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Reviewed by Darryl Greer for Readers' Favorite
Jelly Bryce — The Man In The Mirror is the final installment in Mike Conti’s Jelly Bryce trilogy and, if you have read the first two, missing out on this one would be like reading a murder mystery and not bothering to read the final chapter to find out whodunit. For the uninitiated, Jelly Bryce was a legendary lawman who carved out a career, firstly in the Oklahoma City Police Department then with the FBI. His ability as a quick draw shooter, as well as his impressive investigative skills, made him one of the most memorable law enforcers of his era. But even legends have a private life and Jelly’s was just as fascinating as his day job. He was closely acquainted with his FBI boss, J. Edgar Hoover, not a person easy to get close to. This helped to provide him with incredible insight into the innermost workings of American society at every level; it would be surprising if much of what he gleaned were not taken with him to the grave. Jelly served his country throughout the most interesting periods of the twentieth century: The Great Depression, World War II, the Soviet threat, the rise of Communism, the McCarthy era and the creation of the CIA. Jelly Bryce — The Man In The Mirror, like the earlier novels in the trilogy, reads like a biography although it is really historical fiction.
Mike Conti, a former lawman himself, has undertaken research of mammoth proportions to write this trilogy, and at times it reads like a history lesson. This latest in the series contains strands of factual material seamlessly woven into the fabric of the fictional tale to produce a life tapestry that is both fascinating and entertaining. At times I thought there was a little too much of Jelly’s personal life which made the story drag somewhat, but that said, it does enable the reader to understand just what made the man tick. Jelly wasn’t just a sharp shooter; he was a complex, multi-layered character, possessing an almost superhuman ability with a gun, but having inner conflicts that would occasionally float to the surface. This book, like the earlier ones in the series, is exceptionally well written, hard to put down, and, as a bonus you’ll come away with an in-depth knowledge of the life and times of one of the most famous U.S. lawmen of the 20th century.