Field Of Bones: A Brady Novel of Suspense
By J.A. Jance
William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; hardcover, $27.99; available Tuesday, September 4
J.A. Jance, New York Times bestselling author and recipient of The Strand Magazine's 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award, is back with a chilling novel, Field Of Bones, featuring Sheriff Joanna Brady.
Jance came on the scene as part of a wave of breakout, female mystery and suspense writers that splashed onto the literary scene a few decades ago, and she has become a perennial favorite among readers.
With the gripping novel Field Of Bones, Jance demonstrates why she is among the genre's prominent storytellers.
Sheriff Joanna Brady is still recovering from a series of tragedies, but her life has never been busier.
Joanna's oldest daughter is off to college, her five-year-old son is full of energy and boundless curiosity, she is pregnant and running for re-election as Cochise County.
Jance writes, "As Sheriff Joanna Brady and her reelection committee gathered in the social hall at the Tombstone Canyon United Methodist Church in Old Bisbee to await the results, everyone expected it would be an election-night nail-biter, one that would end with either a victory celebration or a concession speech.
"This was the third time she had stood for election, and this battle has been by far the toughest. For one thing, her opponent, Donald Hubble, was a well-heeled good old boy who had money to burn. He had paid for his run for office out of pocket without having to do any outside fund-raising either. He had outspent Joanna three times over, papering the whole of Cochise County with thousands of yard signs and buying spots on Tucson television channels that broadcast throughout southern Arizona. His favorite tagline, 'Cochise County needs a full-time sheriff as opposed to a part-time one,' was a not-so-subtle reference to Sheriff Brady's very obvious and advancing pregnancy. The one thing his paid-for commercials couldn't paper over was Hubble's well-deserved reputation as a bully of both people and animals, a reputation he had earned during the years he'd been in charge of running his father's massive cattle ranch south of Wilcox.
"Being both pregnant and outspent hadn't been Joanna's only stumbling blocks during this election cycle, not by a long shot. Late in August her world had been shattered when her mother, Eleanor, and her stepfather, George Winfield, had both fallen victim to a freeway shooter on I-17 south of Flagstaff, Arizona. The tragic loss of Joanna's parents should have been more than enough to derail her reelection effort. Unfortunately, fate had much more in store.
"Back home in Cochise County, what started out as a routine homicide investigation had revealed that one of her longtime officers, Deputy Jeremy Stock, despite showing a 'good guy' face to the world, had actually been an abusive and ultimately murderous husband and father. When the truth finally came out, he turned his wrath on Joanna herself. Only the timely intervention of Joanna's K-9 unit - Deputy Terry Gregovich and his dog, Spike - had saved her life, but not before the dog had been gravely injured. Three months later he was still recovering and had been medically retired from his K-9 duties. As for Jeremy Stock? Rather than be taken into custody, he had taken his own life, plunging to death off a rock-bound cliff.
"The fact that Joanna had been totally bamboozled by someone she thought she knew well had shattered her confidence in her ability to read people and made her wonder how many more troubled souls might be hiding in plain sight inside her department. For a time she'd seriously considered dropping out of the race. She might well have done so had not members of the department rallied behind her.
"Both her sworn officers and civilian staff members had urged her to stay in contention. Most of them had worked with her for the better part of eight years, and they'd come to trust her. Although she could often be a demanding boss, she required as much of herself as she did of others, and she made every effort to be fair.
"With their backing she fought the good fight. After her parents' funeral and once the ink had dried on the paperwork surrounding the Jeremy Stock homicides, Joanna had gone back to campaigning with renewed effort and purpose. And now here they were - nine o'clock on election night with the results starting to trickle in."
Joanna not only wins her third election as Cochise County sheriff in a squeaker of a race, but she also gave birth to a new daughter on the same night. While all this is going on, her husband, Butch is away on an exhausting book tour.
While being devoted to her work, Joanna is expected to see her maternity leave through to the end, but in this beautiful desert landscape, home of Wyatt Earp, Tombstone, and the shoot-out at the OK Corral, a serial killer is roaming free and turned her small corner of the Southwest into a field of bones.
When a teenager turns in a human skull found on the far side of the San Bernardino Valley in the Peloncillo Mountains between Arizona and New Mexico, it is the beginning of a serial homicide case that has put her best intentions on hold.
Rather than stay home with her newborn and losing herself in the cold cases detailed in her father's unread diaries, she finds herself overseeing a complex investigation involving multiple jurisdictions and an FBi profiler.
This story is filled with the beloved characters vivid history, intriguing mystery, and the scenic Arizona desert backdrop that have come to define the Joanna Brady series.
Field Of Bones is relentlessly suspenseful and engaging, and you will be captivated by the heroine of this tale, Sheriff Joanna Brady.
J.A. Jance is the author of the J.P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series, and five international thrillers about the Walker family, as well as a volume of poetry. Her website is www.jajance.com, you can find her on Facebook at facebook.com/JAJance, and on Twitter @JAJance.