In the night-still canyons of the Arizona desert, a girl is on the run. Alone but for her beloved red-tailed hawk, she flees from the dark shadows of her young life, the horror she has witnessed…and the terror that now stalks her.
New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance returns with her eighth novel in the highly acclaimed Joanna Brady mystery series. Set against the backdrop of the modern west, this gripping tale finds Sheriff Brady juggling a precarious overload in both her personal and professional lives. About to be married, Joanna's facing a daughter turning twelve and going on twenty, a meddlesome mother micro-managing her wedding, and new in-laws arriving any day. The sudden death of her much-loved neighbor and handyman, Clayton Rhodes, creates further turmoil, leaving Joanna shocked, saddened, and the target of Clayton's irate and irrational daughter, who accuses the Sheriff's Department of covering up a possible murder.
But amidst the uproar, the report of a homicide at Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains quickly captures Joanna's full attention. An Indian woman has been found shot to death--a woman recently released from prision after serving time for the manslaughter killing of her husband. She is the mother of a missing fifteen-year-old, Lucy Ridder.
The death at first appears to be a case of domestic rage finally exploding'and a troubled teen runaway may be a victim, or a cold-blooded killer. Yet as Joanna deals with the long-standing troubles of Clayton Rhodes' family and digs deeper into the mysterious life of Lucy and her family, she discovers that investigating family hostilities is leading her down a twisted trail of hatred, greed, and far-reaching consequences--and into a dangerous world where violence is the first response and long buried secrets are a reason to kill…or die.
Once again, J.A. Jance delivers a gritty, deftly written thriller that unfolds on a vivid landscape of raw beauty and unrelenting danger. And, as always, Sheriff Joanna Brady brings the setting to life with the sensitivity, spirit, and intense passion for justice that makes Jance novels ring with authenticity.
Southwestern mysteries continue to grow in popularity, with Jance's series, set in southern Arizona, one of the strongest entries in the subgenre. The new novel to feature Sheriff Joanna Brady opens at the entrance to a desert canyon called the Cochise Stronghold, where Sandra Ridder, who is part Apache, is trying to retrieve an item she buried eight years ago, before going to prison for killing her husband. The next day hikers find her corpse, while Sandra's 15-year-old daughter, Lucinda, and the girl's pet red-tailed hawk go missing. Could Lucinda, who seems to be a troubled loner, have killed her mother as revenge for her father's murder? Joanna starts to investigate shortly before she's to be married. Then Clayton Rhodes, the neighbor who helps feed Joanna's animals, dies suddenly, and unexpectedly bequeaths his ranch to her. Clayton's estranged daughter feels she should have inherited the property. Unreasonably and viciously, she blames Joanna for exerting undue influence over her father. The tangled threads of Joanna's personal life come close to overwhelming her professional one, and she has to exercise all of her time management skills to keep the murder inquiry on track. Her fianc , Butch Dixon, comes off as way too perfect to be human, but his parents, in an amusing touch, are seriously dysfunctional. Sometimes the dialogue is stiff, but generally this is a solid installment in a worthy series. The Arizona desert, as usual in Jance's mysteries, plays an unforgettable part in this atmospheric tale. Mystery Guild dual main selection.