Ben Abbott

Created by Justin Scott
Pseudonyms include Paul Garrison, J.S. Blazer

Bill Bryson was telling us something about small town America at the start of The Lost Continent when he wrote “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.”

Justin Scott, in placing his BEN ABBOTT P.I. series in Newbury, Conneticutt, is probably trying to tell us something about small town America — it’s just that I’m not sure what it is.

It’s a sweet place, like Bedford Falls in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Our hero, for example, is introduced to us in Frost Line (1997), the third in the series, rescuing a actual cat up from an actual tree. It’s friendly in that “I’ve known you for five generations” kind of way and the town folk are, well, town folk. The place is something of a patch work quilt. It’s no surprise that the somewhat conventional murder mystery plots fit together in neat little pieces as well. Wrong doing is dealt with, order is restored, the good guys are good and the bad guy’s don’t belong.

In fairness though, I must add that this is a series private eye and I guess if you’re already hooked you’ll love it. And despite the small town trappings, this guy Ben’s been around. Once upon a time, Ben (actually Benjamin Abbot III) was an investigator for U.S. Naval Intelligence and then a Wall Street bond trader who, alas, got caught bending the rules a little too much, and ended up serving time for insider dealing, Upon his release he ended up selling real estate in Newbury, before events in his debut, Hardscape (1994) lead to his new career as a private eye. The writing is very good although people tell me Scott has done even better work (notably Widow of Desire, about the Russian fur trade/spy/thriller).

Just to be neighbourly, I direct you to comments on the cover of Frost Line, from such notables as Lawrence Block (“…is the best book in a series that started strong and keeps getting better”) and Jeffery Deaver (“brilliant–sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching insights into small town New England life”). No slouches Block and Deaver. Therefore, if you feel so inclined, please take no notice of me whatsoever…


Besides the Ben Abbott series, Justin Scott  has written more than thirty thrillers, historicals, and mystery novels, with so many books set at sea that some (probably publicists) have tagged him “the Dick Francis of yachting.” Under the pen name of Paul Garrison, he’s several novels based on Robert Ludlum’s Paul Janson character, including The Janson Command and The Janson Option, and under his own name he’s collaborated with Clive Cussler on the bestselling Isaac Bell series, about a turn-of-the-century private eye working for a national detective agency. Abbott has bee nominated twice for the Edgar Allan Poe Award by the Mystery Writers of America. He currently lives in Connecticut with his wife, filmmaker Amber Edwards.


Respectfully submitted by Peter Walker, adapted from a review in Crime Time (and Peter wants everyone to know, by the way, that he’s available for lucrative assignments in the world of crime writing and criticism.

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