SHINING A LIGHT ON JO BANNISTER

Jo Bannister is the author of three series, which I have read, a two book set which I have not read, and stand-alones some of which I have read.  All the books in the various series that I did read have been worth the time.

The first series features Dr. Clio Rees, a physician and mystery writer and Harry Marsh, a chief inspector in a force somewhere in England.  These books were written in the ’80’s and ’90’s with wide gaps between books.  The last of this series was published in 2005.  I’ll try to track that book down.

Series two is a police procedural.  Detective Chief Inspector Frank Shapiro, Inspector Liz Graham, and Sergeant Cal Donovan live and work in the small city of Castlemere.  The first book in the series, A BLEEDING OF INNOCENTS,  introduces the main characters and a theme that runs through the series.  Cal Donovan is Irish, so there are questions about tie-ins with the IRA, but as the series begins the reader learns that Cal’s partner and superior officer was killed in a suspicious accident which Cal believes was ordered by the local crime king, Jack Carney.  There are seven books in the series, written between 1993 and 2000.  There is character development as the series progresses but Cal is always the outsider in part because of his Irish roots.  During this period, the IRA was very active in England; Bannister keeps the books current by reflecting the time in which they were written. Anyone with an Irish surname or the hint of a brogue was a suspect whether there was genuine cause or not.  Cal resents the attitude but it doesn’t diminish his commitment to the people of the city.

The third, and most recent series, features Brodie Farrell, the single mother of a four-year old daughter, who works as a detective of sorts.  Brodie is the owner of Looking For Something, a business dedicated to finding whatever someone wants.  It could be the missing piece of china that would complete the family heirloom set or it could be a brother who hasn’t been heard from since he sent a postcard from New Zealand ten years ago.  In ECHOES OF LIES, the first in the series, a woman comes to Brodie with a picture of a man she says cheated the family out of a large sum of money.  Brodie has no trouble finding Daniel Hood, a young math teacher at a local school.  When Daniel is beaten and tortured and left for dead Brodie feels some responsibility and reports her involvement to the police.  Daniel is a victim and Brodie wants to know why.  Together, she and Daniel try to get to the root of his beating; what was he thought guilty of? The answer to the question explains the severity of his treatment. The introduction of Detective Inspector Jack Deacon rounds out the cast of main characters for the series.

Jo Bannister is a prolific writer.  She writes three similar series but they are completely different.  No one is going to confuse Castlemere and Brodie’s town of Dimmock and no one is going to see the shadows of the characters of one series cast over the characters of another.  She is an author worth reading.

ECHOES OF LIES is a compelling story.  Daniel Hood is not the usual character in any story; Daniel cannot lie even to save his life and that character trait is very nearly a flaw for Daniel.  There are nine books in the series, the last published in 2009, and I hope there are more soon.

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