JA Jance’s flair for murder and mayhem continues to flourish when it comes to the Joanna Brady series. This series is like peeling an onion: so many layers to delve into, some sweet, some not so, but all are complicated. There are a lot of real life scenarios which Joanna copes and illustrates how complicated her life is when it comes to parenthood, being a daughter, a wife, and a sheriff. The characters continue to grow stronger and more complex with each novel in this series. In this novel, the focus is on Jenny, Joanna, and Joanna’s mother (Eleanor) in how their decisions affect their relationships, and how to resolve family issues (old and new). Each of these women is strong-minded, strong-willed, and very similar in nature (like mother like daughter).
Jenny is developing as a teenager and her share of mistakes illustrate how problematical these years are (especially when it comes to multimedia decisions). She is the quintessential teenager involved in angst, and, like her mother, mayhem and murder follow. Meanwhile, Joanna discovers how multifaceted her father’s life was when she finally reads his journals. Joanna is further realizing how living in a small town does have its’ disadvantages and how they impacted her mother after D.H. Lathrop’s death. Secrets kept for decades still worm their way out in this story. Also, Joanna is able to utilize her mother to help resolve some issues thus laying ghosts from the past to rest. All in all, parenting (like murder) boils down to the “judgment call.” I’m already waiting for the next Joanna Brady novel with open arms.
New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance brings back acclaimed sheriff Joanna Brady in an exciting and twisting mystery set against the beauty and isolation of the Arizona desert
When Joanna Brady's daughter, Jenny, stumbles across the body of her high school principal, Debra Highsmith, in the desert, the Cochise County sheriff's personal and professional worlds collide, forcing her to tread the difficult middle ground between being an officer of the law and a mother. While investigating murders has always meant discovering unpleasant facts and disquieting truths, the experienced Joanna isn't prepared for the knowledge she's about to uncover. Though she's tried to protect her children from the dangers of the grown-up world, the search for justice leads straight to her own door and forces her to face the possibility that her beloved daughter may be less perfect than she seems—especially when a photo from the crime scene ends up on Facebook. A photo only one person close to the crime scene could have taken.
The gruesome picture is just the tip of the iceberg. Even a small, close-knit town like Bisbee has its secrets. Navigating her way through the unfamiliar world of social media, Joanna discovers shocking—and incriminating—information. The details build, from a hushed-up suspension, to a group of teenagers with a grudge against the late Ms. Highsmith, to a hateful video calling for the principal's death. The video evidence points to one particular privileged boy, who's already lawyered up thanks to his father, a well-to-do doctor determined to protect his son's reputation. Yet the deeper Joanna digs, the more complications she uncovers. It seems the quiet, upstanding principal had a hidden past, full of mysterious secrets she'd successfully kept buried for years.
As the seasoned sheriff juggles professional constraints and personal demands—budget cuts, new team members, an arrogant coroner, a confused teenager, a precocious toddler, and a high-maintenance mother—she finds herself walking a fine line between justice and family that has never been so blurred.