A while back, I did a review of my old friend Mike Conti’s first historical novel, focused on the early years of early 20th Century gunfighter Jelly Bryce, who started out as a city cop in Oklahoma and moved on to J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI.  Now comes the second book in Mike’s trilogy, “Jelly Bryce: FBI Oddyssey.” Jelly Bryce by Mike Conti

A long-time Massachusetts state trooper, and still a top-ranked firearms instructor in his retirement, Conti knows his stuff and effectively brings Bryce back to life.  Mike has deeply studied his subject. Hoover did indeed bring gunfighters on board when he realized accountants and lawyers with guns weren’t up to the challenges posed by ultra-violent criminals like John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Bonnie (Parker) and Clyde (Barrow).  One such “lateral transfer,” Charles Winstead, was the man who killed Dillinger.

One particular thorn in Hoover’s side was Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll.  Mike tells me that some folks believe Bryce might have been sent after Coll.  Conti himself doubts that, as I do: Bryce isn’t known to have spent a lot of time in Coll’s northeastern bailiwick, and the timing isn’t quite right.  However, Mike thought it ought to be addressed.  I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say that the manner in which Mike wrote that element into this book could be used to teach creative writing.

The new book closes with Hoover and Bryce still in the honeymoon phase. Alas, history shows that when an individual agent got more press than J. Edgar himself, the big boss was not pleased.  Melvin Purvis was one example, and Bryce was fated to be another…but that, I expect, will have to wait for the final volume of Conti’s trilogy.

For now, I have to say I enjoyed heck out of “Jelly Bryce: FBI Odyssey” by Mike Conti, and I suspect you will, too. It’s available on Amazon.


  1. Bryce may have gotten more press than J. Edgar, but probably didn’t look as good as his boss in lacy black lingerie and skimpy ballerina outfits. J. Edgar did get the first S&W .357 Magnum made though, with 3 1/2″ barrel.

  2. The new book closes with Hoover and Bryce still in the honeymoon phase.

    Hmmm. Since Hoover was a cross dressing homosexual that is a pretty funny line Mas. Oh and sooooo very NOT pc….

    Today the FBI has become the toadies of aa communist president and his apostle AG’s. Sad fate for an agency I grew up respecting. Watching Efrem Zimbalist Jr on Sunday nites.

  3. I understand that Elliot Ness applied to the FBI but was turned down by J. Hoover himself because Ness got a lot of publicity. Ness has been in the news lately because in his estate was a 50 share bond that is now worth 1.1 million $.
    I once had the opportunity to ask G. Gordon Liddy if Hoover was a homosexual and he emphatically said no. It was just a smear campaign by the liberals. If pictures exist let’s see the link.

  4. Oh boy, the good old FBI days when the male agents were real men–except J. Edgar Hoover. Conti’s book does sound intriguing and eventually I hope to get a copy through the local library.

  5. There were long-standing rumors about Hoover and Clyde Tolson, but I’ve never seen any proof. In 2015, who gives a damn anyway? I hate to quote Hillary Clinton but “At this point, what does it matter?”

  6. Unsupported rumours J Edgar Hoover aside, the heroes name is Jelly? Well I guess with a name like that you just can’t afford to be anything other than a hero. 🙂

  7. Gotta agree with Mas, guys. Lot of rumors, no definitive proof. Hoover made a lot of political enemies (mostly of the liberal/progressive persuasion). The MO of these types is to denigrate, attack, and marginalize by rumor and half-truths, especially after the passing of the target of their hatred, and them not being able to defend themselves.

    There is such a thing as being “married to the job”. I knew such a man, a Homicide Captain on my department who was winding up his career as I was beginning mine. He had an international reputation as an interrogator and was intimately involved in, arguably, the most famous/ infamous murder investigation of our times. To my knowledge, he was never married. He lived in a hotel room across the street from police headquarters, spending 12-16 hours, seven days a week, in his office. Don’t recall anyone accusing him of being homosexual. He didn’t have time to spare from his first love for any other relationships.

  8. Fruitbat, there’s an interesting story behind Jelly Bryce’s nickname. He dressed meticulously when he worked in plainclothes; in the blog entry, notice what he’s wearing on the cover of Mike Conti’s new book. 3 piece suit. The photo comes from a LIFE magazine story on him in the ’40s.

    Long before that, he was in a shootout where he killed a gunman. The dying man looked up at him and said, “I can’t believe I was killed by a jellybean like you.” Back in that day, “Jellybean” was a derogatory term for someone who dressed well, like “Beau Brummel” was in times before.

    Brother officers in Oklahoma teased Delf Bryce about it, and he took the lemons and made lemonade, adopting that “Jelly” nickname as his own.

  9. Mas – Thanks for the info. It had crossed my mind that Mr Bryce had actually been christen “Jelly.” But it’s an interesting story and now my knowledge of historical US slang has been slightly increased as well.

    Hmmm . . . totally OT I know, but I once knew a chap who was nicknamed “Cat.” Not because he was lithe and graceful, but because he’d once jumped out of a first floor window and landed on his feet.

    That’s a British first floor window of course. 🙂

  10. Interesting that back in the old days, liberals would denigrate someone they don’t like by saying he’s homosexual. Nowadays, liberals accuse a guy they want to disparage by claiming he is homophobic. How times have changed!

  11. I agree with Dennis, Fruitbat and Mas about Hoover. I do think, though, that Hoover had a bit of the Gestapo in him.

    One thing about “Mad Dog” Coll is he was gunned down in 1932 (not 1934 as Conti presents) when Bryce was still in OCPD. And as for hearing DiMaggio in 1934, DiMaggio was still in the minor leagues; he didn’t make the Yankees until 1936.

    I suspect Conti writes much like Louis L’Amour did, wrapping a mix of fiction and facts into an intriguing story.

    If it weren’t for meds I’m on, I’d have finished it in two days, tops, but it’s taking a bit longer… 🙁

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