Let me say up front this is the fourth installment in the Jarvis Mann series by R. Weir and the first I have read. I love a good detective book and my major requirements are a good plot and lots of action. Blood Brothers does deliver in those areas.
Beginning with Private Investigator Jarvis Mann pursuing a fleeing criminal fifteen years younger than he is, Weir lets his reader know his protagonist is not a young man. While Weir alludes to an earlier incident where Jarvis got shot in “the rear cheek” the incident is never fully revealed leaving me curious. In addition something about the episode also caused significant problems between Jarvis and his girlfriend Melissa. During the chase Jarvis bemoans his lack of his gun but he is trying to “cut down” on his “bullet usage” after the “pre-Christmas bloodbath”. I understand this is part of a series but laying down a teaser like that without elaborating is rather cruel.
Chapter two brings us to the meat of the book when Jarvis receives a telephone call from his sister-in-law in DesMoines. His surprise indicates it is a most unexpected call from someone he has not spoken with in some time. Helen, the long distance sister-in-law, tells Jarvis of her concern for her husband (his brother) Flynn. Although it is evident Jarvis is not comfortable with the idea, he agrees to fly out to his old hometown and check things out. Needless to say Melissa the girlfriend is not thrilled with the idea but she is involved with college classes and her own job.
In spite of his reservations about following his brother, he approaches the task with complete dedication. It’s immediately evident something is wrong; something is off in Flynn’s behavior. Helen is right to be concerned. Although Jarvis reunites with Helen and his niece Jolene, he doesn’t let his brother know he’s in town right away. While following him with what can be described as a flimsy disguise, he discovers Flynn is indeed having an affair with a woman he comes to identify as Casey Gaines.
Throughout the story Weir tosses in flashbacks about Jarvis and Flynn when they were kids and teenagers. Ladies men from the beginning, these brothers have a hard time resisting women and remaining faithful to their wives and lovers. However Flynn’s relationship with the sexy and sex obsessed Casey is much more than an extra-marital affair. As much as Jarvis presses Flynn for more information, Flynn resists. But PI Jarvis manages to learn some details from unlikely sources.
When Jarvis finally confronts Flynn, meeting him at his CPA office, he tells Flynn of Helen’s concerns. Before they really get to discuss the situation two men in black arrive and hustle the brothers off to an FBI office in town. Now the story begins to take on ominous tones. It’s obvious that Flynn is into something extremely dangerous and the FBI has a hand in it.
The basic plot of the story is, while complex and sometimes challenging, very interesting. I was hooked, eager to know what Flynn was hiding and how Casey was involved. Even the introduction of old girlfriends, like Roni, and high school bullies like the James brothers, don’t detract from the momentum of the book.
In the end Weir pulls it all together well, if a little unbelievably. But the disbelief is minor because at the end I was cheering for our lusty detective.
My biggest complaint is the very awkward dialogue. Even in the most dramatic noir novel these conversations would put a reader to sleep. Stilted and banal, when the characters speak all believability flies out the window. Amidst the action and the sex, poor communications stick out like a sore thumb.
As a stand-alone book it gets a passing grade. A little more revelation of Jarvis’s past experiences in relation to the “bloodbath” would make the transition easier. When you throw out a word with that kind of impact you need to add a bit of meat. As a detective novel, the plot is solid, the action fast and furious, and the conclusion clean. If the reader can get past the occasional missing and misspelled words and the implausible dialogue it is worth reading. It would also be practical to read the series from the first book forward since that might aid in continuity.
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