When Cochise County, Arizona, Sheriff Joanna Brady′s daughter Jenny goes off on a Memorial Day weekend girl scout camp-out in nearby Apache Pass, Joanna trusts that her 12-year-old daughter will behave. But with boy-crazy Dora Matthews as a tentmate, Jenny is seduced into taking a late night unauthorized hike into the wilderness where--instead of smoking a clandestine cigarette--she and Dora stumble upon the body of a murdered Phoenix woman. Knowing that her little girl will be traumatized by her experience, Joanna must balance concern for Jenny with the demands of her new marriage and possible bid for reelection. But when young Dora Matthews herself turns up dead two days later, Joanna′s concern turns to terror. For if Constance Haskell′s killer is murdering potential witnesses, Jenny may be next.
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When Jennifer Brady returns to Northern Arizona University for her sophomore year, she quickly becomes a big sister to her new roommate, Beth Rankin, a brilliant yet sheltered sixteen-year-old freshman. For a homeschooled Beth, college is her first taste of both freedom and unfettered access to the internet, and Jenny is concerned that she’s too naïve and rebellious for her own good.
Her worries are well-founded because one day Beth vanishes, prompting Jenny to alert campus authorities, local police, and her mom, Sheriff Joanna Brady—who calls in a favor. Beth is found, but Jenny’s concern has unwittingly put her in the crosshairs of a criminal bent on revenge.
With Christmas vacation approaching, and Beth at war with her parents, Jenny invites Beth to the shelter of the Brady home. While Joanna is sympathetic, she’s caught up in a sensitive case—an officer-involved shooting that has placed the lives of two young children in jeopardy—leaving her stretched thin to help a fragile young woman recently gone missing and endangered.
New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance returns with her eighth novel in the highly acclaimed Joanna Brady mystery series. Set against the backdrop of the modern west, this gripping tale finds Sheriff Brady juggling a precarious overload in both her personal and professional lives. About to be married, Joanna's facing a daughter turning twelve and going on twenty, a meddlesome mother micro-managing her wedding, and new in-laws arriving any day. The sudden death of her much-loved neighbor and handyman, Clayton Rhodes, creates further turmoil, leaving Joanna shocked, saddened, and the target of Clayton's irate and irrational daughter, who accuses the Sheriff's Department of covering up a possible murder.
But amidst the uproar, the report of a homicide at Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains quickly captures Joanna's full attention. An Indian woman has been found shot to death--a woman recently released from prision after serving time for the manslaughter killing of her husband. She is the mother of a missing fifteen-year-old, Lucy Ridder.
The death at first appears to be a case of domestic rage finally exploding'and a troubled teen runaway may be a victim, or a cold-blooded killer. Yet as Joanna deals with the long-standing troubles of Clayton Rhodes' family and digs deeper into the mysterious life of Lucy and her family, she discovers that investigating family hostilities is leading her down a twisted trail of hatred, greed, and far-reaching consequences--and into a dangerous world where violence is the first response and long buried secrets are a reason to kill…or die.
Once again, J.A. Jance delivers a gritty, deftly written thriller that unfolds on a vivid landscape of raw beauty and unrelenting danger. And, as always, Sheriff Joanna Brady brings the setting to life with the sensitivity, spirit, and intense passion for justice that makes Jance novels ring with authenticity.