By J. A. Jance

Avon August, 1997
ISBN: 0-380-97395-2 $23.00

Setting: Bisbee, Arizona and the Southwest desert

Reviewed by Cherie Jung (8/97)

Fans of J. A. Jance will know that this is the fifth book in the Joanna Brady series. Jance also writes the famous J. P. Beaumont series which is set in Seattle. Personally, I have never read a Jance book that I didn't like, but I will admit that I prefer the Beaumont series. That may be because Jance brings her locations to life and I've never been a desert person. Too hot and dry for me. I'm a Seattlite through and through.

In admitting my bias towards Jance's writings, I should probably also admit that I think she is such an outstanding storyteller that I would read cereal box panels if she were writing them. (Same goes for my love of Ann Rule's writing!)

For those unfamiliar with this series, Joanna brady is the Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona. She is a strong-willed woman with a equally strong sense of justice. Her husband, a police officer, was murdered. Trying to solve his murder was what got her into detecting and the job of sheriff. She has a young daughter, Jenny and two dogs, Sadie and Tigger. She is a hard-working, single parent...on her own, as they say.

A possible runaway teenager case, involving a local girl, turns ugly when her body is found in Skeleton Canyon. Brianna O'Brien had set out with the intention of a lovers tryst with her boyfriend, Ignacio Ybarra. Now her parents suspect the boy of their daughters death, but perhaps their opinions are colored by bigotry. They did not condone their daughter's choice of a Mexican boyfriend. In fact, they insisted she didn't even have a boyfriend until Katherine O'Brien discovered the birth control pills tucked away in her daughter's bathroom vanity while Sheriff Brady and Detective Ernie Carpenter were searching the room for clues to Brianna's disappearance.

Lies, deceit, and a web of crime await you in this novel.

Since this is part of a series, you may be reluctant to start reading the books out of sequence. Unlike the J.P. Beaumont series (which I strongly recommend you read in order of publication, due to the vast character development changes Beaumont experiences...hint: you won't like him if you start with a recent book and then go to the earlier books!), this book stands alone. You can start with SKELETON CANYON now and then go back to the others.


There are also thirteen books in the J.P. Beaumont (Seattle cop) series and HOUR OF THE HUNTER, which is a non-series book, set in the Southwest.

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