Book Review: Jelly Bryce: FBI Odyssey/The Man in the Mirror (Conti, 2015/2016)

Firearms trainer Mike Conti has written a three-book fictionalized history of the life of famous FBI agent and gunfighter Jelly Bryce. “The Legend Begins” was book 1 of that series (reviewed previously), which continues in FBI Odyssey (book 2) and The Man In the Mirror (book 3)

Bryce was an influential figure in the history of shooting training. His techniques became the core of FBI firearms training, which were taught to law enforcement officers for more than 40 years. I wrote about the 1940’s FBI firearms qualification course of fire in this Historical Handgun class after action report.

Bryce had exceptional vision and dry fired constantly, giving him the ability to hip shoot and point shoot with accuracy and speed far better than an average-sighted person less motivated to practice and dry fire as much as Bryce did.

Book 2 (FBI Odyssey) focuses on Bryce’s time in the FBI. Book 3 (The Man in the Mirror) follows FBI Special Agent Delf “Jelly” Bryce through the tumultuous war years from 1941 until his death in 1974.

Like book 1, books 2 and 3 tell the story of Bryce’s life as a fictionalized story, written like a novel. J. Edgar Hoover and many other famous FBI figures, as well as Hoover’s rival “Wild Bill” Donovan have their own stories and life histories woven into the plot.

Author Conti, a law enforcement officer and firearms trainer, gets the details right, painting a vivid picture of the sights, sounds and smells of Bryce’s era. The gun fights and physical violence are described realistically, putting the reader in the middle of the action. The books are a great mix of history and character and action and drama, much like the historical action novels written by “gun guy” Stephen Hunter.

Highly recommended for students of firearms training history, FBI history, US history of the 40’s and 50’s, and anybody that likes a well written tale.