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Primrose Switchback [Hardcover]

Jo Bannister
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1999
Shad couldn't be guilty of murder . . . could he?

Rosie Holland, agony aunt for the Skipley Chronicle, speeds to the aid of a woman supposedly held at knifepoint - only to discover the whole thing is a hoax organised by the makers of a TV programme.

Merely annoyed at first, Rosie becomes worried when her gardener, Shad, is discovered unconscious and bleeding near the dead body of one of the programme's researchers. Rosie finds it impossible to believe that Shad could have been involved and she vows to discover the truth. But as she delves deeper into the events surrounding the night of the murder, she realises that in this bizarre set-up of twisted humour and warped ambition, nothing is as it seems.

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Last seen in The Primrose Convention (1998), former pathologist turned advice columnist (or "agony aunt," as the British say) Rosie Hollander returns in this delightful second installment. After writing a column about "tough love" to help a reader cope with her drug-addicted son, Rosie receives a call from the woman who begs for help as the son is holding her at knifepoint and demanding to see the person responsible for the "tough" strategy. Rosie rushes off to help, only to find herself the victim of a hoax arranged by a local TV show. Then one of the show's researchers is killed, and Rosie's psychic friend Shad confesses to the crime. Rosie doesn't buy it and decides to investigate, which takes her and her reluctant sidekick, Arthur Prufrock, on a very topsy-turvy chase. This series is distinguished by Bannister's ability to combine cozy and hard-boiled elements, masterfully mixing light and dark to produce absorbing and entertaining mysteries. Bannister is also the author of the excellent Castlemere series of police procedurals. Stuart Miller

About the Author

Jo Bannister lives in Northern Ireland, where she worked as a journalist and editor on local newspapers.Since giving up the day job, her books have been shortlisted for a number of awards.Most of her spare time is spent with her horse and dog, or clambering over archaeological sites.She is currently working on a new series of psychological crime/thrillers.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Primrose Switchback Sept. 6 2000
By tregatt
Format:Hardcover
This is a really good series that is begging for better publicity. One small problem may be that it is currently being touted as a "cozy" series along the lines of a Miss Marple mystery, but it isn't "cozy" at all, and has a rather gritty and hard-boiled feel to the whole thing.
The series features Rosie Holland, an ex- pathologist and current agony aunt for the Skipley Chronicle. She's famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) for her 'shoot-from-the-hip" advice. This novel opens with the television show "You've Been Had" deciding to ambush Rosie with a fake crisis. "You've Been Had" is a show that manufactures a crisis, gives you a mini heart attack and then passes the whole affair off as a joke. Of course Rosie doesn't see the 'joke' and slugs the host of the programme while the cameras are rolling. The next thing to hit Rosie however is not news that the programme is suing Rosie for assault but that Shad Lewis, Rosie' s gardener, has been found concussed and bleeding next to a body of a young woman-- a researcher for that same infamous show.
At first Rosie is merely concerned for Shad's physical welfare, but then it begins to look as if he could have committed the crime. Shad is a very fragile young man with the unhappy gift of being able to psychically sense pain, fear and death; he has also suffered a nervous breakdown becasue of his'gift'. And being set up by such a show as "You've Been Had" is exactly the sort of thing that could just send him over the edge completely into madness and murder. And when it looks as if he is coming apart at the seams mentally, Rosie with the help of retired schoolteacher Alfred Prufrock tries to discover what really happened, esp since in spite of the evidence, she instinctively feels that Shad is innocent.
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Format:Hardcover
I loved THE PRIMROSE CONVENTION, the first book in the series, but was disappointed by SWITCHBACK. CONVENTION featured a wonderful ensemble of distinctive, endearing characters, teaming up to locate a missing man. The relationships among these characters were charming and unique. In SWITCHBACK, the main characters are fairly isolated from each-other for most of the book. The story centers around one of them, who is subjected to enormous suffering, partially caused (unintentionally) by another of the formerly-likeable characters. The unremittingly bleak tone is a misstep in my opinion; it didn't work for me. And the qualities that made CONVENTION special are mostly absent from SWITCHBACK. I don't object to a somber book, but this one felt "off." CONVENTION wasn't sappy-sweet, but it did strike a hopeful tone, and SWITCHBACK's tone was... hopeless.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Primrose Switchback Sept. 6 2000
By tregatt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a really good series that is begging for better publicity. One small problem may be that it is currently being touted as a "cozy" series along the lines of a Miss Marple mystery, but it isn't "cozy" at all, and has a rather gritty and hard-boiled feel to the whole thing.
The series features Rosie Holland, an ex- pathologist and current agony aunt for the Skipley Chronicle. She's famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) for her 'shoot-from-the-hip" advice. This novel opens with the television show "You've Been Had" deciding to ambush Rosie with a fake crisis. "You've Been Had" is a show that manufactures a crisis, gives you a mini heart attack and then passes the whole affair off as a joke. Of course Rosie doesn't see the 'joke' and slugs the host of the programme while the cameras are rolling. The next thing to hit Rosie however is not news that the programme is suing Rosie for assault but that Shad Lewis, Rosie' s gardener, has been found concussed and bleeding next to a body of a young woman-- a researcher for that same infamous show.
At first Rosie is merely concerned for Shad's physical welfare, but then it begins to look as if he could have committed the crime. Shad is a very fragile young man with the unhappy gift of being able to psychically sense pain, fear and death; he has also suffered a nervous breakdown becasue of his'gift'. And being set up by such a show as "You've Been Had" is exactly the sort of thing that could just send him over the edge completely into madness and murder. And when it looks as if he is coming apart at the seams mentally, Rosie with the help of retired schoolteacher Alfred Prufrock tries to discover what really happened, esp since in spite of the evidence, she instinctively feels that Shad is innocent.
Rosie may not be everyone's cup of tea. She's loud, brash and domineering, but she's utterly charming as well. This mystery was alot more tautly written, and I enjoyed it alot more than the first, "The Primrose Convention". I think that this series deserves alot more consideration than it is currently getting, and recommend it as an enjoyable read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book March 24 2014
By Pine Street Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am so sorry that Jo Bannister only wrote 2 books for these characters. This second book only makes me want to read more. Definitely less gritty, but no less serious than the Castlemere and Brodie Farrell series'. The characters here are sometimes foolish and impulsive but always interesting and caring. Wish Ms Bannister would pick up Rosie Holland and company once (or twice) more.
4.0 out of 5 stars Caution--spoiler included June 8 2009
By Linda S. Myers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Primrose Switchback takes place several months after The Primrose Convention. It features the same basic cast of characters--Rosie, the advice colunmnist; Alex, her beautiful, organized PA; Matt, the publisher; Ben Sale, the editor of the Skipley Chronicle; Arthur Prufrock, the retired school teacher; and Shad Lucas, the conflicted young psychic. Rosie is targeted by a British "candid camera" television show, luring her to what she thinks is a hostage situation based on her advising use of tough love; on camera, she slugs the host when she realizes she had been tricked. Soon thereafter Shad finds the murdered body of Jackie Pickering, a researcher for the show; he is hit on the head and does not remember who or what he saw. Rosie immediately starts investigating the murder, while the police send Shad to a prominent psychiatrist who specializes in helping patients recover memories. Rosie concludes that Jackie was quietly working on an expose program to move herself into producer, but the only person who might know exactly what Jackie was doing was her college roommate. When Rosie meets Debbie's parents, she finds that Debbie had been treated by a psychiatrist who planted false memories of sexual abuse by her father. At that point, the storyline shifts from Rosie's identification of the murderer (Dr.Cunningham, who had to kill Jackie to prevent her expose of his malpractice) to saving Shad from him. Too late, Shad has received electroshock treatment; the book ends with the extent of damage to Shad not clear.

Narration switches from character to character, seldom with more than two together at once, which makes the storyline less engaging than The Primrose Convention. The characters are well developed, quirky enough to be human; the writing has an enjoyable humor. I would enjoy more Rosie Holland novels.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing follow-up to the wonderful series debut Dec 8 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved THE PRIMROSE CONVENTION, the first book in the series, but was disappointed by SWITCHBACK. CONVENTION featured a wonderful ensemble of distinctive, endearing characters, teaming up to locate a missing man. The relationships among these characters were charming and unique. In SWITCHBACK, the main characters are fairly isolated from each-other for most of the book. The story centers around one of them, who is subjected to enormous suffering, partially caused (unintentionally) by another of the formerly-likeable characters. The unremittingly bleak tone is a misstep in my opinion; it didn't work for me. And the qualities that made CONVENTION special are mostly absent from SWITCHBACK. I don't object to a somber book, but this one felt "off." CONVENTION wasn't sappy-sweet, but it did strike a hopeful tone, and SWITCHBACK's tone was... hopeless.
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