Thursday, September 8, 2016

Downfall by J.A. Jance

A sheriff's life is rarely calm and placid.  But this is an unusual week for Arizona Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady.  She is planning the funerals of her mother and stepfather after they were killed by a sniper while driving on vacation.  Her daughter has left for her first week of college.  Joanna is also pregnant with her third child.  Any of those things would be a major event in anyone else's life.

But things are going to get even more hectic for Brady.  A double homicide is discovered.  Two women are found killed in the desert at the foot of a local mountain.  It first appears to be an accident but as the police investigate it becomes apparent it is murder.  What isn't apparent is the connection between the two women.  One is a graduate student who has been spending the summer studying desert plants.  The other is a teacher in a local high school, the wife of a pastor.

As the investigation deepens, motives start to emerge.  The teacher is trapped in a loveless marriage, both she and her husband involved in affairs.  Even worse, it appears some of her lovers may be students from her own school.  Was she the primary victim or did the graduate student pose a risk to someone?  Of course, law enforcement is never static and another death happens that must also be investigated.  Will Joanna get through this horrible week?

J. A. Jance is a prolific writer of mysteries and the Joanna Brady series is one of her most successful.  This is the twentieth novel in the series, and longtime readers will be interested to see what Brady is up to now, and how her life is unfolding.  The novel gives a good picture of the routine of a police department and the daily tasks that unfold as well as how resources are allocated and how policing in a small town requires a delicate balance between knowing everyone and avoiding giving too much away.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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