Here are some published reviews of my books, “Justice Beyond Law,” “Justice without Mercy” and “Shades of Justice.” Visit the readers page to see what folks who have read my books think!

Reading Corner | Author’s third book boasts good writing but lots of violence

Books one and two of Pawleys Island author and retired CIA agent Barry Kelly’s good-guy-bad-guy series caught me in their snare.

I’m now a fan of his writing and of his hero Jack Brandon and sidekick wonder dog, Shadow. The animal is part Lassie, part Rin Tin Tin and part Wonderdog with a dash of his own breed’s (Bouvier) special talents tossed in.

I’ve come to enjoy the freedom from reality, a utopia of sorts, where the good guys have all the resources (money, material, training and skills) that they need to outfox the bad guys.

I love Kelly’s writing: It’s crisp, has clear style, good plotting and pacing. His place descriptions are wonderful. Of course it helps the settings include some of my favorite places in the world – Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., metro area and the Grand Strand. The details are spot on and integral at many times to the unfolding of the plot. I’ve even been willing to accept a certain amount of vigilantism in the books – heroes step outside the law to bring the bad guys to justice – even when justice involves shootings.

The third book, “Shades of Justice,” takes on the very topical and important issue of human trafficking – people who brazenly steal young women from the streets and transport them to other countries to make them sex slaves.

By the end of this novel, the hero, Jack has also shown his respect for women by rescuing them but also by empowering female members of his team with training in fighting and technology. Even more telling is the way he treats his own wife – a woman who is his intellectual equal and partner in action – with love and respect.

However, this third book descends so far into violent vigilantism and outside of the law justice, it is simply too violent for me.

“Shades of Justice” has so much shoot ‘em up by the “good guys” that several times I wondered if I was in the middle of a violent video game. Kelly himself obviously felt the burden of this violence and his characters justify themselves more than once in philosophical conversations that offer the rationale for this violence.

“Leave no witnesses” seems to be the refrain in “Shades of Justice.” It was only Kelly’s good writing that kept me reading on in spite of the awful acts his good guys commit.

Once a reader accepts Kelly’s alternative world where Jack, wife Kathy and the others operate with unlimited monetary resources and wicked good physical, mental and technological skills, I think they would accept a few plot manipulations to allow for the rule of law and fewer bodies strewn about by the “good guys.” I’m hoping for more of that sort of thinking in his next work and look forward to reading it, because the man writes well.

If you have not read Kelly’s work before, start with his first two books: “Justice Beyond Law” and “Justice Without Mercy.” Read “Shades of Justice” with my warning – good writing but extreme violence ahead.

Kelly, who spent two years of his CIA career serving the Reagan administration in the White House as an adviser, lives in Pawleys Island with his wife and their two dogs.

According to a news release from Prose Press, Kelly is available for Skype interviews with book clubs and other organizations. Visit for more information.

All three of the authors books are available in print or as ebooks from Amazon or by contacting the author. Email

Reading Corner | ‘Justice Beyond Law’ a fast-paced thriller with good writing, plot, characters

Editor’s note: This is a guest review written by freelance writer Joan Leotta.

Move over Batman: Jack Brandon, former cop and Marine and millionaire does not need a utility belt or a special car. With his superb martial arts skills and two ex-CIA female sidekicks, Kathy and Anita, he battles today’s super criminals – ex-KGB agents working with al-Qaida.

Having accepted the basic premise of the hero’s massive skill set and the tremendous abilities of his sidekicks, plus a plethora of great connections, amazing family background story and money, the book captivates readers with a well-structured plot, terse writing and fast-paced action. Author Barry Kelly’s scenic descriptions in this, his first novel, are right on the mark.

I was especially pleased to see his loving detail of Pittsburgh (my hometown) and Washington, D.C., (where I lived for 35 years) and the places along Route 30 that connect the two. More exotic locales such as Katmandu receive equally detailed treatment. Does the hero find romance? Yes, but without slowing the action. Kelly uses every scene to advance the action and plot.

The trail of dead bodies left as our heroes fight for justice without the structure of CIA rules stretches across several continents in the course of the action; the totals are worthy of an opera.

But our heroes never enjoy the killing, even when the person killed is a truly evil villain. It is good to know that our people still value life, even the lives of enemies.

Kelly’s own CIA background lends credence to the plot elements and the tantalizing detail of hero and villain activity. Despite the disclaimer by the CIA prominently displayed on the back of the book, I could not help but wonder – how much of this was real or could really happen?

Both fictional hero Jack Brandon and real-life retired CIA officer Kelly own Bouvier des Flandres dogs, a breed with which I was not familiar but now adore. What’s not to love? The large black dog, Shadow, of the novel is big as a bear, adores its owner and saves lives.

If you like excitement and action wrapped in good writing, interesting, likeable main characters and excellent plotting, “Justice Beyond Law” is for you. The ending is satisfying, completing the action of this book while setting up a sequel that I can’t wait to read.

About the author

Barry Kelly served in the CIA for more than 21 years, during which he spent time in Southeast Asia, Korea and Vietnam, among other locations. He also served as a personal assistant to President Reagen for two years in the late 1980s. His time in the service resulted in several awards and accolades, including the Certificate of Merit with Distinction, the Intelligence Medal of Merit, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.

Kelly currently lives in Pawleys Island with his wife and their three dogs. The sequel to “Justice Beyond Law,” “Justice Without Mercy,” was published at the end of June. Both books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as paperbacks and as ebooks. Copies are also available at Applewood House of Pancakes in Pawleys Island and Harborwalk Books in Georgetown.

Reading Corner | Action continues in dramatic thriller sequel ‘Justice without Mercy’

This book is a sequel to “Justice Beyond Law” where Kelly first introduced us to Jack Brandon, ex-Pittsburgh cop and Marine, and his group of ex-CIA companions who are helping to keep Americans safe.

This spy-anti-terrorist adventure picks up where the first left off, but Kelly skillfully fills readers in on background so that if you have not read the first book, you can still enjoy the second without missing a beat.

The action does not miss a beat, either. We are treated to wonderful scenes of Pittsburgh, the area just outside of Washington, D.C., and plenty of action.

While in the previous book readers were shown the intricacies of terrorist operations and how brave, dedicated men and women can defeat them, this book spreads the evil out before us in a much scarier disguise – our own citizens turned against us – American converts to Jihad, with a dash of a serial killer thrown in.

Kelly’s intricate, fast-paced plot moves smoothly along, skipping only when there is an occasional point-of-view slip. Otherwise the writing is great; the read exciting and full of action.

There is so much action that when I read it late at night, I had the feeling that I should turn it off instead of simply put it down. I fully expect to see a movie deal on this series sometime soon.

Kelly knows his action. A former CIA officer, he tells us that the book was reviewed by the CIA to ensure that there is no disclosure of classified information and assures us that “While this book is fiction, it could be true. The real world of intelligence operatives is stranger than fiction. Were we permitted to write about real world intelligence activities, no one would believe the tales.”

Besides being available online, you can purchase this book at Litchfield Books in Pawleys Island or Harborwalk Books in Georgetown.

Here is a story about me in The Sun News, a daily newspaper in South Carolina

8 responses to “Reviews

  1. Barry, I just finished your second book, Justice Without Mercy. It was every bit as good as your first book. Now that you are on the treadmill, when can we expect the third? These books are readable, it is too easy to stay up late and finish them in one complete sitting. I very much look forward to your next book. John Nugent

  2. John, Thanks for your kind comments. I’m working (thinking about) the plot for the third Justice novel. It takes me about a year from start to publish. In the meantime, if your memory is growing faulty, you could read the first novel again.

  3. Dear Barry: You may be right about my memory. Things that happened what seems like just yesterday, appear to be new today. Probably the only benefit of getting older. John

  4. Susan T. Goldberg


    We think your book was a “page-turner” It got you quickly and
    held you tight.

    Well, well done.

    Book 3?


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