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Friday, February 19, 2016

Review: Briarpatch by Ross Thomas

Audiobook: A BriarPatch 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.
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