Sheriff Joanna Brady is about to be married and is dealing with her preteen daughter, meddlesome mother, and new in-laws. The sudden death of her dear friend Clayton Rhodes creates further turmoil and makes Joanna the target of Clayton's irate daughter, who makes accusations of a murder cover-up.Amidst the uproar, an Indian woman -- recently released from prison after serving time for the manslaughter killing of her husband -- is found shot to death. Her fifteen-year-old daughter Lucy is missing.The death at first appears to be a case of domestic violence -- the troubled teen runaway may be a victim or a cold-blooded killer. As Joanna deals with the long-standing troubles of Rhodes's family and digs deeper into the life of Lucy's people, her investigation leads her down a twisted trail of hatred and greed -- and into a dangerous world where violence is the first response and long-buried secrets are a reason to kill...or die.As always, Sheriff Joanna Brady brings the setting to life with the sensitivity, spirit, and intense passion for justice that makes Jance novels ring with authenticity.
Arizona sheriff Joanna Brady's wedding plans are disrupted by the death of a neighbor who leaves his ranch to her, much to his daughter's chagrin, and by the murder of Sandra Ridder, a recently paroled convict. Sandra, once a militant Native American college student, was convicted of murdering her husband, and now her 15-year-old daughter, Lucy, runs away to evade her mother's killer. The focus on Lucy's troubled life and her relationship with Big Red, a red-tailed hawk, makes Jance's tale often seem more like a young adult novel than a traditional mystery. Though Jance's depiction of the physical landscape is, as usual, fascinating, she devotes too much time to Joanna's mundane personal life. With these flaws, this novel could still have been somewhat engaging if not for Stephanie Brush's halting, grating, amateurish reading. Not recommended. Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 30, 2001
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Excerpt from Devil's Claw by J.A. Jance
The yellow school bus rumbled down the long dirt trail known as Middlemarch Road, throwing up a thick cloud of red dust that swirled high into the air behind it. Approaching a shotgun-pellet-pocked CURVES sign, the bus slowed and then stopped beside a peeling blue mailbox sitting atop a crooked wooden post. Switching on the blinking red lights, the driver, Agnes Hooper, waited until the trailing dust blew past before she opened the door to discharge her only remaining passenger.
Moving slowly, Lucinda Ridder dragged her heavy backpack down the center aisle. Even though she had been alone on the bus for several miles, Lucy Ridder never left her designated spot in the very back row. That was the place where some of the older kids had decreed she sit two years earlier, when she had first enrolled in Elfrida High School, and that was where she remained to this day -- in the back of the bus. To Agnes Hooper's personal knowledge, none of the other kids ever spoke to the scrawny, homely girl with her bone-thin arms and her thick, eye-shrinking glasses. Lucy had come to Elfrida's high school after attending grade school in Pearce, a tiny community just up the road, but she had evidently been just as friendless there. None of the other girls ever offered to share that lonely backseat spot with her or whispered silly secrets in her ear. No one ever offered her a bite of the afternoon snacks that sometimes found their forbidden way onto Agnes Hooper's supposedly food-free bus. It seemed to Agnes that the girl's stubborn silence had rendered her so invisible that the other kids no longer even noticed her. In a way, that was a blessing, since it meant they no longer bothered to tease her, either.
The bus driver's kind heart went out to this strange and fiercely silent girl. After all, it wasn't Lucinda Ridder's fault that her father was dead, that her mother was in prison, and that she herself had been forced to come live with her widowed grandmother, Catherine Yates, whose own great-grandfather had been a noted Apache chief. Lucy's Indian blood had been diluted enough by both her grandfather and her father, so she didn't look particularly Indian. Still, in that part of rural southeastern Arizona where what went on during the Apache Wars still mattered, people knew who she was and where she came from. And, as far as Apaches were concerned, what could you expect
Peering into the hazy reflection of her dusty rearview mirror, Agnes tried to catch Lucy's sad, downcast eyes as she trudged disconsolately down the narrow aisle of the bus. Agnes was struck by the girl's obvious reluctance to exit the bus. Everything about going to school and riding the bus had to be pure torture for her. Still, on this blustery spring afternoon, it seemed to Agnes that whatever fate awaited her at home must be far worse.
As Lucy finally stepped off the bus onto the weed-clogged shoulder, Agnes called after her. "You-all have a good weekend, now," the driver said as cheerily as she could manage. "See you on Monday."