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Closer Still - Jo Bannister

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Jo Bannister / Hardcover / 288 Pages / Book is published 2008-05-26 by ALLISON & BUSBY

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      06.05.2009 17:42
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      Excellent crime thriller

      ==Background:==

      I have in the past few years read several novels written by Jo Bannister. For me she writes a good suspense book, which are down to earth and believable fiction. I came across this one in my local library and knew I must read it as soon as I could.

      ==About the author:==

      Jo Bannister was born in England in 1951. She has written over 20 successful novels so far in her writing career and specialises in the Detective or Private Investigator investigation books. This book I am reviewing is the latest of eight featuring Brodie Farrell. Before becoming a writer Bannister worked for many years on a Newspaper.

      ==Synopsis of the story:==

      Joe Loomis is a local criminal operating in the seaside town of Dimmock. He starts to take an interest in Detective Superintendent Jack Deacon's girlfriend Brodie Farrell and her baby Jonathan. Jack decides this interest is unsavoury and he will make sure he will not go near either of them again.

      Brodie makes a living finding things for people such as information. She is interrupted one night soon after by Loomis literally falling into her office. Discovering he has been stabbed and before the Ambulance can take him away he dies. But before he does he tries to tell Brodie who it was that stabbed him by but only a single syllable comes out, which is D.

      This put Deacon under suspicion especially as he is unable to prove where he was at the time of the incident and seems unwilling to even discuss where he was. Things take a dramatic turn when the CCTV pictures are studied as an Arab is seen twice entering and leaving Loomis's pub. This man is known to have been involved in international terrorism for Al-Qaeda. What is happening in this sleepy town? Can the Police keep the town and it's people safe with this scary threat?

      ==My thoughts on the book:==

      I enjoyed reading this suspense novel, it took me just a weekend to read it, but to be honest I did little else and it was one of those novels once you pick it up you don't want to put back down. It was fast paced, exciting and I really didn't have a clue in which direction the author was taking us next. Certainly from this perspective it was full of surprises and quite different from her previous work.

      This novel was written in 2008 and brought the reader completely up to date on the Brodie/Deacon story that had featured in seven stories before. However it would not effect your enjoyment of this story if you had never read one of these stories before, as it is an ongoing story, which does not harp on about what has happened previously.
      Although it is always nice to know the characters complete histories, as you can understand why they see things in a certain way, when logic tells you something completely different.

      As soon as I noticed this book by Jo Bannister I decided I must read it. As I like her relaxed but thoughtful style of writing and find she writes a clever well thought out story. That and the affinity I feel for the characters in these books make me always to want to read them and learn about the latest exploits.

      Initially I thought the title of the book was an interesting choice and I wondered what she had in mind. Was she referring to the triangular relationship between Brodie and her partner Deacon or her relationship with her closest friend Daniel Hood? Maybe it was nothing at all about them, just a friendship that changes over time? Regardless I knew I had to read it to find out the answer and the title alone got me wondering.

      So I read the summary of the book on the inside of the cover of it. This unlike many books I have read recently had a decent length in size and provided the basic picture of what the piece was about. It captivated me as it contained several different themes and I pondered how these would interlink with each other and how Deacon would deal with them.

      Initially I found the pace of the book quite gentle. It was dealing with threats by Loomis and Deacon. I found this part of the book both touching and sentimental as it dealt in some depth with the blindness of Deacon and Brodie's six-month-old son. He was due to have an operation on his eyes and I thought the author handled the emotions of both parents superbly; I was totally engrossed in it and how both parents were dealing or not dealing with this unimaginable situation.

      Even though I found it a little slow going, I found it humanised the problems of two strong minded individuals and it demonstrated what was really the most important thing in their lives, in a wonderful and enlightening way. I thought the author was brave to bring these severe problems into their lives and for me showed more depth in her writing abilities and brought a lump to my throat when reading her excellent description of it.

      But when the local gangster Joe Loomis is murdered I thought I knew where the book was headed. I thought it would be Brodie's attempt to try and protect her partner Deacon and prove the killer was someone else. However I was completely taken by surprise by the road the author took and while this was a theme there were more important one to come.

      Bannister has moved into the world of International Terrorism and for me bang up to date in the new World order. As the Police tried to deal with the perceived threat of this and not alarm the community but protect them for what seemed a very real threat. I was impressed with the concept behind this and impressed with the writers up to date thinking and how she believed people would react given this level of threat.

      The direction of the book was transformed. From this point on the novel was fast paced and extremely exciting and the sentimentality was for the most part forgotten. As the Dimmock public went into panic mode on hearing via the press that there was a terror threat threatening their town.

      For me this was a bit of a shame as I was enjoying the original murder story of Brodie investigating the case and proving Deacon's innocence. But now the Police and the Public dealt with the crisis was always fascinating and at times very funny too, as no one acted like what certainly I would have expected and one of two of the scenes were hysterical.

      I like the way the author added this 'black humour' into such a serious and volatile situation. It seemed to somehow make sense of the ridiculous situation the town found itself in and made me chuckle several times.

      It was cleverly written all the way through, with the author only revealing enough information so that Brodie and Deacon working separately had to find what was missing or deduce it by logical thinking. Brodie investigating the gangsters killing while Deacon was working on the Terrorist threat.

      One thought that stuck me while reading this was, how nice it would be if these two where for once on the same side, working together dealing with a situation. Maybe that will come in a future novel, but with them working always separately it certainly adds spice and gives the reader more to think about.

      I found the resolution to all this believable and logical. I am just not convinced the Public would have acted in quite the way they did to the threat of terrorism, it just seemed to extreme and unlikely for me. But I hope it never happens to prove me right or wrong on this account.

      This novel was superb in its use of suspense to keep the reader always guessing about what was really happening. I have in the past criticised the author for not being as dramatic or up to date with what is happening in the World. I take it all back after reading this story, she is more with it than me!!

      These books have three main characters who I find fabulous and I really enjoy reading all about their unique triangular and changing personal relationships. They are all strong characters who fit together perfectly in the story and compliment one another perfectly, with their diverse views on the world.

      What Bannister also did well was the mystery she added with her support characters. So that the reader never really knew what their agenda really was and be putting a few red herrings in the piece to throw the careful reader onto the wrong track and make them reconsider what it was all about.

      The book was quite a bit longer than the usual Bannister novels. However in this case it really needed it as the novel had far more going on and to do justice to this it required far more depth, thought and intelligent writing.

      What I really liked about this novel was it got me thinking. A subject of International terrorism is one we all hear and see on television most days but never expect it will happen to us or in our locality. This made me consider this subject and wonder about how it could be dealt with and how I would feel about it.

      I have so little adverse comment to say about this strong and fascinating book. I suppose my only wonder would be because terrorism is such a complex and all involving subject, did the novel need both stories? Would it have been better to have just the one and spun it out and made it deeper and more complex? For me the answer is no, as I had a good flavour for it plus another except story as a bonus too. They way they were both written I felt they had been dealt with excellently by the author.

      When I searched a few sites for this novel, I noticed currently it is only available on Hard Back format. This I find surprising as in these troubled times a paperback is so much cheaper and affordable. I think you would have to be a real fan to buy the hardback version, or get it second hand maybe.

      ==Conclusion:==

      This was a well-written and exciting mystery. It had so much going on within it, with superb characters to back up the fascinating and very scary themes. I did not have a clue in what direction the author would take us next. I would certainly recommend this as the best novel I have read by this author in this series as it was such a thought provoking novel for me and I'm sure anyone else who reads it.

      Pages: 335
      Publisher: Allison and Busby
      Year: 2008
      ISBN: 978-0-7490-7926-0
      Price: £13.19 (Hardback)
      About the author: www.fantasticfiction/b/jo-bannister


      Thanks for reading.

      This review is written under my user name on Ciao and Dooyoo.

      @CPTDANIELS May 2009.

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