images_049Northern Ireland is the home to Jo Bannister, author of the Brodie Farrell and four other series, but in her newest she takes us to the small British town of Norbold, in the highly satisfying read, Deadly Virtues.

Protagonist Hazel Best the newest recruit in Norbold’s force, a woman who chose to enter the force for her own reasons. She is determined to do a good job and gain the attention of her popular and effective Chief Superintendent,  John Fountain.

Gabriel Ash is a man haunted by an unexplained tragedy in his life. Known as Ash, his rescued dog, Patience, is the only reason he has to get out of bed in the morning most days.

These two unlikely people will join forces after law student Jerome Cardy is killed by a crazed maniac while on remand in police custody.

Sleeping off an assault and concussion with his dog in the safe haven of a Norbold cell, Ash crosses Cardy’s path when the two are temporarily housed together. Before leaving Ash’s cell, Cardy tells him: “I had a dog once. Othello. That was its name. Othello.”

After Cardy’s death, Ash enlists Hazel to uncover the truth behind the young man’s death. At first suspicious and later determined, Hazel knows her young career lies in the balance if she pursues the thread of a case Ash has handed her.

By showing Cardy’s knowledge of his impending death, even before he winds up a cell, Bannister dangles a provocative hook that will have readers turning pages as Hazel and Ash figure out why Cardy had to die.

The growing strength of friendship between Hazel and Ash leads to the novel’s unexpected ending, when it seems no one can be trusted, and their lives hang in the balance.

Bannister’s dry wit is on show here. Nicely nuanced characters and a fair amount of tension and tension will have readers hoping this is not the last appearance of this unlikely duo.