Requiem for a Dealer (A Brodie Farrell Mystery)

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You can waste a lot of time looking. . . . Or you can pay me to find it for you.

Brodie Farrell is a busy woman, what with running her one-woman firm Looking for Something? and raising her daughter. So on her night off, all she wants is to spend a relaxing evening teaching her friend Daniel Hood to drive. But the evening takes a disturbing turn when Daniel hits a young woman who seems to appear out of nowhere. The girl, Alison Barker, is mostly...

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Overview

You can waste a lot of time looking. . . . Or you can pay me to find it for you.

Brodie Farrell is a busy woman, what with running her one-woman firm Looking for Something? and raising her daughter. So on her night off, all she wants is to spend a relaxing evening teaching her friend Daniel Hood to drive. But the evening takes a disturbing turn when Daniel hits a young woman who seems to appear out of nowhere. The girl, Alison Barker, is mostly uninjured, but before she runs off she accuses Daniel of trying to kill her.

The other man in Brodie's life, Detective Superintendent Jack Deacon, isn't much help; he's too busy investigating a dangerous new drug called Scram. But when Alison Barker turns up at the hospital, not as a result of the car accident but because of the lethal amount of Scram in her system, Jack is forced to get involved. Alison claims that the death of her father, a local purebred horse dealer, was murder—-and that unless someone helps her, she'll be next.

Brodie once again finds herself torn between the two men in her life—-Daniel believes Alison's story, Jack doesn't. It's up to Brodie to infiltrate Alison's world of show jumping and discover the truth herself, before it's too late.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Jo Bannister

“Bannister is one of the genre’s best.” —-Booklist

The Depths of Solitude

“Suspenseful.” —-Publishers Weekly

Reflections

“What makes this mystery so compulsively readable is its sinister, disturbing tone and the perceptive psychological insights Bannister brings to her characters.” —-Deadly Pleasures

“Bannister is one of the undersung treasures of the mystery genre, and it’s high time she got the attention she deserves.” —-Chicago Tribune

True Witness

“Poignant and chilling psychological thriller.” —-Publishers Weekly

“In a novel full of well-developed, interesting characters, Bannister builds a complex case with plenty of surprises that will keep readers guessing about what really happened until the very end.” —-Booklist

Echoes of Lies

“Bannister scores high on character with her persuasive insights into the psychological responses to pain.” —-The New York Times Book Review

Richard Lipez
Bannister's is one of the quirkier series to come out of a part of the world where quirkiness is a kind of regional religion. Not everyone here is a "bunny-boiler" -- Farrell's attention-getting description of Hood's unsteady young woman friend -- but they're all a little weird. Weird, though, in such a nice English way, with lines like: "Brodie was right, there was a thread running through these events which might be considered to connect them -- but where it wasn't lumberingly predictable it was diaphanously tenuous." Diaphanously tenuous! This is mystery writing a long way from Florida, Shanghai or even Zurich.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In Bannister's riveting sixth mystery about professional finder Brodie Farrell (after 2005's Breaking Faith), Brodie's driving lesson for her friend Daniel Hood, a mild-mannered math teacher, comes to a screeching halt long before he's anywhere near the speed limit in their hometown of Dimmock, England. A young women dashes into the street, collides with the car and instead of accepting their help, accuses Daniel of trying to kill her before stumbling off into the dark. Daniel will cross paths again with the girl, whose story also interlocks with an investigation Brodie's boyfriend, Det. Supt. Jack Deacon, is conducting into a potent new illegal drug that's landing teens in the hospital and morgue. Bannister artfully works Brodie's, Daniel's and Jack's relationship issues into her carefully plotted tale of drug dealers and murder. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A hysterical girl and an implicated friend have Brodie Farrell and her finding agency looking for answers in her sixth case. Bannister lives in Northern Ireland. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The sixth traumatic excursion for Bannister's agoraphobic math teacher, his unrequited love and her emotionally retro lover. Just as Daniel Hood is getting the feel of second gear again as professional finder Brodie Farrell encourages him from the passenger seat, Alison Barker dashes into his car. She intones that he won't get her the way he got her horse-trainer father, then tears off. Even though he'd never met her before and knows nothing of her father's death, Daniel feels guilty. So the next day, when Alison is admitted to hospital comatose from Scram, a new drug that's already claimed the lives of two teens, he waits at her bedside for her to awaken and swear that she doesn't do drugs and that horse-transporter Johnny Windham is to blame for her near-death and her father's murder, which the Dimmock CID labeled a suicide. Brodie's lover, Supt. Jack Deacon, thinks Alison's a nutcase but wants to find out who dealt her the Scram. Inevitably, Deacon's, Daniel's and Alison's interests collide, with Brodie wondering whom to believe. Do you trust your best friend more than the man you live with? Can you mediate between the two?The horse-and-druggie plot is barely serviceable, and it's time to stop torturing poor Daniel (Breaking Faith, 2005, etc.). Still, Bannister excels at juggling her main characters' quirks, nuances and seething lapses of loyalty.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312362119
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/12/2006
  • Series: Brodie Farrell Mysteries Series , #6
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of over twenty acclaimed novels, Jo Bannister started her career as a journalist after leaving school at sixteen to work on a local weekly newspaper. Shortlisted for several prestigious awards, she left a career as an editor to pursue her writing full time. She lives in Northern Ireland and is currently working on her next novel. Breaking Faith is the fifth in her series featuring Brodie Farrell, Daniel Hood, and Jack Deacon.

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Read an Excerpt

Requiem for a Dealer

Chapter One

Now they were committed, Brodie found herself wondering if she'd made a terrible mistake. There are some things that even friends, even good friends, shouldn't do for one another. Things that are better left to the professionals. Professionals who had seen it all before, and wouldn't laugh when you got it wrong.

But it was too late for second thoughts. Daniel would be hurt if she changed her mind. It had been, she knew, a long time since he tried this: if she put him off now, gave him instead the number of a girl she knew, left him with the impression that she had no confidence in his ability to come up with the right moves after so long, she thought he might never find the courage to try again.

She took a deep breath and tried to make herself comfortable. A dew of sweat was on her brow, which was ridiculous. There was nothing to be embarrassed about: this was something she did all the time. But not with him, and not giving a running commentary on how to do it.

At least he wouldn't be criticising her technique. Daniel had told her candidly that he hadn't been much good at it even when he was getting a bit of practice. When Brodie suggested giving him a refresher course, at first he was doubtful. Then he seized the opportunity with enthusiasm. As he said, who knew when he would get another? So she really had to go through with it. It would be over soon enough.

'OK,' she said, hoping she sounded calmer than she felt, 'let's do this. Gently but firmly. There's no rush, but don't think it's going to bite you either. Take a firm grip and push it in ...that's it, that's good ...and then, gently, let the clutch out ...'

As the car moved forward with barely a lurch, intense concentration furrowed the brow between the top of Daniel's glasses and his mop of yellow hair.

'Relax,' Brodie said softly, 'you're doing fine. Keep an eye on the mirror and check your position on the road.'

'Drive,' muttered Daniel.

Brodie misunderstood. 'You want me to take over? So soon?'

'No. I mean, we aren't on the road yet - we're still in yourdrive.'

Brodie started to laugh. The things they'd been through together, the things they'd survived, and this was what had reduced them to grunted communication through clenched teeth. 'I thought we'd save that for the second lesson.'

She wasn't exactly laughing at him, but Daniel wouldn't have minded if she was. He brought her car to the most controlled of halts, put on the handbrake and got it out of gear before he turned to look at her. 'You really don't want to be doing this, do you?'

She linked her arm through his and hugged it. 'Of course I don't,' she chuckled honestly. 'Let's do it anyway.'

'On the road this time?'

'On the road,' she nodded. 'You've got your licence, the car's insured, and you're not suddenly going to throw a handbrake turn at me, are you? You've every right to be on the road. Daniel, you know how to drive a car. You passed your test when you were eighteen. All you need to do is get your eye in again.'

'It's been a while,' admitted Daniel. He reached for the gearstick, eased it into first. 'As the actress said to the bishop.'

Brodie had her mouth open to correct him but then let it pass. Either they could discuss the respective lifestyles of the apocryphal couple or they could get on with the driving lesson. 'Exactly. Now, check the road and if there's nothing coming, turn left. And somewhere along here you might want to try second gear.'

He tried second gear, then third. He made a right turn. He overtook a woman on a bicycle. The tense corrugations of his brow began to soften and a boyish grin lit his face. 'I'd forgotten how much fun this is ...'

As if a malicious God had heard him, disaster shot out of a side street. They'd turned up Fisher Hill, passing Shack Lane where Brodie had her office. The short autumn evening had turned dark a couple of hours before and a fine rain was falling. There were street lights on Fisher Hill, but not many of them, and those that were working produced more glow than illumination. Neither Daniel nor Brodie saw more than a glimpse of the figure that, running in the rain, emerged from an alley between the old housesand went to cross in front of them. But the resounding bang off the nearside wing left no room for doubt.

The car was only doing fifteen miles an hour and Daniel braked to a standstill almost instantly. He spared a second to look at Brodie, the eyes of both of them wide with shock. 'I've hit someone,' he said quietly. Then he was out of the car. In another moment Brodie had found the handle on her side and joined him.

Her first thought - and she recognised immediately that it was a selfish one - was that they'd never had a chance of avoiding the accident. Someone who dashes in front of a car on a wet night wearing a long dark mackintosh is responsible for their own misfortune. Even now it was hard enough to make out what the thing beside the car was. It didn't look like a human being. It didn't even look like a bundle of clothes. Mostly it looked like a black plastic bag blown into the road.

Daniel was bending over it, wondering if he dared touch it or if it would only make things worse. 'We're going to need an ambulance,' he said over his shoulder. His voice had the flat, hollow sound of someone refusing to panic.

Brodie nodded jerkily and reached back into the car for her phone.

But before she could dial the black plastic bag gave a sudden spasm and sat up. Brodie saw a white face spattered with mud down one side and a white hand held up shakily to fend off the stooping man. A woman's voice rose in a tremulous crescendo. 'Get away from me!'

On the bright side, thought Brodie, she didn't sound like someone hammering at death's door. She put her phone down on the car seat and went to see if she could help. 'It's all right, don't be afraid. You've had a bit of an accident but we'll take care of you. Are you hurt?'

As soon as it was out she thought it was a bloody stupid question: the woman had bounced off a moving vehicle and hit the road, of course she was hurt. She wasn't sitting in the gutter because she liked the view from down there.

And then she wasn't sitting in the gutter at all. With remarkable strength for someone who'd just head-butted a carshe staggered to her feet and backed away until she met the wall of the Fisher Hill cottages. They came in various colours: this was a pale pink one, rosier than usual in the soft-focus light from the street lamp.

By contrast the woman - or maybe she was only a girl, late teens or early twenties - had no colour at all. Her face was ashen, her long wet hair dark, her long wet coat black. But there was no blood that Brodie could see, and none of the crippling awkwardness that betrays a broken limb.

Brodie reached a hand towards her. 'Won't you sit down for a minute? Sit in the car while we work out if we need an ambulance or if we can safely take you to A&E ourselves. What do you think - is there much damage done?'

Afraid the girl might have injuries she was not yet aware of herself, Brodie touched her shoulder with no more than a fingertip, to guide her to the car. The girl's reaction was out of all proportion. Unable to retreat further she spun sideways, her eyes staring wildly, keeping close to the wall. 'Stay away from me!' she yelled again, her voice cracking.

By now the noise was attracting attention. They didn't twitch net curtains on Fisher Hill - they opened their front doors and stood on the steps, watching with undisguised interest.

'You need to calm down,' Brodie said, allowing a trace of firmness to creep into her voice. 'You need to calm down and sit down, and I'll call the police and let them know what's happened.'

'Yeah, right!' snorted the girl. The shock was giving way now to anger: such anger that she shook and panted with it. 'With half a dozen witnesses I don't suppose you've much choice. Well, tell them what you want. Tell them it was an accident; tell them it was my fault. They'll believe that - they think my whole damn family's suicidal. But I know who sent you. Give him my regards. Tell him, better luck next time.'

Daniel was peering at her through his thick spectacles, his plain round face bewildered. 'I don't understand. Are you saying ...you think I hit you deliberately?'

The girl managed a wild, half-hysterical laugh. 'Whatever would make me think a thing like that?'

'I don't know you. Why would I want to hurt you?'

'I don't think you wanted to hurt me,' spat the girl. Hatred vibrated in her voice. 'I know what you wanted to do. And I know why you wanted to do it. And who knows, maybe next time it'll all work out for you. But think about this. That'll leave you as the last soul alive who knows what Johnny Windham is capable of.'

And with that she was away, running, across the road and into another of the Fisher Hill entries, vanishing in the darkness.

For what seemed a long time Daniel and Brodie looked at one another, and at the woman in the floral pinny and the man in the sleeveless pullover who'd come to the door with his dish-mop still in his hand. Finally Brodie gave herself a shake. 'I suppose I'd better tell Jack about this.'

Daniel's frown was disapproving. He was embarrassed by Brodie's habit of bending people to her use. 'Jack's a detective superintendent - this was a traffic accident. I'll go round to Battle Alley and report it to the duty sergeant.'

Brodie shrugged. 'It'll go in the book.'

'It should go in the book. That girl could be hurt. Someone ought to find her, make sure she's all right.'

'She looked all right,' sniffed Brodie, using a long-fingered hand to push the cascade of dark curls away from her face. 'You know what vets say - you don't have to worry about patients you can't catch.' He went on regarding her with that quiet reproach that was harder to ignore than an argument. 'Oh, all right, let's do the thing properly. Do you want to drive or ...?'

But he was already in the passenger seat and refused to meet her gaze.

 

Sergeant McKinney saw them on the CCTV, put down the mug of tea he'd been looking forward to and went out to the front desk. There would be other tea-breaks. But a man who took an interest in events in and around Dimmock couldn't afford to take his eye off this pair for too long. 'A problem, Mrs Farrell?'

Brodie explained what had happened.

'And Mr Hood was driving?' Daniel nodded. 'Can I see your licence and insurance?' Daniel produced the one, Brodie theother. 'Well, that seems to be in order. She ran out of Hunter's Lane, you say?'

Daniel gave his lopsided shrug. 'She must have. She was running, and there was nowhere else she could have come from. But I didn't see her until she hit the wing.'

'Me neither. You know what the lighting's like up there,' said Brodie. 'And she was wearing a long dark coat of some kind.'

'And afterwards she got up without assistance?'

'Got up and ran off,' nodded Brodie. 'Into The Ginnell. Whether she had a car parked up there or was making for one of the cottages I don't know. I was too surprised to follow.'

'And you didn't get her name.'

'There wasn't much time,' said Daniel apologetically.

'Then it's hard to see what more you could have done,' conceded Sergeant McKinney. 'I'll check with the hospital to see if she turned up there. But it sounds to me it was more her fault than yours and there was no great damage done anyway. If she makes a complaint I'll get back to you; otherwise you should probably forget about it. Only next time you fancy a driving lesson, Mr Hood' - he lowered one eyebrow meaningfully - 'perhaps a nice sunny day would be more suitable than a wet night.'

'We'll bear that in mind,' said Brodie, a shade tartly. She still thought they could have met the letter of the law by recounting the incident to her partner. 'Can we go now? My babysitter will be wondering where we've got to.'

After they'd gone Constable March, who was manning the desk, said, 'Wasn't that ...?'

'That's right, son,' said Sergeant McKinney, deadpan.

'She's a bit of a looker, isn't she?'

'Out of your class, that's for sure.'

'And she and Detective Superintendent Deacon ...?'

'Exactly.'

'And the guy with her - Daniel Hood. He's her ...bit on the side?'

Sergeant McKinney bent a censorious eye on him. 'You're new around here, lad, so I'll give you a word of advice. Mrs Farrell and Mr Deacon are an item, Mrs Farrell and Mr Hoodare not. They are friends. Nothing more, nothing less. You don't have to understand it, I don't have to understand it. We don't even have to believe it. But those of us who don't want to wake up with a crowd round us and the imprint of Mr Deacon's fist on our noses would do well to remember it.'

REQUIEM FOR A DEALER. Copyright © 2006 by Jo Bannister. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y 10010.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Brodie¿s sixth mystery is a terrific mystery

    In Dimmock, England, Finder Brodie Farrell provides driving lessons to her friend schoolteacher Daniel Hood. However, they barely are in the car when a girl runs into their vehicle. Half hysterical, she accuses driver Daniel of trying to kill her, which seems odd to Brodie as the pedestrian raced out of nowhere into their car. The girl flees into the night leaving behind two bewildered people.----------------- Brodie mentions this incident to her boyfriend Detective Superintendent Jack Deacon, but he is preoccupied as a new designer drug Scram is inundating Dimmock. He must find the manufacturing plant/lab to shut it down before more deaths occur. His prime concern is to find the Scram factory and stop the drug at its source before more people die. When the girl who hit the car turns up in Dimmock General Hospital from a Scram overdose, Jack visits her to see what she knows. She is Alison Barker, a former show jumper until the death of her father, who allegedly committed suicide but she insists was murdered and that the culprits are coming for her. While Daniel accepts her word Jack thinks she lies Brodie decides to learn the truth one way or another.--------------------- Brodie¿s sixth mystery is a terrific mystery that focuses on the illegal designer drug industry that makes billions on the backs of teens and young adults. Brodie¿s investigation is more professional than amateur as her work as a professional finder is similar to that of a private investigator. Jo Bannister provides a delightful mystery enhanced by the romantic triangle.------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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