Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannon

In the Belly of Jonah is the first in a series featuring Liz Bergen and FBI Agent Streeter Pierce.  When the body of Jill Brannigan, one of Liz's summer interns, is discovered brutally murdered and mutilated, Liz becomes involved in the investigation because one of the FBI Agents is a college friend. 

Because she so badly wants the killer brought to justice and because FBI Profiler Lisa Henry is someone she knows well, Liz offers her home as a place to stay when Lisa and Streeter Pierce are unable to find hotel rooms.  This puts Liz close to the investigation, but not really included.  However, because of her knowledge of the victim and certain aspects of mining technology, she is able to make some observations that pan out well for the investigators.

For a first novel (and the first in a series), the author does a good job of setting up the characters.  Although Agent Streeter Pierce will evidently feature strongly in successive novels, his role here is somewhat limited.  Brannon concentrates her attention on the development of Liz's character.

What worked best for me was the establishment of Liz's life, both her family involvement and her work background, including her friend Joe.  This information is not terribly detailed, just enough to give you a sense of Liz's work, friends, and family that can be detailed more fully in future books.  I don't think Liz is nearly fully-formed yet, but don't you think that is part of the pleasure?  Watching a character evolve?

One of the best things about discovering a new author with a debut book is knowing that you can watch the author continue to develop and refine techniques, plots, and characters.  

I'm not especially thrilled by the weirdness of the murders.  Have you noticed how often current mystery/crime novels have strange, gruesome, fantastic murders?  Maybe this one bothered me a bit more because I liked the victim, despite the little we get to know about her. 

Next in the series is Lot's Return to Sodom. This may be one that I'll download as an e-book for the trip to Scotland.

Oh, ho!  I take that back...Amazon Kindle is offering Lot's Return to Sodom as a FREE download.  Said and done!  Can't beat that.

Kay (thanks again, Kay!) sent me her copy and now I get the next book for free, too! 

Other ReviewsKay's Random Acts of Reading, Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile, Book Visions  

Fiction.  Mystery/Crime.  2010.  252 pages.


  1. Jenclair, glad this one worked well for you. I'll be interested in hearing what you think about the second book. It's different from this one in many ways. Probably would have worked better for me if I'd been more of a motorcycle fan. LOL

    Can't beat free though, huh?

  2. Hmmm. Guess I better check your review for the second book!

    It IS hard to beat free, and free from Amazon is a rare treat.

  3. It's always fun to find a new author!

  4. I was just contemplating requesting this one from the library. Maybe I'll do so after all. And I agree that sometimes authors go for far fetched murder scenes and am not sure why. It can be sort of disturbing and am not sure I always like that.

  5. sounds like a good rainy day read!

  6. Scotland! When are you going? Oh how fun. I want to come :)

    About the book, sounds like a good one but you touched upon something that does bother me with mysteries. I don't need over-the-top crimes. Actually for some reason I kind of don't like that because it seems like the writer is trying to hard. I prefer they try harder creating interesting characters you know.

  7. Bookmagic - I just read the second book on my Kindle, and I think I'll abandon this series. I hoped it would improve, but the second one, I didn't like at all.

    Danielle - When an author makes the shocking element more important than plot and character, it fails for me.

    Anne - Having read the second one now, I'm not sure I recommend beginning the series.

    Iliana - We will be leaving for Scotland on Aug. 5--just my two daughters and myself. We are pretty excited!

    Evidently extreme violence sells better than just a good story since so many authors take this route. Having just read her second novel, Lot's Return to Sodom, I'm giving up on this series.