A woman is cruelly cut down in a remote corner of Arizona, killed on her nineteenth wedding anniversary by a drunk motorist.? A year later, the driver himself dies badly, and all suspicions point to the slain woman's still-grieving husband as his murderer. But the truth is rarely black and white in the long Southwestern shadows, and one law officer is not rushing to condemn the tragic widower so quickly: Joanna Brady, Sheriff of Cochise County. Brady's convictions, however, are leading her on a twisted trail through inhospitable country—and setting her on a path that will bring her face-to-face with cold, calculating death in the high, lonely desert.
Cochise County, Ariz., sheriff Joanna Brady (Shoot/Don't Shoot) has her newly elected hands full in this fourth adventure. When veterinarian Amos Buckwalter is murdered by arson, deputies immediately suspect Hal Morgan, whose wife, Bonnie, was recently killed by a drunken Buckwalter in a car accident. Morgan, himself an ex-cop, had been picketing Buckwalter's animal hospital, handing out Mothers Against Drunk Driving literature just before the vet's body was found in a burning barn. Joanna doubts his guilt because she understands his grief, her own husband having been murdered not so long ago. Besides, the widow Buckwalter is strangely stoic, even getting a makeover and playing golf on the day after her husband's death. While Joanna locks horns with experienced detectives on the case, she must cope with her rebellious nine-year-old daughter, Jenny, a bossy mother, budget-cutting county supervisors and her aching loneliness. The unlikely sheriff (her husband had run for the office, and she entered the campaign only after his death) is an engaging heroine, vulnerable but determined to meet the challenges in her personal and public life. Jance skillfully ties the mystery to the southeastern Arizona landscape, its historic mining towns and their modern problems. 75,000 first printing; author tour.