When Joanna Brady's daughter, Jenny, stumbles across the body of her high school principal, Debra Highsmith, in the desert, the Cochise County sheriff's personal and professional worlds collide. Though she's tried to protect her children from the dangers of the grown-up world, the search for justice leads straight to her own door and forces her to face the possibility that her beloved daughter may be less perfect than she seems. Yet the deeper Joanna digs, the more complications she uncovers. It seems the quiet, upstanding principal had a hidden past, full of mysterious secrets she'd successfully kept buried for years. As the seasoned sheriff juggles professional constraints and personal demands, she finds herself walking a fine line between justice and family that has never been so blurred.
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I am just now listening to JUDGMENT CALL. Ms. Jance never writes another Joanna Brady book for me fast enough. I read DESERT HEAT a few years after I became a widow, and I have been following Joanna ever since.
This book is much better than FIRE and ICE, Yes, it was a Joanna Brady book with J P Beaumont. I didn't think it was up to par to the way I like to think a Joanna Brady book should be. Though life is full of changes, I wish that Frank Montoya was still with Joanna as her second in command. It's like catching up with the family.
As for the narrator, I personally wouldn't have picked Hillary Huber either. Her voice is a bit grating, but she is better than a few of the narrators I truly dislike and becuse of them, I will not listen to a book by a favorite author because of the narrator. There are many better narrators. Susan Ericksen would be my top pick, but she can't do all of the books we like to listen too.
Cassandra Campbell, Carrington McDuffie, Katherine Kellergen, Kate Reading, Susie Breck, and Barbara Rosenblatt are few of the narrators that come to my mind. I am sure there are a few others that I can't think of right now.
The problem is, it's not up to to the author or us who reads the books, it's up to the publishers. The fine ladies I just mentioned, may not be able to do it, or the publisher and recording companies do not want to put out the big bucks.
Very odd -- for a series as popular as J A Jance's Joanna Brady books, for as many segments as there are in the series, it's odd that there have been so many different narrators. By contrast, Gene Eugene was a decades-long standard for narrating the J P Beaumont series. Why the vast variety in the Joanna Brady books?
Hillary Huber is my least favorite of them all. I'll never fail to buy the Brady books, but I really do wish they'd stop using Huber -- the books read by Stephanie Brush are by far the best. Brush sounds exactly like I'd expect Joanna to sound. C.J. Critt is my second favorite.
Hillary Huber is the worst. She has a very strange narration voice. Sometimes it's so smooth, flat and nasal it borders on robotic. Then she lapses into a sort of bored-sounding nasally valley girl accent for Jenny, which, while grating and not reflective of the character of Jenny, might possibly work for a teenager, but then Huber seems to forget what she's doing, and suddenly we have a sheriff talking like a bored teen. And all the men sound like bright, chipper, perky young men, whereas we know most of them are older than Joanna and not all of them are eager-beavers, contrary to the way Huber has them talking.
It can't be easy to narrate audiobooks. To come up with different but credible voices for each character must be a challenge. But surely the narrator could manage to stay awake. Time and time again she missed changing her voice for the character -- it was terribly annoying.
That said, Judgement Calls is a worthy installment in the Joanna Brady series. We finally find out what happened to Joanna's father, and best of all, we get plenty of action from Joanna's mother, who makes me laugh and cry at the same time, because she reminds me so much of my mother. There's one classic interchange, I had to play it three times to enjoy it completely: Joanna has news about her long-dead father's murder, and wants to tell her mother about it, so she calls and says merely that she'd like to stop by for a cup of coffee. Sensing something amiss -- that isn't Joanna's usual habit -- Eleanor asks what's wrong. Joanna demurs, saying they'll talk about it later. Eleanor spouts, "Oh, I know! Andy's left you, hasn't he?" Made me just howl! That is such a typical reaction from a whole legion of mothers, especially those of Eleanor's vintage. Great stuff -- as was Eleanor's occasional graciousness to Joanna when they're in public. The troubled and somewhat caustic mother-daughter relationship in these books is something that a lot of mothers -- and daughters -- will recognize.
These books are filled with that -- real life stories, real people, real everyday problems and situations. Every installment is a treat.
That said, I sure would appreciate it if the publishers would find -- and then stick to -- a better narrator, though. Please, more Stephanie Brush!