It’s 1973 as this third novel in the Jimmy O’ Brien series opens. Jimmie’s latest assigned client is Robbie Farris accused of murder and currently residing in the L. A. County Jail. Jimmy knows his client is guilty and to make matters worse very uncooperative. After butchering his former college professor by stabbing him 27 times, Robbie has found Jesus and rants and raves about the Lord and how he must atone for his crime. The case includes Robbie’s bloody finger prints at the scene, his confession and other evidence and Jimmy is thinking that the insanity defense might be the only way to save Robbie’s life.

With his client being so uncooperative, Jimmy decides the best thing to do is to go talk to Robbie’s Mom who lives out near Chatsworth. Hazel Farris is his Mom and she lives out there somewhere in a beat-up Airstream trailer. After a strange visit with her, she agrees and signs the necessary paperwork for O’Brien who thinks things are going to get better.

Things go from rough to disastrous as within hours of Jimmy O’Brien being in her home; Hazel is dead with evidence indicating that he was the last one to see her and may have killed her. With the police already investigating him, Robbie manages to escape his arraignment and in the aftermath, a deputy blames Jimmy O’Brien. O’Brien is certainly not a favorite of the local police and court system for multiple reasons detailed in “One, Two, & Even” and “Six to Five…Against” and things have not improved in the recent past. It is 100 plus everyday, the air is smoggy, the bad guys want O’Brien dead and the cops want him in jail or dead – they don’t care which.

The latest in the series presents another cozy style atmospheric read that is heavy into relationships. Jimmy’s friendship going back ten years with Sol is detailed as is his romance with Rita who wants to be his partner in the firm some day and is attempting to defend him against all charges. Mabel also reappears as his cranky secretary who knows all and has opinions on everything. Those secondary characters and a number of others familiar to readers return again in this enjoyable read.

At its heart “The Brimstone Murders” recently released by Echelon Press is a slow moving cozy style mystery featuring a case that meanders for most of the book before rapidly picking up steam. The action towards the end of the novel borders on the slapstick absurd and yet, if one doesn’t think about it too much; believable enough that it doesn’t totally jar the reader out of the story. The book is a pleasant diversion and while not spectacular, a solid performance that continues to build on an interesting and enjoyable series.

The Brimstone Murders: A Jimmy O’Brien Mystery Novel

Jeff Sherratt

Echelon Press

February 2008

ISBN# 1-59080-552-6


287 Pages


Review copy provided by P. J. Nunn owner of BreakThrough Promotions in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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