cover image Rattlesnake Crossing

Rattlesnake Crossing

J. A. Jance. William Morrow & Company, $23 (371pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97499-3

""Yes, indeed, folks is droppin' like flies,"" a crotchety witness says to Sheriff Joanna Brady. ""I don't remember us havin' this kind of murder problem back when we had a man for sheriff."" A killer is loose in Cochise County, Ariz., and Brady is under pressure to stop the carnage. Her sixth adventure (following Skeleton Canyon, 1997) begins with the discovery of a gun dealer's body. His stock of high-powered weapons has disappeared, and some of the later murder victims appear to have been shot with big guns. They are also scalped, throwing suspicion on visitors at a quasi-dude ranch for Apache wannabes from Europe, who dress in Indian garb and live outdoors. Then an FBI profiler tells Brady that the scalping may provide trophies for a possible serial killer. On the personal front, the widowed sheriff finds her relationship deepening with Phoenix bar owner Butch Dixon, and she suffers with her dear friend, minister Marianne Maculyea, whose faith is tested when her adopted daughter falls gravely ill. Although Joanna's private life is central to this series and is, as usual, movingly portrayed, the sheer number of bodies piling up in this case gives her professional efforts considerably more dramatic impact than her personal considerations. Author tour. (July)