Briarpatch by Ross Thomas. Penguin Books, 1985.
1985 Edgar Award Winner for Best Novel
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.
Reading challenge : Edgar Awards
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The Cold War Swap