cover image Deadly Stakes

Deadly Stakes

J.A. Jance. Touchstone, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2868-5

Bestseller Jance’s busy eighth Ali Reynolds thriller (after 2012’s Left for Dead) takes the former newscaster from Sedona, Ariz., to Phoenix, where friend Brenda Riley is filming a story on cyberstalker Richard Lowensdale, whom Reynolds helped bring down in 2011’s Fatal Error. When circumstances land Lynn Martinson, one of Lowensdale’s victims, in another pickle, Martinson’s mother recommends she turn to Reynolds for help. But Martinson and boyfriend Chip Ralston soon find themselves in worse trouble after the discovery of the body of Ralston’s avaricious ex-wife, Gemma Ralston. The discovery of a second body near the first raises puzzling questions about possible connections between the victims. Meanwhile, high school senior A.J. Sanders, who anonymously reported Gemma’s death, also seeks Reynolds help as he tries to avoid suspicion. Series fans will welcome the familiar supporting cast, including computer nerd Stuart Ramey and boyfriend B. Simpson, but awkwardly contrived linkages and a lack of narrative drive make this a lesser effort. Agent: Alice Volpe, Northwest Literary. (Feb.)