PARADISE LOST by J. A. Jance (see her website)
William Morrow, 2001
While Sheriff Joanna Brady and her new husband are at a sheriff's convention, Brady's daughter, Jennifer, finds a battered corpse. Brady's maternal concern skips up several notches when the girl Jennifer found the corpse with is killed by an apparent hit and run. Is her daughter in danger? Do these murders have anything to do with the recent car-jackings in Cochise County, Arizona? Brady throws herself into action with barely an apology to her husband who had counted on her to join him at a friend's wedding.
Author J. A. Jance (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews by Jance) writes an engaging mystery (see also our review of DEVIL'S CLAW). With PARADISE LOST, she has raised the level of emotional intensity several notches. During this novel, Brady puts her marriage, her family, and her career on the line as she tries to get to the bottom of the horrible killings.
Although Brady is the protagonist, Jance also does an excellent job developing the characters of Jennifer, Butch (Brady's new husband), Brady's mother, and even her chief deputy Frank. The mountain expanses of Arizona become almost another character as Brady must trade time against distance to prevent further killings.
I felt slightly cheated that Jance did not clean up one significant lose end, the reporter, Maggie MacFerson had threatened to destroy Brady but seemed to vanish in the middle of the book. She played too large a role early on to leave the reader hanging. Even this flaw, however, did not keep me from enjoying this fine mystery or recommending it highly.
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