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Dead to Rights (Joanna Brady Mysteries, Book 4) Hardcover – October, 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The best thing about Jance's books is Joanna Brady who became an Arizona county sheriff after her father and husband died on the job. Jance can move Brady from an exciting, dangerous scene on one page to a sensitive, touching personal moment on the next. In her latest outing, Brady is looking into two major crimes. But that doesn't stop her from giving a terrific speech about why selling Girl Scout cookies gave her confidence, or worrying about a friend trying to adopt a child in China, or even finally beginning to understand what makes her annoying mother tick. Earlier books in the Brady series: Desert Heat, Tombstone Courage, Shoot, Don't Shoot. Jance also authors the popular J.P. Beaumont series, which includes Dismissed With Prejudice, Failure to Appear, Lying in Wait, Name Withheld, Without Due Process.

From Publishers Weekly

Cochise County, Ariz., sheriff Joanna Brady (Shoot/Don't Shoot) has her newly elected hands full in this fourth adventure. When veterinarian Amos Buckwalter is murdered by arson, deputies immediately suspect Hal Morgan, whose wife, Bonnie, was recently killed by a drunken Buckwalter in a car accident. Morgan, himself an ex-cop, had been picketing Buckwalter's animal hospital, handing out Mothers Against Drunk Driving literature just before the vet's body was found in a burning barn. Joanna doubts his guilt because she understands his grief, her own husband having been murdered not so long ago. Besides, the widow Buckwalter is strangely stoic, even getting a makeover and playing golf on the day after her husband's death. While Joanna locks horns with experienced detectives on the case, she must cope with her rebellious nine-year-old daughter, Jenny, a bossy mother, budget-cutting county supervisors and her aching loneliness. The unlikely sheriff (her husband had run for the office, and she entered the campaign only after his death) is an engaging heroine, vulnerable but determined to meet the challenges in her personal and public life. Jance skillfully ties the mystery to the southeastern Arizona landscape, its historic mining towns and their modern problems. 75,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books (T); 1st edition (October 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380973944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380973941
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and Edge of Evil, the first in a series featuring Ali Reynolds. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio Cassette
In this fourth Joanna Brady book, the heroine seems to become better defined than in the previous books. She continues to juggle her role as sheriff and mother, but seems to find a better balance. She is also relating better to her doubting staff and proving that she is worthy of her job. In this book, Hal Morgan's beloved wife is run over by a drunk driver on their 19th. wedding anniversary. The driver is Bucky Buckwalter, a veterinarian who serves his short term and some community service, then is released. Hal is upset by what he perceives as a mere slap on the wrist, and becomes very active in Mother's Against Drunk Drivers. When Bucky is found dead in a burning building, everyone assumes that Hal is the murderer. Everyone except Joanna, that is. She does some investigating and the action becomes fast and furious at the end. This book also contains a budding romance for Joanna, as well as her widowed mother.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The character of Joanna Brady keeps growing on the reading audience and J.A. Jance has created another winner with this series.

This book picks up the life of Joanna Brady a few months after her husband was killed and shortly after she's elected as the new Sheriff of Cochise County in Arizona (actually this is the fourth book in the series following DESERT HEAT, TOMBSTONE COURAGE, and SHOOT, DON'T SHOOT). This tale is another fast paced journey into not only Joanna's life as sheriff, but also through her personal life as well.

The main storyline revolves around the killing of a veterinarian, Bucky Buckwalter, and the new sheriff is once again tossed in the middle of turmoil. You'd think the murder investigation would be enough, but add in the facts that the prime suspect is a former cop and Bucky had killed the guy's wife a few years before while driving intoxicated and only received a slap on the wrist for his crime. Bad enough? Jance didn't think so, so then she inserts the fact that the two of them have had heated public arguments that Joanna didn't think needed intervention by the sheriff's office. Some in her department, looking for any excuse available to disrespect the new boss, are implying that she was ineffective and basically allowed the murder to happen. Ok, now it's getting more interesting but Jance still doesn't stop. Since all of the evidence conveniently points directly to Hal Morgan (the husband bent on revenge), Joanna feels it's a little too easy and investigates the case herself. Ok, now we have the makings of a great J.A. Jance mystery!

If you haven't read this series yet, that could be a good thing. You can begin reading now and when you finish one book you can easily obtain the next line.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book I have read by J. A. Jance and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I have to go see if I can find the first three before I go on to Skeleton Canyon. I was stumped until almost the very end on who the killer was -- that makes for a good read! Try J. A. Jance. You'll like her.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dead to Rights tells the story of a very bad week in the life of Sheriff Joanna Brady. Still trying to cope with the murder of her late husband, Sheriff Brady also has to cope with murder, suicide, undocumented aliens, a weaselly governor, workplace squabbling , and hostile newspaperfolk. Add to that enough mother-daughter conflict and examples of marital frustration to rival The Joy Luck Club, and you've got a novel that keeps things hopping.
The only area in which the book falls short is when it reveals the murderer of Bucky Buckwalter. I've read Chapter 20 several times and motivations still don't make a lot of sense.
This book has a great deal of character development in it, as well as the advancement of several of the ongoing subplots. If you've read later books, but not this one you'll find it helpful in its detailing, among other things, Marianne Maculyea's adoption experience, how Jenny gets Kiddo the horse, Butch Dixon coming on the scene, and Eleanor and Doc Winfield hooking up.
While the mystery falls a little flat at the end, Jance does an excellent job keeping the pace up and developing her characters and storylines. While I wouldn't suggest this as the first Joanna Brady novel you read - pick up Desert Heat or Partners in Crime for that - this is definitely a don't-miss book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is number 4 in the Sheriff Joanna Brady of Bisbee, AZ mystery series. While I think this series started out o.k. the later books seem to have a bit more suspense and mystery to them. I enjoyed this book because Joanna is one of my favorite female sleuths, but I would have liked more zing to the character's personality and to the plot. The main characters are mostly likable and the story is a relaxing, easy read; however, the story is a bit slow moving and unexciting in several places. If you prefer murder mysteries without lots of graphic violence, and a story free of sexual innuendos and profanity, then this just might be the book for you. Try the whole series....it does become a must read kind of thingy after a few.

Hal Morgan is a former cop, and he and his wife are celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary. While crossing the street, after an out-on-the-town dinner, a car with a drunk driver behind the wheel careens around a corner, over a curb and heads for the happy couple. Long story short. Hal is unhurt; however, his wife is killed. The driver, a Bisbee veterinarian, by the name of Bucky Buckwalter, is essentially given a slap on the wrist and some community service time for the misdeed. Hal thinks Bucky deserved more severe punishment for the murder by vehicle. Hal would like to see Bucky dead.

Later Bucky is found dead in a burning building behind his vet clinic. His death is ruled murder. Hal was demonstrating in front of the clinic earlier in the day. The two had words and Joanna observed the demeanor exhibited. Of course Hal becomes the number 1 suspect, and things become a bit convoluted for Hal. But did Hal murder Bucky or did someone else do the deed?
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