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Remains of Innocence: A Brady Novel of Suspense (Joanna Brady Mysteries) Hardcover – July 22, 2014
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“As the dual story lines crisscross and the body count mounts, Jance hits her stride with a suspenseful plot that will keep readers flipping pages until the surprising... finale.” (Publishers Weekly on REMAINS OF INNOCENCE)
From the Back Cover
Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that hit close to home in New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance's thrilling tale of suspense that brings to life Arizona's Cochise County and the desert Southwest in all its beauty, mystery, and danger
An old woman, both a hermit and a hoarder, is dying in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. While cleaning out her dilapidated house, her estranged daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred-dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines that crowd every corner. After their father ran off with another woman, Liza and her older stepbrother grew up in this house, surviving poverty, squalor, and a mentally unstable mother. So where did all the cash come from?
For Liza, a waitress at a small local diner, the money seems like a blessing—until an elderly man she's never met appears at her mother's funeral, warning that she's in danger. Suddenly, Liza's quiet life is turned upside down. The house is torched, her apartment is broken into, and her elderly landlady is murdered. Someone very dangerous is looking for her and won't stop until she's found. Terrified, Liza sets off on a perilous cross-country journey that will lead her to Cochise County, Arizona, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own.
Junior Dowdle, a developmentally disabled man in his sixties, is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern near Bisbee. Inside the cave, the police also discover a badly injured kitten that is barely alive, as well as the remains of other mutilated pets. Joanna knows Junior's foster parents well, and she considered him a family friend. Though he'd always been kind and sweet, with the onset of dementia, he had begun having violent episodes. Could he have hurt those animals? Was his death an accident? Or is he a victim as well?
Joanna and her modest staff have their hands full investigating Junior's death and the animal abuse they uncovered. Then another case rocks the department—a shocking murder involving Liza and the money. Her department stretched to the limit, the undaunted sheriff must solve these two disturbing cases fast, before more innocent blood can be shed.
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Top Customer Reviews
For inveterate readers of mystery novels, I would like to recommend a way to enjoy the start of a good day. Here’s what I do. Keep in mind that I am a retired college professor. So, I spent four decades in the classroom and all the rest of what goes into being a reasonably competent professor of biology. During that time, I did not have all that much time to read for pleasure, so it took me a while to make it through a 400-page novel (389 in the case of Jance’s Remains of Innocence, which is what I am reviewing here). Now that I do not have to deal with the grading of yet another student paper, I can work novel reading into my somewhat less-demanding schedule. So, I awaken at about 8 AM and head to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee the old-fashioned way (espresso coffee from Latin America made in a beer stein using a coffee sock, available at any number of Cuban supermarkets in Miami). Then, I grab the novel du jour and head to the portico to begin to enjoy another day of fabulous weather, while checking out another few chapters of whatever book I happen to be reading. If it happens to be one of J. A. Jance’s marvelous creations, then I can be assured that such a day will be a good one.
J. A. Jance is a wonderful author. As it turns out, I discovered her on the shelves of a used bookstore in Copán, Honduras, in 2008, when I happened to run to the end of the novels I had taken with me on the trip. So, that began a long, pleasant journey, because J. A. Jance has written a large number of novels in her career to date. So, I have just finished the latest in her Joanna Brady series Remains of Innocence. Of the three series that Jance handily juggles, this one is my favorite. Joanna Brady is the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, with her office in Bisbee, where, incidentally, Jance was raised. Sheriff Brady lives with her husband, Butch, and her two children on High Lonesome Ranch outside of town. Butch is a former short-order cook and restaurant owner, who now writes novels for a living. Joanna’s prickley mother and father-in-law live nearby and Butch’s mother also lives depressingly close. The two mothers compete with one another for the Mother-in-law-from-Hell award on a continuing basis.
In Remains of Innocence, Ms. Jance has a very intriguing way of weaving together two separate tales that eventually become one about halfway through the book. In this effort, she begins one tale in a prologue and the other in chapter one. From that point, she alternates the tales chapter by chapter until she unites them in a clever way at about chapter 10 (there are 33 chapters in the book). Since her main character lives in Arizona and the prologue introduces a character who lives in western Massachusetts, Jance has to figure out how to bring the subsidiary character to the Bisbee area. How she manages that feat is one of the satisfying things about this novel, but the author is a past master of this approach to crafting a novel. Suffice it to say that by chapter 10 Sheriff Brady is dealing with two homicides committed a day apart, one involving a relative of the character introduced in the prologue, the other a Bisbee inhabitant introduced in an earlier novel. In attempting to gather the evidence necessary to identify the murderers, she has to recruit her father-in-law, the former but now retired medical examiner of the county, much to the predictable consternation of her mother.
Meanwhile, the half-sister of one of the murder victims makes her way westward by a means I will let the readers of this review discover for themselves. Suffice it to say that they will find considerable food for thought as the half-sister journeys onward across the country.
Jance puts Joanna Brady through her paces as the sheriff works to solve both homicides at the same time, even though they appear unrelated to one another. I don’t want to say more because the ending is unpredictable and part of the enjoyment of reading this novel. Needless to say, I highly recommend this product of the Jance art. It is difficult to go wrong with her.
Yet, this book seems to lacking something. We have the requisite mystery, and police chasing around, but there are loose ends to the story. I was left wanting a bit more finished story ending - and we may not find out, except in passing in the next book.
And Jance has done it better.
It was much like having a nice dinner at local eatery, versus havng your socks knocked off at a 5 star restaurant. You'll return to the local eatery and be satisfied, but the memory of the 5 star experience lingers.
After mulling it over a bit more, I think the distant crime, and events surrounding it, is of interest alone. When it comes to rest in Brady's jurisdiction, it is subsumed into the general story which includes a local crime. It is so interesting and far-reaching that I feel the resolution of the crime needed more attention. That might be why I was slightly disappointed.
I may have to reread the book after a week or so and see if a second reading changes my mind.
The book is still a very good read, and I recommend it.