A cop lies dying beneath the blistering Arizona sun - a local lawman who may well have become the next sheriff of Cochise County. The police brass claim that Andy Brady was dirty, and that his shooting was a suicide attempt. Joanna Brady, his devoted wife and mother of their nine-year-old daughter, knows a cover-up when she hears one...and murder when she sees it.But her determined efforts to hunt down an assassin and clear her husband's name are placing Joanna and her surviving family in harm's way - because in the desert, the one thing more lethal than a rattler's bite...is the truth.
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This series is one of my favorites, and Jance has done a terrific job of introducing Joanna Brady and her friends and family. The book description above is good, so I won't rehash it here. The characters are great, the situation is believable and I highly recommend this book. Ms Huber isn't a great narrator, with a limited range of different voices, but she doesn't make mistakes or have annoying quirks.
Sadly, several of the next few books in the series are available only in abridged format, and you'll want to skip those.
Finding a Joanna Brady book I hadn't read? Wow. And the first one -- really? How did I miss it? But what a happy thing I had missed it -- got to listen to it now for the first time.
I love this series -- I appreciate the whole crowd, not just Joanna, but Jenny (called more formally "Jennifer" in this first book) who's nine years old here, Marianne the minister, Joanna's viper-tongued mother, who reminds me so much of one of my female relatives I listed to those parts over and over, laughing every time. Boy, Miz Jance nails these nasty-mother characters just perfectly. We even meet both dogs, and learn how Tigger came into the family.
And it's here we meet the sadder but wiser Annie Kellogg, too, who plays a big part in several subsequent books. I hadn't realized she'd been there from the start, even her love for birds is shown here. Who knew?
It was fun to see where it all started. And interesting, too, because Jance is unique among authors who have written as many books as she has: this first book and the last ones are equally good. Joanna and the whole crowd age, they go through normal life cycles, but Jance never seems to run out of unique material to occupy them all.
That's unusual. The norm is -- or seems to be -- that after a few books in a series, authors either start to fade away, losing interest in their own characters. Or they struggle to find new situations to mess around with, getting more and more extreme, to the point the books are just no longer interesting. Some authors get better, of course -- like John Sandford. His early Luke Davenport books are very different -- Luke in the beginning is an angry, violent guy, and only over time does he get to be the wisecracking hero, still just as creative and brave, but without the hard edge of anger displayed in the first books. But Joanna? She doesn't change. She's just as smart, dedicated, honest, brave and interesting in the last books as she was in the first.
But now I have indeed read them all. Nothing to do now but wait for new ones!