The dead woman on a cold slab in the Arizona morgue was a talented artist recently arrived from the West Coast. The Washington State Attorney General's office thinks this investigation is too big for a small-town female law officer to handle, so they're sending Sheriff Joanna Brady some unwanted help--a seasoned detective named Beaumont. Sheriff Brady resents his intrusion, and Bisbee, Arizona, with its ghosts and memories, is the last place J.P. Beaumont wants to be. But the twisting desert road they must reluctantly travel together is leading them into a very deadly nest of rattlers. And if they hope to survive, suddenly trust is the only option they have left ...
In this chilling novel, the prolific Jance successfully brings together her dyspeptic Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont (Birds of Prey, etc.) and Cochise County, Ariz., Sheriff Joanna Brady (Paradise Lost, etc.). When artist Rochelle Baxter is murdered in Bisbee, Ariz., Brady's department is stunned that Baxter's next of kin is not a person but the Washington State Attorney General's Office. Baxter was Latisha Wall, an industrial whistle-blower in a Washington witness protection program pending her testimony at an important trial. Beaumont, now an investigator for the AG, is sent to Arizona to determine if Wall's cover was blown. The enraged Brady interprets his arrival as personal criticism; Beaumont feels uncomfortable with her resentment and with being in the hometown of his second wife, the serial killer Anne Rowland Corley. After a second murder, the two investigators develop mutual respect and even a physical attraction. The convoluted plot builds to a surprising solution, though the floundering romance ultimately comes off as forced. The most frightening feature is the cause of death--sodium azide, an odorless, tasteless, unregulated chemical used in automobile air bags. Jance highlights the differences between her two protagonists by alternating Beaumont's first-person narration (despite her Seattle sleuth's dislike of Arizona's desolate scenery, the author describes it beautifully) with Brady's third-person chapters, which show how Brady, her staff and family handle pressure.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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August 04, 2002
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