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Briarpatch by Ross Thomas (1984)

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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.

Read on vacation (2010) ( )
  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 |
Briarpatch opens with the death of Detective Felicity Dill. Her brother, Ben Dill, journeys home for the funeral and to find out why his sister died. A twisted web of politics, policing and crime quickly surround Dill. He is employed by a Senator who happens to have business in Dill’s home town and is the childhood friend of the criminal who is the subject of that business. While he navigates this dicey terrain, Dill teams up with his sister’s friend and lawyer to manipulate events towards a remarkable conclusion, trusting no one else to find his sister’s killer.

Though written in 1984, there is very little to date this novel. The same story could easily occur today. The only thing that took me out of the story was wondering why it was called Briarpatch, but that eventually comes out though late in the book. In researching the author after the fact, I found that Thomas is known for thrillers with a political twist. He is clearly a master at unmasking the world of professional politics as well as weaving believable and suspenseful crime stories. Ross Thomas wrote 20 standalone crime thrillers and an additional five series novels using the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck. His first novel, The Cold War Swap, won the 1967 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

I would definitely recommend Briarpatch to readers of crime fiction, especially if you enjoy a splash of politics in your crime.

http://iubookgirl.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-briarpatch.html ( )
  iubookgirl | Sep 2, 2011 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:27 -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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