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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  891 ratings  ·  88 reviews
A long-distance call from a Texas city on his birthday gives Benjamin Dill the news that his sister—it's her birthday, too, they were born exactly ten years apart—has died in a car bomb explosion. It's the chief of police calling—Felicity Dill worked for him; she was a homicide detective. Dill is there that night, the beginning of his dogged search for her killer. What he ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 9th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1984)
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  891 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Found this author by chance when I was browsing a group here on Goodreads. This is a relatively fast paced and solid murder mystery/thriller.

Ben Dill holds a rather shadowy position with the government. When his sister, a police detective is murdered he drops everything and returns home to find her killer. Quite a few twists and turns on offer here although I must admit to being a teensy bit disappointed when the killer was finally revealed.

The story has a bit of everything, suspense, politics,
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Audiobook: A Briar Patch can be many things: a hiding place, a place to avoid (as in Star Trek), a thicket of prickly bushes, and a place where you can get all tangled up. Ben Gill experiences all of those things in this book.

Felicity Dill, homicide detective, collects rent due on her duplex, gets in her car, and is blown to bits. Her brother, Ben, is an investigator for a Senate subcommittee. He immediately flies down to his hometown where she worked and discovers a mystery. Felicity had paid $
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finished this about 20 minutes ago and have already forgotten everything about it except that it seemed mostly likable. Like a distant cousin at a wedding named Carol or maybe it was Carrie. (spoiler: it was Cayden)
Mal Warwick
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ross Thomas‘ first novel, The Cold War Swap, was published in 1967. It won the Edgar Allen Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best first novel of that year. As the crime writer Lawrence Block relates in his introduction to the Kindle Edition of the political thriller Briarpatch, published 17 years later, Swap “launched a career that brought [Thomas] no end of awards, an army of fiercely loyal readers, and a whole shelf of books with his name on them, in none of which one will ...more
Sam Reaves
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the best by Ross Thomas, who was one of the best. He won an Edgar for this one in 1985. Thomas's political thrillers featured dry wit, a deep cynicism about politics, and cool, poker-faced heroes who have been around the block a few times. In this one, an aide to an ambitious senator gets a call telling him that his kid sister, a homicide dick back in their hometown, has been killed by a bomb planted in her car. He goes back for the funeral and finds that she was living well above her mea ...more
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
When Detective Felicity Dill dies in a car-bomb outside her home, her brother Ben is shocked to hear the news. He is a congressional investigator in Washington. Ben returns home and starts his own investigation into his sister’s death. There seem to be a pretty large pool of candidates, the ugly case she was working on, a rejected lover and the married police officer she was sleeping with and apparently engaged to. Ben discovers that Felicity was leading a double-life. He also knows this just do ...more
May 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably closer to a 3.5 but nevertheless a good read. Was a 4 up until the last couple of chapters. Finding out who the killer was somewhat spoiled what had been a very good story. I didn't like how the book gave barely a clue leading up to the killer's unveiling, it could have been anyone for all the same reasons. Well written even with the gratuitous wealth of information about every location. My first Ross Thomas but not my last.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
(4.5) About a third of the way through this book, I began to worry. It was such a good read and yet I was concerned it wouldn’t have the velocity to keep up til the end. Fortunately, I was wrong. This is a banger.

I’m a latecomer to Ross Thomas’ work and I have only myself to blame. He really does for the political novel* what Leonard did for noir. The dialogue reminds me of how I thought grownups talked when I was a kid: wry, direct and mature with a light wit. The mystery itself kept me guessi
Michael Fredette
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although he never became the household name that other authors such as Elmore Leonard did, Ross Thomas reputation among crime fiction aficionados is sterling. Briarpatch is an intricately plotted, though relatively straightforward mystery about the killing (by car bomb) of a homicide detective Felicity Dill. At first blush, Dill appears to be corrupt. She owns a rental property that she couldn't necessarily afford. But as her brother Benjamin Dill delves into the case, he discovers that more was ...more
Michael J.
I wasn't aware of Ross Thomas until after my cousin raved about him. I made a note to check out his work, but never followed up on it - - until my cousin decided to relinquish a coveted copy of Biarpatch and loan it to me. Thanks, Dianne! Now I'm a believer and will be reading more.
This starts out with a bang, then gets a little bogged down in the details until all the planted plot threads start to unravel rapidly, and the last third of the book charges like a bullet train. There were enough s
David C Ward
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ross Thomas was one of the best American writers, more than just a genre writer although he was excellent at that. His characters are great as are his descriptions of Americana and could turn a phrase as well as any one. Entertaining too. Can't beat all of that.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Often, Thomas draws in his audience with the subtle allure of crime and double crosses a lá Chinaman's
Chance or Eighth Dwarf. Yet, here Briarpatch's front man subtly wrangles the reader by no virtue of being 'cool' but rather, being rational, believable and the perfect amount of relatable.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
ross thomas was a gifted writer & storyteller.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Taken as just a Ross Thomas novel, this is a 4-star book: it's one of his five best novels (I think), the plot, characters and dialogue are classic Thomas and the themes of alienation, government graft, and moral ambiguity are well-expressed and ring true, despite the clicheed nature of the genre.

As an exploration of Oklahoma City, the author's hometown, the book gets 5 stars. As an aside: I also grew up in Oklahoma City, about four blocks from Ross Thomas' childhood home, so I am likely way mor
Chris Bubb
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a real disappointment. I picked it up on Nancy Pearl's recommendation, and the reviews on the back cover sounded promising. But it just didn't work. Thrillers are supposed to be thrilling; this one wasn't. The pace was slow and there was no action to speak of. Plus, the author kept taking time out to give a back story for every location the main character visited. I didn't really need to know the history of every restaurant where Ben Dill had a ham sandwich, but Ross Thomas made sure to ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
People seem to fart sparklers when they talk about Ross Thomas, and Briarpatch won an Edgar award. So I was expecting Big Things. And it was...pretty good. With zero positive billing, I think I would have been very pleasantly surprised, like the time I ran across Fast & Furious at 2am on USA. When you add in the hype, it's maybe a little bit of a letdown.

Still, it's a perfectly competent thriller in the same tone as early Robert B. Parker stuff. The main character, Dill, is an innocent DC bu
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Out of good stuff to read... I went whining into my bookshop "I need a new author," I whaled. (My shop is quite used to this and JB, the floor manager, keeps a mental list of whine stoppers.) I came home with Briarpatch. Since I wasn't in a great mood to start with, I didn't start this book with an open mind. I was pissed at the whole world of publishing. But, Ross Thomas and his characters sucked me in right away. Ben Dill has to find out who killed his police detective sister and why and he do ...more
Bobby Mathews
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the things I'm trying to do is go back and find classic crime fiction writers whom I may have missed out on. Ross Thomas is one of those. Charles Willeford is another.

Ross Thomas's novel, Briarpatch, is fantastic, and makes me want to IMMEDIATELY buy more of his books.

(This isn't a review, exactly, just a visceral reaction to the book.)
Dec 24, 2009 rated it liked it
This was recommended by Nancy Pearl on KUOW,who praised it for its smart, intricate plot structure. It certainly has that, as well as a nice blending of crime thriller with political conspiracy. Written in 1985, however, the plot probably packed much more topical punch in the era of Iran-Contra scandals.
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The plot is almost too similar to the old 30's novels of Hammett and Chandler, but Ross Thomas puts his own spin on things. The sheer description of the unnamed composite Sun Belt city makes it a must read, not to mention the balance of dark humor and tension.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Unusually, a more "traditional" mystery, with a bit less of the political than normal--but one of his best.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my first Ross Thomas novel and definitely won't be my last. I found this because one of the TV writers/critics I follow is adapting this into a TV series next year. I was curious about what attraction there could be in a little-known mystery novel that is as old as me.

Briarpatch is the story of a political operative who is called back to his hometown (an unnamed Texas capital - hmmm...) when his cop sister is killed in a car-bomb explosion. The characters and atmosphere are what is most
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ben Dill's sister, homicide detective and landlady, dies in a car bomb explosion. Bill takes some time off from his work for a Senator on a committee of some sort looking into political and intelligence skullduggery, to go and bury her and grieve and since this is a thriller maybe find her killer. Meantime he meets up with a very old friend who is one of the subjects of that investigation back in Washington and discovers that it looks very much like his sister was on the take, something Ben comp ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Every time I start to read one of Thomas' novels I struggle (and fail) to understand why he is not more famous. Not one of his novels has more than 1000 votes here on Goodreads as I write this. How come?
Every one of the books I know from him is a wonderful blend of political thriller and Noir novel, with interesting and not quite believable characters (with not quite believable names). Shame.

I do not know what’s going on in his novels half of the time, but that’s probably me, and – interesting e
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the second of Thomas' books I've read, and there is a familiar style and pattern to his work, and he is an outright master as this sort of hard-boiled thriller/ mystery. There's lots of booze, sex, innuendo, and violence in this novel, and the plot progresses at basically a breathless pace.
Benjamin Dill is braving the brutal Texas heat as he goes home upon learning of the murder of his younger sister, a homicide detective who found herself tangled up in a conspiracy on both sides of the
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
My son had read this while on vacation and said I would enjoy it, indeed I did! This book was written the year he was born, so it's 34 years old and reprinted. A fine detective story about a brother trying to figure out who murdered his sister, a police detective. Wonderful writing, interesting characters, including the HOT Texas city where this takes place, you could feel the steamy heat on every page.
Ben Horne
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Ross Thomas proves to be a solid storyteller in this Texas mystery. Ben “Pick” Dill finds out that his sister has died in a car bomb explosion and returns to his hometown to find out who killer her. The plot that ensues was at a fast and furious pace, with a marvelous sense of humor. I enjoyed Pick as a leading man and minor characters were well thought out. Good book!
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first interlibrary loan via TAL. What an awesome system. Started reading this as one of my podcast heroes, Andy Greenwald, is making this into a TV show EP'd by the guy behind Mr Robot. A really enjoyable whodunnit. I need to read more detective books like this. Can't wait for the show!!
Brian K
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great murder mystery that you don't quite figure out till the very end. Amazing characters and setting to boot. Enjoyed the whole book!
Emily Lavender
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Ah the racism of the 80s... convoluted plot and unlikeable characters
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Ross Thomas was an American writer of crime fiction. He is best known for his witty thrillers that expose the mechanisms of professional politics. He also wrote several novels under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck about professional go-between Philip St. Ives.

Thomas served in the Philippines during World War II. He worked as a public relations specialist, reporter, union spokesman, and political strat
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“The redheaded homicide detective stepped through the door at 7:30 A.M. and out into the August heat that already had reached 88 degrees. By noon the temperature would hit 100, and by two or three o'clock it would be hovering around 105. Frayed nerves would then start to snap and produce a marked increase in the detective's business. Breadknife weather, the detective thought. Breadknives in the afternoon.” 5 likes
“Dying in vain isn't really all that bad since nearly everyone does it. It's the living in vain you really have to watch out for.” 2 likes
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