cover image REFLECTIONS


Jo Bannister, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $22.95 (268pp) ISBN 978-0-312-31938-0

Set in Northern Ireland, Bannister's third Brodie Farrell suspense novel (after 2002's True Witness ) tells the emotionally draining tale of two sisters, 14-year-old Juanita and 11-year-old Emerald Daws, left alone in the world after their father allegedly murdered their mother in revenge for her frequent affairs with local teenagers. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the girls' uncle hires Brodie, who runs the search business "Looking for Something?," to find a missing relative to care for them. Brodie disappears for most of the story, leaving Juanita and Emerald in the custody of her friend, out-of-work teacher Daniel Hood, who soon becomes emotionally attached to his young charges, despite their intense hostility toward anyone older than themselves. Wracked with panic attacks from the misfortunes he suffered in True Witness , Daniel proves ineffective as both an instructor and investigator and is nearly killed several times before Brodie returns to help solve this sordid case. Suspense builds gradually in the uncomplicated plot, which at times could use clearer direction with fewer psychological digressions. Bannister's occasional use of Irish slang and syntax may confuse some readers. A tense final scene redeems an overly drawn-out resolution to a disturbing case of mayhem in the wilds of Ulster. (Dec. 8)