Dead to Rights

J. A. Jance, Author
J. A. Jance, Author Avon Books $22 (373p) ISBN 978-0-380-97394-1
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
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. (Oct.)
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