cover image Shoot/Don't Shoot

Shoot/Don't Shoot

J. A. Jance. William Morrow & Company, $21 (281pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13821-9

If, after nearly being done in at the conclusion of Tombstone Courage, newly elected Cochise County, Ariz., sheriff Joanna Brady thought she deserved a calm spell, she had another think coming. The plucky widow, whose sheriff husband was slain on duty, reluctantly leaves her 13-year-old daughter and comfortable hometown of Bisbee for Tucson, where she enrolls in a sorely needed law-enforcement course. The big city is besieged by a number of brutal domestic-violence crimes, which turn out to be the work of an opportunistic serial killer. Joanna finds herself drawn into the case of one falsely accused suspect even as she hits the books and deflects verbal attacks from her neanderthal instructor. In her last outing, Joanna's balance of toughness and vulnerability was utterly believable, as were her struggles with her domineering mother and troubled daughter. But Jance goes overboard here. The family tensions now border on melodrama, and it's amazing that Joanna hasn't developed a persecution complex, given the way danger always threatens so close to home. Maybe, when she returns to dusty, irresistible Bisbee, all will be right again. (July)