J. A. Jance

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Joanna Brady - Sheriff, Cochise County, Arizona

"Exit Wounds"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer AUG 03, 2003)

It is one of the most brutal scenes that Sheriff Joanna Brady has ever been witness to. A woman has been shot to death in her mobile home. Her seventeen dogs, trapped inside, become victim to the terrible Arizona heat and lay dead around her. It is only the visit of an animal control officer, coming to see if the woman, Carol Mossman, has been able to license and vaccinate all her dogs that leads to the heart breaking discovery.

Read excerptThe motive in this case is really confusing...Carol had nothing. She was living in a run down mobile home, and she spent what little money she had on food for her and the dogs, not on things like electricity. The only different thing she had happening in her life at this time was that a couple of reporters were supposed to visit her...but what could she know that would be worth murder? Joanna Brady, hampered by reelection troubles and trying to balance her family, needs to find out.

This has got to be one of the saddest murders I've ever read. We meet Carol before her death, and see the love she has for her dogs...I couldn't help feeling so bad for them. The dogs were a lot like her, in that no one wanted them, they had been abused, and so she gave them everything she had, especially love. She was poor and frightened all her life, and her life was made worse by the government threatening to take away her animals. I never thought about it before...on the news you hear about people living with all these animals, and in pig sty like conditions, and when they haul them off to the shelter, I feel mildly disgusted, and I think "Good. Now those poor dogs will be taken care of." But this book made me rethink that...it's not the point of the book, indeed, it's really just a minor detail, but it seems so sad, because dogs like the ones Jance describes Carol as having aren't the type that are going to be adopted. They're going to end up being put down. What this does have to do with the book is that in feeling so sad for the victim, I was really into learning more about her, picking up the clues as Joanna did, actively trying to fit them together. It made the story more imperative, more immediate.

Another thing that makes this book such a full reading experience is that, as usual, we are very much involved with all aspects of Joanna Brady's life. In the last book, Partner in Crime, her major competitor in the next election was behind a campaign to discredit her, and now, in this book, she's finally racing against him, and the trials and tribulations of running for a public office are often quite funny, even as they say some interesting things about how we win the public...or, how people think they can win the public. It also lends a nice continuity to the series ...something like an election sticks out, and so it really makes us feel like we're moving forward in her life. Also, her interaction with her family is interesting...seeing what she's like with her husband and child, as well as how she acts during the course of her job gives us a greater understanding of her perspectives. The fact that she adopts the single survivor of the tragedy, a little mixed puppy, gives her that extra touch of humanity that makes her a pleasure to be around.

The secret, when it's revealed, is quite a surprise, and only adds to the tragedy. As always, Jance creates an incredible mystery, mixing in many elements to create something that is hard to put down.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 71 reviews

Read a chapter excerpt from Exit Wounds at MostlyFiction.com

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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Joanna Brady Series

J.P. Beaumont Series (Seattle Homicide Detective)

*Features both Joanna Brady and J.P. Beaumont

++ Sentenced to Die is first three novels in one volume (March 2005)

Ex-Sheriff Brandon Walker:

Ali Reynolds series:



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About the Author:

J. A. JanceJ. A. Jance (Judith Ann) was born in 1944 in Watertown, South Dakota and was raised in Bisbee, Arizona. She now lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington and Tucson, Arizona.

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