Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Brodie Farrell mysteries by Jo Bannister

One of the best discoveries I made in 2007 was the novels of Jo Bannister. Her mysteries don’t have the flash of Evanovich, the repartee of Parker, they are watercolors done in shades of grey and more satisfying than either of those aforementioned authors. Set in a run-down English seaside town, they concern Brodie Farrell, whose finding agency “Looking For Something?” serves as a springboard for the plots, Jack Deacon, the local detective and Daniel- tutor, amateur astronomer and almost unworldly moral person. He’s quite appealing, being in the mold of Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin. Brodie’s tractor loving young daughter, Paddy, their Polish neighbor, Marta and Sergeant Voss complete the cast of regulars.
The mysteries are complex and often become excruciatingly suspenseful, with a lot of insight into the dark side of human behavior. They are not action packed with gunplay and car chases, but ordinary situations that go wrong, which makes them far more realistic than any television crime show. The atmosphere is a touch gloomy, but not pessimistic, one can smell the sea air, see the rotted fishing nets and hear the noise of gulls; the settings are so vivid. Though there’s an awful lot of murders for such a small town, half the population must’ve been killed off by now. Regardless, anyone looking for intelligent writing with intriguing, slightly eccentric characters ought to sample Bannister’s mysteries, beginning with Echoes of Lies, the first in the series.

Alison and Busby 2002 276 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0749005733

15 comments on “Brodie Farrell mysteries by Jo Bannister

  1. rosyb
    January 12, 2008

    “Regardless, anyone looking for intelligent writing with intriguing, slightly eccentric characters”

    Yes!

  2. Eve
    January 12, 2008

    Oh shivers down my spine… these sound fantastic books. This site will be my ruination 🙂

    Great atmospheric review.

  3. Anne Brooke
    January 13, 2008

    Sounds fab! Must add these to the list.

    :))

    A
    xxx

  4. Ariadne
    January 14, 2008

    Someone I know is very keen on crime mysteries, but the old-fashioned kind without violence (Agatha Christie style). Would this fit the bill? And could anyone recommend more books along those lines?

  5. Leena
    January 14, 2008

    ‘Though there’s an awful lot of murders for such a small town, half the population must’ve been killed off by now’

    A bit like Cabot Cove or Midsomer county, then!!

    Ariadne, you’ve asked the right person – Jackie knows a lot about ‘cosy’ mysteries. (Though I must say the Agatha Christie books I’ve read have seemed rather gruesome to me. But then, I’ve only read a couple… and I may have been a wimpy teenager.)

  6. Jackie
    January 14, 2008

    I wasn’t brave enough to read mysteries as a teen, it wasn’t till I was in my 20’s that I nervously ventured into that territory. Ironically, Agatha Christie was one of the first authors I read in this genre & I didn’t find her gruesome at all. Despite the popularity of the forensic/true crime mysteries, I stick to the ones without violence. P.D. James & Elizabeth George is as graphic as I get & they are very mild. Leena’s term, “cosy” mysteries is delightful!
    The Bannister books aren’t graphically violent, incidents are hinted at, but not described vividly. They are more suspenseful than crime oriented, it’s mostly the characters trying to outwit and unravel the puzzle.
    Other mystery authors I’d recommend are Dick Francis(horses), Peter Treymane(Ancient Ireland), Nevada Barr(forest rangers), Stephen Saylor & Lindsy Davis(Ancient Rome), Robert Parker(modern Boston, witty), and Troy Soos(baseball). That’s all I can think of now, though there are plenty others. Since this is one of my favorite categories to read, there will be plenty of “cosy” mysteries reviewed on this site as time goes on.

  7. Ariadne
    January 15, 2008

    Thanks! I will pass this on.

  8. Mhairi
    January 15, 2008

    I’ve never heard of Jo Bannister. Sounds like another I’m going to have to add to my list. *Sigh*.

    I wish someone would write a review telling me a book is dreadful and that I should, on no account, buy it.

  9. RosyB
    January 15, 2008

    Yes – these kind of blogs are bound to tend to be more positive than not because most of the reviews are of members’ own reading and – I don’t know about you – but if I’m not enjoying a book I stop reading it! But just wait til we get to our Love/Hate debates – that’ll bring on the ire.

  10. Leena
    January 16, 2008

    ‘Yes – these kind of blogs are bound to tend to be more positive than not because most of the reviews are of members’ own reading and – I don’t know about you – but if I’m not enjoying a book I stop reading it!’

    Exactly.

    Or if you’re like me, you may be determined to finish even a lousy book, but you do it in fits and starts of hope and boredom, and once it’s finished the process has been so exhausting that the last thing you want to do is to spend even more time thinking about it…

  11. Caroline
    January 16, 2008

    Ah, that was one of those reviews on VL that made me hotfoot it straight over to Amazon to buy the book! Thanks Jackie, but I’m meant to be working…!

  12. Jackie
    January 17, 2008

    You can get all of Bannister’s books at the libraries, it would be easier on the wallet!

  13. sequinonsea
    January 18, 2008

    “one can smell the sea air, see the rotted fishing nets and hear the noise of gulls; the settings are so vivid. ”

    Ooh, like it! Never heard of Bannister before. I do enjoy a good mystery. So many books to read, so little time!

  14. Isobelle
    September 6, 2010

    Um…you can get the books at the library, but if you enjoy the author’s work it would be kind of nice to repay them by purchasing a few if you can.

  15. Anne H
    January 19, 2011

    I enjoy the Brodie Farrell books but my personal favourites are the Castlemere series. But I do wish Jo Bannister would treat her gorgeous young men better! They are forever being beaten up, kidnapped, injured on the road .. you name it. Poor Daniel! Poor Shad of the Primrose books! And above all, poor Cal!! Does she hate them secretly because they only exist in her imagination – and ours?
    Are her short stories collected? The ones I’ve read, mostly in Ellery Queen’s Mystery magazine, are brilliant.

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2008 by in Entries by Jackie, fiction: mystery and tagged , , , .

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