book's fine qualities which won it the Best Novel award for its year. The ending, however, was a bit inconclusive for my taste. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
The body count in this book really undermines the suspension of disbelief, and the sex scenes, while not of the notoriously (and humorously) bad sort, do really date the book a bit (still hearing the reverberations of the heyday of Playboy serialization).

But well done, otherwise. Thomas near the top of his game. ( )
  ehines | Feb 27, 2012 |
This is a great beach book: highly suspenseful, with a couple of unexpected twists at the end, written in a breezy, very readable style. Also somewhat forgettable after finishing. ( )
  sturlington | Feb 25, 2012 |
Read for 4MA discussion. The narrative style is cool and was a little offputting for me at first, but I soon got swept into the story of a man who is trying to figure out why his police officer sister was assassinated in an unnamed city (cougn, Oklahoma City, cough). Much skullduggery is brought to light.
  bfister | Feb 5, 2012 |
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The redheaded homicide detective stepped through the door at 7:30 A.M. and out into the August heat that already had reached 88 degrees.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312290314, Paperback)

A long-distance call from a Texas city on his birthday gives Benjamin Dill the news that his sister—it’s her birthday, too, they were born exactly ten years apart—has died in a car bomb explosion. It’s the chief of police calling—Felicity Dill worked for him; she was a homicide detective. Dill is there that night, the beginning of his dogged search for her killer. What he finds is no surprise to him, because Benjamin Dill is never surprised at what awful things people will do—but it’s a real surprise to the reader. As Newsday said when the novel was first published, “One sure thing about Ross Thomas’s novels: A reader won’t get bored waiting for the action to start.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Presents the story of a Washington, D.C. policeman, the murder of his sister under suspicious circumstances, and his investigation of the crime.

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