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By J. A. Jance

Touchstone Books, December, 2007 ($25.95)
ISBN-10: 1416537538
ISBN-13: 978-1416537533

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Ali Reynolds is a former television anchorwoman who was fired for being "too old" (at 45 years? -- Yikes!). Her cheating, soon-to-be ex, husband was murdered. She returned to her hometown in Arizona from Los Angeles after the firing, and remains there as she begins to put her life back together.

An invitation to tea, a diary, and a wayward teenager mix with sexual predators, abuse, and murder...

HAND OF EVIL is the third installment in the Ali Reynolds series. Previous books were EDGE OF EVIL and WEB OF EVIL.

Although I've read almost everything else Jance has written, this is the first Reynolds book I've read. (I'm a die-hard Beaumont fan!) I skipped the first two in this series because of the Southwest setting.

Fans of this series will probably enjoy it. I'm not sure that HAND OF EVIL will attract many new readers to the Jance fan club, if this book is where they start. I recommend that new readers begin with the first book in the series and read them in order of publication to get a better feel for the character. The author's characters are never static. They develop over time. That's one reason it's important to read books written by Jance in chronological order.

I have only two quibbles with this book. The first is a personal bias. I don't like Arizona very much (and yes, I've been there). The second is that at times, the author (or the writing) comes across as a bit preachy. However, I do applaud the author for tackling tough subjects like child abuse.

That said, I would still read anything Jance writes because I'm fascinated by the way she tells the story. Some efforts are more successful than others, but in the long run, no one out does Jance when it comes to telling a compelling, suspenseful tale.

While I can't imagine that there are many people who haven't read a J. A. Jance book, just for the record, she is the author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, and a three-book thriller series featuring the Walker family.

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