Tuesday, March 10, 2015

J.A. Jance – Cold Betrayal is featured in the HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.

The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES J.A. Jance New Book: Cold Betrayal. 

J.A. "Judith" Jance is a New York Times bestselling author. She is best known for the Joanna Brady series and the J. P. Beaumont series.

Cold Betrayal

An Ali Reynolds Novel

Author: J.A. Jance


Revenge isn’t the only dish served cold...

Ali Reynolds’s longtime friend and Taser-carrying nun, Sister Anselm, rushes to the bedside of a young pregnant woman hospitalized for severe injuries after she was hit by a car on a deserted Arizona highway. The girl had been running away from The Family, a polygamous cult with no patience for those who try to leave its ranks. Something about her strikes a chord in Sister Anselm, reminding her of a case she worked years before when another young girl wasn’t so lucky.

Meanwhile, married life agrees with Ali. But any hopes that she and her husband, B. Simpson, will finally slow down and relax now that they’ve tied the knot are dashed when Ali’s new daughter-in-law approaches her, desperate for help. The girl’s grandmother, Betsy, is in danger: she’s been receiving anonymous threats, and someone even broke into her home and turned on the gas burners in the middle of the night. But the local police think the elderly woman’s just not as sharp as she used to be.

While Ali struggles to find a way to protect Betsy before it’s too late, Sister Anselm needs her help as well, and the two race the clock to uncover the secrets that The Family has hidden for so long—before someone comes back to bury them forever.

Excerpt from Cold Betrayal 

Would you care for coffee, madame?”

Ali Reynolds glanced up from her file-littered desk as the French doors between her library office and the living room swung open. Leland Brooks, her aging majordomo, entered the room carrying a rosewood tray laden with a coffeepot as well as cups and saucers for two. It had taken years for Ali to convince Leland that when it was just the two of them at home alone, their sharing a cup or two of midmorning coffee wasn’t some terrible breach of employer/employee etiquette.

“Yes, please,” Ali said, rising from the desk as he placed the tray on the coffee table set in front of the burning gas-log fireplace. Before she could settle into one of the room’s two upholstered wingback chairs, she had to move her recently acquired miniature dachshund, Bella, to one side.

Bella, an unexpected wedding surprise, had been found abandoned in a hotel parking lot in Las Vegas. Ali and B. Simpson, her new husband, had taken time away from their wedding activities to locate the dog’s owner, a woman named Harriet Reid. After suffering a debilitating stroke, Harriet had left her beloved dog in the care of her ne’er-do-well son, Martin, who not only had mistreated the dog—locking her in a closet by day and in his garage by night—but also had abandoned her, shoving the terrified creature out of a moving vehicle and speeding away in the midst of a busy parking lot. Only lightning-quick action on the part of Ali’s grandson, Colin, had saved the dog from certain death.

At the time Bella was found, she’d had no collar or tag, but she had been chipped. Unfortunately, the phone number listed in the chip company’s records led to a disconnected telephone line. Undaunted, B. had utilized the talents of his second in command at High Noon Enterprises, Stuart Ramey, to locate the dog’s ailing owner. In the process, they discovered that not only had the son mistreated the dog left in his care, he also was systematically emptying his mother’s bank accounts. An anonymous tip to an elder abuse hotline had put a stop to that.

Bella had been part of B. and Ali’s family for just under three months. In the beginning, unused to having a short dog underfoot, they’d had to resort to putting a bell on her collar. With persistent effort, they had convinced her to spend at least part of the night sleeping on a chair positioned next to their bed rather than in the bed itself. During the day, Bella’s preferred place to be was on a chair anywhere her people were. In this case, since Ali was working in the library, Bella was there, too.

With Bella’s long body stretched out between Ali’s thigh and the arm of the chair, Ali waited while Leland poured coffee. She noticed that his hand shook slightly as he passed the cup and saucer. The delicately shaped Limoges Beleme cup jiggled a bit, but not so much that any of the coffee spilled into the saucer.

Ali was glad Leland had seen fit to use her “good” dishes. Her mother’s good china had been displayed but mostly untouched from the time her parents married until they moved into an active-retirement community. At that time the whole set, with only a single dinner plate missing, had been passed along to their grandson, Ali’s son, Christopher. Chris and his wife, Athena, with two young twins in the house, didn’t use their inherited dishes for everyday, either. Ali suspected the set would be passed on to yet another generation still mostly unbroken and unused.

Leland, seeming to notice the tremor, too, frowned as he set his own jittering cup and saucer down on the glass-topped table.

“Sorry about having the shakes like that,” he muttered self-consciously. “Comes with age, I suppose.”

“It does,” Ali said with a smile as Leland settled into the matching chair opposite her own. “In that case, you’ve earned those tremors in spades.”

In a very real way, eighty something Leland had come with the house on Manzanita Hills Road in Sedona, Arizona. He had served in the same majordomo capacity for decades for the house’s two previous owners, Anna Lee Ashcroft, and her troubled daughter, Arabella. When Ali had purchased the aging midcentury modern home with the intention of rehabbing it, Leland had stayed on to oversee the complicated task of bringing the place back to its original glory. That remodeling project was now years in the past. Once it was completed, Leland had also played a vital role in creating the lush English garden out front—a garden Anna Lee had once envisioned but never managed to bring to fruition.

Years past what should have been retirement age, Leland simply refused to be put out to pasture. Ali had seen to it that the heavy lifting of cleaning and gardening were now done by younger folks. Leland stayed on, making sure those jobs were done to his stringent standards, but he had yet to relinquish control of his personally custom-designed kitchen to anyone else. There Leland Brooks still reigned supreme.

“How’s it going?” he asked.

Ali glanced over her shoulder at the scatter of files that littered her desk. They contained information on students from various Verde Valley high schools, all of whom had been nominated as possible recipients of that year’s Amelia Dougherty Scholarship. The scholarship was named in honor of Anna Lee Ashcroft’s mother, and students receiving those highly sought awards would have the benefit of a four-year full-ride scholarship to the in-state institution of higher learning of their choice. Years earlier Ali herself had been the first-ever recipient of an Amelia Dougherty Scholarship. Now, through a strange set of circumstances, she was in charge of administering the program from which she had once benefited.

The rules of the award stated that the recipient had to have graduated from a high school in the Verde Valley. At the time Ali had been granted her award, there had been only one of those—Mingus Mountain High in Cottonwood. Now there were three, all of them with scores of deserving students.

Knowing that she held the futures of some of those students in her hands, Ali took her selection responsibilities seriously. In the beginning, Amelia Dougherty scholarships had been awarded to female students only. Ali had widened the scope to include both boys and girls, making her selection task that much more complicated.

Teachers at the various schools were encouraged to nominate students for the award. Once the recipient was chosen, he or she would be invited to tea at Ali’s home—usually toward the end of March or early in April—to receive the award in the same way Ali had been given hers, at a celebratory afternoon tea. Awarding the scholarships that early in the academic year gave recipients who might otherwise not have attempted to enroll in college a chance to do so. In the past several years Ali had expanded the tea attendees to include as many previous recipients as were able to attend.

This year a total of seventy-three nominations had come through the application pipeline. Leland, operating as Ali’s boots-on-the-ground intel agent, had tracked down information on all the nominees and she had winnowed those down to the twenty-four files that were now on her desk. Ali had spent days conducting personal interviews with the last ten finalists. This morning she had been up for hours poring over the individual files. All the students were deserving. Much as she wanted to help all of them, there was a limited amount of money at her disposal. One by one she had moved most of the files into what she called the “almost but not quite” heap. At this point only two remained in the semifinal category.

“It’s been slow going,” she admitted, “but I’m almost there.”

On the surface, Sedona was considered to be both a tourist mecca as well as an enclave of privilege, but the downturn in the economy had taken a huge bite out of the tourism industry in Sedona just as it had everywhere else. The people who had been hit hardest were the “locals”—the blue-collar workers who waited tables, cleaned hotel rooms, tended bars, manicured yards, and worked in kitchens. Many had lost their livelihoods, their homes, and, in some cases, all hopes for their children’s futures. Ali had it within her power to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Leland nodded sympathetically. “I don’t envy your having to choose,” he said, “but results are the final judge. Your previous choices have been nothing short of remarkable.”

That was true. Ali’s very first scholarship recipient had graduated magna cum laude and was now a second-year teacher down in Phoenix. The next year’s choice, due to graduate in May, had already been accepted into law school, having found additional scholarships to help pay for her graduate studies. None of Ali’s recipients had dropped out of school, and they had all maintained high enough GPAs to continue in the program from year to year. Two were working on nursing and premed programs at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

“Any front-runners at the moment?” Leland asked.

Ali stood up, retrieved the two semifinalist folders, and sat back down with them in hand.

“Natalie Droman,” she said, reading the name off the top file.

Leland nodded knowledgeably. “The girl from Cottonwood whose father has been diagnosed with ALS. Considering your own history with ALS, that’s only to be expected. On the other hand, Natalie is an exceptional student regardless of what’s going on in her family.”

Years earlier, long before Ali had met Leland, her best friend from high school, Misty Irene Bernard, had died in a one-car motor vehicle accident when her aging Yukon had taken a deadly plunge off a snowbound cliff on Schnebly Hill Road. Because Reenie had been diagnosed with ALS a short time prior to the incident, her death had been categorized as a suicide until Ali had managed to prove otherwise.

She looked questioningly at Leland. “You have an encyclopedic knowledge of each of these kids, don’t you?”

“I do my best,” he agreed.

“And you’re right,” Ali added. “Natalie is an exceptional student.”

“And the other one?”

Ali smiled and waved the remaining file in Leland’s direction. “That would be your personal favorite, I presume,” she answered. “Mr. Raphael Fuentes.”

Athena, Ali’s daughter-in-law who taught math at Sedona High School, had been the first of three teachers to nominate Raphael. His parents were divorced. His mother, left with three kids to raise, struggled to make ends meet with the help of sporadic child support and what she earned working as a receptionist in a small insurance agency. Raphael’s father, whose engineering career and income had been seriously impacted by “outsourcing” was, as a result, unable to help his son financially, but he was nonetheless in the picture enough to pressure Raphael about going after an engineering degree.

There were several serious problems with that. Although Raphael was a good kid, his math skills were mediocre at best, and he had zero interest in engineering. His heart’s desire was to attend Cordon Bleu and become a chef, a goal that his mother liked but couldn’t help him achieve and one his father regarded with derision.

“Considering your own history,” Ali added, mimicking what Leland had said earlier, “it’s not too surprising that you’d be rooting for Raphael.”

Leland Brooks knew as much as anyone about swimming against the tide of parental disapproval. His interest in cooking wasn’t the only reason he had joined the Royal Marines as soon as he was old enough to sign up. He had spent most of the Korean War serving as a cook and had devoted his lifetime since then to honing his cooking skills and using them to good effect.

“I would like the lad to have an opportunity to better himself,” Leland said. “But, of course, your policy has always been that the scholarships go to students attending a state-run college or university. Unfortunately, even though there’s a Cordon Bleu branch in Scottsdale, it’s nonetheless a private institution.”

“It is private,” Ali agreed. “But it’s also a two-year program as opposed to a four-year one, making the total cash outlay not that different.”

“I’m sorry,” Leland apologized. “I shouldn’t presume to lobby one way or the other.”

“Why not?” Ali said with a laugh. “You’ve been part of this process since the very beginning, first for Anna Lee and Arabella and lately for me. Why shouldn’t I have the benefit of your opinion?”

“It’s not my place,” he said.

“It is if I say so,” Ali countered. “So how about if you set about issuing invitations to the tea?”

“Invitations as in plural?” Leland inquired.

“Yes,” Ali said, making up her mind. “You’ve convinced me. This year we’ll award two scholarships—one to Natalie and one to Raphael.”

“Excellent,” Leland said enthusiastically, standing up and gathering the coffee cups. “I’ll consult your calendar and see to it right away. I assume you’d like me to use the Montblanc stationery Mr. Simpson gave you for Christmas?”

“Yes, please,” she said. “And use my pen, too. You’re far better at using fountain pens than I am.”

Ali’s cell phone rang just then, and her daughter-in-law’s name appeared in the caller ID screen.

“Hey, Athena,” Ali said when she answered. “What’s up?”

“I need your help.” Ali was surprised to hear Athena sounding close to tears. An Iraqi War vet and a double amputee, Ali’s daughter-in-law was not the tearful type.

“Why?” Ali asked. “Is something wrong?”

“I just got off the phone with my grandmother,” Athena said. “Gram has always been my rock. I’ve never heard her as upset as she was just now on the phone.”

“What’s going on?”

“Gram says someone tried to kill her last night. Someone came into her house while she was asleep. They turned on the gas burners on her kitchen stove without lighting them. The whole house filled up with gas. If it hadn’t been for Princess, Gram’s little dog, they both might be dead by now.”

“Look,” Ali said, “if we’re talking attempted homicide here, your grandmother needs to report the incident to a local law enforcement agency and let them investigate it.”

“That’s part of the problem,” Athena answered. “She already did that—at least she tried to. They pretty much told her she’s nuts. They claim she’s so old and frail that she probably turned the burners on herself and doesn’t remember doing it. They didn’t even bother sending someone out to check for prints. You’ve met Gram. Did she strike you as nuts?”

Ali did know Athena’s grandmother. In fact, Betsy Peterson was the only member of Athena’s family who had bothered to show up for Chris and Athena’s wedding. Athena was estranged from her parents, Jim and Sandra, who, in the aftermath of Athena’s divorce, had, for some strange reason, cast their lot with their former son-in-law along with his new wife and baby.

The summer following Chris and Athena’s wedding, soon after discovering they were expecting, the newlyweds had taken a trip to Minnesota. Ali had hoped that the visit, including the prospect of the fast-approaching arrival of grandchildren, would help smooth over whatever had caused the estrangement. The hoped-for reconciliation hadn’t happened, and the arrival of the twins had made no difference in the status quo, either. Ali had never been made privy to the gory details of the trip to Bemidji. Once Chris and Athena returned to Sedona, they had been completely closemouthed about it. Ali gathered from their silence on the topic that things had been difficult, but she had resisted the temptation to pry.

“That’s the other part of the problem,” Athena continued. “Donald Olson, the Beltrami County sheriff, and my folks are great pals. They went all through school together, and they belong to the same Rotary group. That might influence the way the incident is being treated. Do you think you could speak to Sheriff Olson and find out what the deal is?”

“It’s not my place,” Ali said.

“Please,” Athena begged. “Can’t you just say that you’re my mother-in-law. I’m concerned about Gram, but since I’m stuck in school and can’t call, I told Gram I’d ask you to do it for me. Besides, it’s true. I can’t call. I have to get back to class.”

“What’s the name of the county again?” Ali asked.


“Give me your grandmother’s number, then,” Ali conceded. “I should probably talk to her about this before I go poking my nose into a hornet’s nest.”

Athena reeled off the number. Ali jotted it down on the outside of Raphael Fuentes’s file folder. After hanging up, she sat with the phone in her hand for some time before finally breaking down and punching in the number.

“Athena?” Betsy asked when she answered the phone. She sounded anxious.

“No,” Ali explained. “It’s Ali Reynolds, Athena’s mother-in-law. We met at the wedding.”

“Of course,” Betsy said. “I remember you. When I saw the unfamiliar number on caller ID, I thought maybe Athena was calling me back from a phone at school.”

“I just finished speaking with her,” Ali replied. “She told me a little about what happened last night. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“If the local authorities won’t lift a finger, I can’t imagine what you can do from all the way down there in Arizona.”

There were no awkward pauses in Betsy’s replies. If she was operating with a few screws missing, Ali would have thought there’d be at least a momentary bit of confusion or hesitation about who Ali was or where she was. Ali had been impressed by the woman when she had met and interacted with her at the wedding. Betsy Peterson had seemed sharp enough back then, and Ali’s first impression now was that she hadn’t lost any ground.

“What do the local authorities say?” Ali asked.

“They insist I’ve lost my marbles. They claim I turned on the gas burners on my own stove my own darned self and never bothered to light them. The deputy they sent out overnight somehow got the idea in his head that I had tried to use the stove-top burners to warm up the house—something I would never do, by the way. Even if I had been that dim, I certainly would have been smart enough to light them. I’ve had that same stove top for almost thirty years, from back when my husband and I first moved in here. It’s the stove Alton insisted we get for that very reason—that there were no pilot lights. The burners all have to be lit by hand. I hated them then, and I hate them now, but there’s no sense tossing the stove out on the scrap heap since it still works perfectly.”

“It’s cold there, I take it?” Ali asked.

“Not that cold,” Betsy answered. “It’ll probably get all the way up to the twenties today, but we had a blizzard last night, so we’ve got at least six inches of new snow on the ground.”

In the twenties with six inches of snow sounded cold to Ali. “But not so cold that you would have turned the burners on to warm the place up?”

“I have central heating and cooling,” Betsy replied indignantly. “Doesn’t anyone understand that? Why on earth would I try heating the house with the burners on the kitchen stove. It makes no sense at all. It’s not something I would do.”

“You said it snowed. If someone came and left, wouldn’t he have left tracks?”

“The snow was just starting when I got home from bingo. If there were any other tracks, they’re completely covered over. The only tracks Deputy Severson seemed to be interested in were mine. He was all hot and bothered that I went outside in the snow in my bare feet. I was afraid the house was going to be blown to smithereens, but he thought I should go back to the bedroom to put shoes on? My idea was to get the hell out.”

According to Athena, her grandmother was a plainspoken woman. That appeared to be true. “Did anyone come back this morning to investigate?”

“They did not, even though I begged them to please, please send someone out first thing this morning to dust for prints or collect DNA. Sheriff Olson told me that would be a waste of time. He made it sound as though I had made the whole thing up. After all, since I had enough presence of mind to turn the burners off before I went outside, the gas was long gone by the time Deputy Severson showed up. The way that man—the sheriff—spoke to me, I wanted to reach through the phone lines and wring his scrawny neck. Why on earth would I grab my dog and go running barefoot out of the house into a snowy yard if I hadn’t been scared to death? And what did he expect me to do, leave the gas running until one of his slowpoke deputies managed to get himself over here?”

Betsy’s umbrage at being told she was imagining things hummed through the phone.

“Do you know of anyone who would wish you harm?”

Betsy thought about that for several seconds before she answered. “About a year ago I had a disagreement with Sarah Baxter over the way she handled the glasses after Communion. After Sarah’s turn at cleaning up, the next time I set out the Communion glasses some of them still had lipstick smears on them. It was unsanitary. I took her aside and told her that if she wasn’t prepared to do the job properly, she shouldn’t volunteer to do it at all. I tried to keep the matter private, but she took offense and turned the whole thing into World War Three. She ended up getting the entire congregation up in arms.”

Nothing like a little “neighbor loving thy neighbor” to keep things interesting at church, Ali thought.

“But that’s all water under the bridge now,” Betsy continued. “I regret to say that Pastor Anders had to be called in to settle things. It turns out Sarah was having problems with cataracts and so was I. We both decided to resign from the Communion Committee and that took care of that.”

“It doesn’t sound like the kind of issue that would cause someone to break into your house and try to do you in.”

“Sarah is out of town at the moment, so it couldn’t have been her,” Betsy said. “Besides, there was no break-in involved. I have no idea how the criminal or criminals got in or out of my house.”

“Do you have an alarm?”


“Was it set?”

Betsy sighed. “No, it wasn’t,” she admitted. “My son would have a conniption fit if he knew I turned it off when I got home and left it off when I went to bed. When Princess needs to go out overnight, the last thing I need is to have that blasted alarm shrieking at us the whole time she’s out in the yard trying to pee.”

“So maybe whoever came into the house followed you inside when you first came home and then let themselves out again after you fell asleep. What kind of dog?”

“Princess is a dachshund,” Betsy replied, “a sweet little wiener dog.”

Ali remembered Athena’s mentioning something about her grandmother having a dog that was a near look-alike to Bella. “Did Princess bark at all last night?”

“Not really. She whimpered rather than barked when she smelled the gas. At least, I think that’s what woke her up, and that’s when she woke me up. She’s fourteen. Like me, she’s probably more than a little deaf. Fortunately her sense of smell hasn’t gone the way of her hearing. Now that you mention it, Princess did bark at Deputy Severson once he showed up.” She paused and then added plaintively, “Do you believe me?”

Ali thought about it and then nodded to herself. “Yes,” she agreed aloud. “I think I do.”

“Thank you for that,” Betsy said with a grateful sigh. “Thank you so much. You have no idea what a boost that is. I was beginning to think that maybe everybody else was right, and I was starting to go bonkers.”

There was a buzz in Ali’s ear—probably a call-waiting signal on Betsy’s phone rather than Ali’s.

“Sorry,” Betsy said. “I have to take this, but thank you. Athena was so right to have you call me. You’ve been a huge help, even from that far away.”

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: J.A. Jance
Author's Blog: J.A. Jance - NYT Bestselling Author
Twitter: @JAJance
E-Mail: jajance@jance.com
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Author Description: J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; four interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and eight books featuring Ali Reynolds.

As a second-grader in Mrs. Spangler’s Greenway School class, I was introduced to Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series. I read the first one and was hooked and knew, from that moment on, that I wanted to be a writer.

The third child in a large family, I was four years younger than my next older sister and four years older than the next younger sibling. Being both too young and too old left me alone in a crowd and helped turn me into an introspective reader and a top student. When I graduated from Bisbee High School in 1962, I received an academic scholarship that made me the first person in my family to attend a four year college. I graduated in 1966 with a degree in English and Secondary Education. In 1970 I received my M. Ed. In Library Science. I taught high school English at Tucson’s Pueblo High School for two years and was a K-12 librarian at Indian Oasis School District in Sells, Arizona for five years.

My ambitions to become a writer were frustrated in college and later, first because the professor who taught creative writing at the University of Arizona in those days thought girls "ought to be teachers or nurses" rather than writers. After he refused me admission to the program, I did the next best thing: I married a man who was allowed in the program that was closed to me. My first husband imitated Faulkner and Hemingway primarily by drinking too much and writing too little. Despite the fact that he was allowed in the creative writing program, he never had anything published either prior to or after his death from chronic alcoholism at age forty-two. That didn’t keep him from telling me, however, that there would be only one writer in our family, and he was it.

My husband made that statement in 1968 after I had received a favorable letter from an editor in New York who was interested in publishing a children’s story I had written. Because I was a newly wed wife who was interested in staying married, I put my writing ambitions on hold. Other than writing poetry in the dark of night when my husband was asleep (see After the Fire), I did nothing more about writing fiction until eleven years later when I was a single, divorced mother with two children and no child support as well as a full time job selling life insurance. My first three books were written between four a.m. and seven a.m.. At seven, I would wake my children and send them off to school. After that, I would get myself ready to go sell life insurance.

I started writing in the middle of March of 1982. The first book I wrote, a slightly fictionalized version of a series of murders that happened in Tucson in 1970, was never published. For one thing, it was twelve hundred pages long. Since I was never allowed in the creative writing classes, no one had ever told me there were some things I needed to leave out. For another, the editors who turned it down said that the parts that were real were totally unbelievable, and the parts that were fiction were fine. My agent finally sat me down and told me that she thought I was a better writer of fiction than I was of non-fiction. Why, she suggested, didn’t I try my hand at a novel?

The result of that conversation was the first Detective Beaumont book, Until Proven Guilty. Since 1985 when that was published, there have been 21 more Beau books. My work also includes 14 Joanna Brady books set in southeastern Arizona where I grew up, and seven Ali Reynolds books, set in Sedona, AZ. In addition there are four thrillers, starting with Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, that reflect what I learned during the years when I was teaching on the Tohono O’Odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona.

The week before Until Proven Guilty was published, I did a poetry reading of After the Fire at a widowed retreat sponsored by a group called WICS (Widowed Information Consultation Services) of King County. By June of 1985, it was five years after my divorce in 1980 and two years after my former husband’s death. I went to the retreat feeling as though I hadn’t quite had my ticket punched and didn’t deserve to be there. After all, the other people there were all still married when their spouses died. I was divorced. At the retreat I met a man whose wife had died of breast cancer two years to the day and within a matter of minutes of the time my husband died. We struck up a conversation based on that coincidence. Six months later, to the dismay of our five children, we told the kids they weren’t the Brady Bunch, but they'd do, and we got married. We now have four new in-laws as well as six grandchildren.

When my second husband and I first married, he supported all of us–his kids and mine as well as the two of us. It was a long time before my income from writing was anything more than fun money–the Improbable Cause trip to Walt Disney World; the Minor in Possession memorial powder room; the Payment in Kind memorial hot tub. Eventually, however, the worm turned. My husband was able to retire at age 54 and took up golf and oil painting.

One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that everything–even the bad stuff–is usable. The eighteen years I spent while married to an alcoholic have helped shape the experience and character of Detective J. P. Beaumont. My experiences as a single parent have gone into the background for Joanna Brady–including her first tentative steps toward a new life after the devastation of losing her husband in Desert Heat. And then there’s the evil creative writing professor in Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, but that’s another story.

Another wonderful part of being a writer is hearing from fans. I learned on the reservation that the ancient, sacred charge of the storyteller is to beguile the time. I’m thrilled when I hear that someone has used my books to get through some particularly difficult illness either as a patient or as they sit on the sidelines while someone they love is terribly ill. It gratifies me to know that by immersing themselves in my stories, people are able to set their own lives aside and live and walk in someone else’s shoes. It tells me I’m doing a good job at the best job in the world.

Author's Book List
A Last Goodbye
Ali Reynolds is finally getting married to her longtime love B. Simpson. They wanted a simple Christmas Eve wedding, but nothing is ever simple with Ali. Even as a motley crew of her friends—Leland Brooks, Sister Anselm, and others—descend on Vegas, the bride-to-be finds herself juggling last-minute wedding plans and a mystery in the form of a stray miniature dachshund. Ali’s grandson rescues the little dog, but Ali’s not in the market for a new pet right before her honeymoon, and leaves no stone unturned in hunting for the dog’s owner. But what she finds is more than just a shaggy dog story…Bella’s elderly owner has vanished, and her son seems to be behind it. So it’s Ali and B. to the rescue—and still making it to the church on time!

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Remains of Innocence - Joanna Brady Mysteries Book 16
Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that may be tied together 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 and mystery.

An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In cleaning out her house, her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines that crowd every corner.

Tracing the money’s origins will take Liza on a journey that will end in Cochise County, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own. A man she considers a family friend is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern near Bisbee. And now there is the mystery of Liza and the money. Are the two disparate cases connected? It’s up to Joanna to find out.

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The Old Blue Line - – A Joanna Brady Novella
Butch Dixon has been taken for a ride …

Not a jump in the car, see the sights kind of ride. He's been taken for everything he has. He's lost his house, his restaurant business, his savings, his car, his best friend, his faith—all to his conniving ex-wife. But that was seven years ago. He picked himself up, left Chicago, and started over in Peoria, Arizona, running the Roundhouse Bar and Grill. He doesn't look back on those bad years; there's no point. Not until two curious cops show up at the Roundhouse.

Faith, Butch's ex-wife, has been murdered, and the evidence points to him. Stunned, Butch quickly realizes that the black-hearted woman is going to ruin him again, from her grave. Lucky for Butch, the Old Blue Line, a group of retired—but still sharp and tenacious—former legal and law enforcement coots, have taken it upon themselves, as a favor, to make sure he doesn't cross that thin line. After the dust settles, Butch's life is again upended—when a little red-haired ball of fire, Sheriff Joanna Brady, takes a seat at his bar.

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Moving Target - A Novel -Ali Reynolds
When police academy-trained former reporter Ali Reynolds embarks on a trip to England with her longtime household assistant and right-hand man Leland Brooks, her greatest concern is helping her friend face his long-estranged family. Yet, Ali soon finds herself investigating violent crimes spanning two continents and eras—as vicious attacks unfold in Texas and an unsolved murder from 1950s Bournemouth, Leland’s hometown, resurfaces.

Near Austin, Lance Tucker, an incarcerated juvenile offender and talented computer hacker, is set on fire and severely burned while hanging Christmas decorations in the rec room. Ali’s fiancé, B. Simpson, is founder of the high-tech security company High Noon Enterprises, which helped put Lance in lockup. B. feels obliged to get to the bottom of what happened and, with Ali otherwise occupied overseas, turns to someone else to help out: Ali’s good friend and Taser-carrying nun, Sister Anselm.

Meanwhile, Ali crosses paths with some unsavory characters with plenty to hide when she begins to investigate the decades-old, cold case murder of Jonah Brooks, Leland’s father. The two cases of Brooks and Lance Tucker seem unconnected and faraway at first, separated by time and an ocean—until Ali nearly fatally veers off of an English roadway at the mercy of an unidentified man interested in Lance Tucker’s computer hacking skills. It is clear that B. isn’t the only one captivated by Lance’s ability to surf the “dark web” unnoticed.

With unsolved murders on both sides of the Atlantic, Moving Target finds Ali, B., and Sister Anselm united again in sleuthing—and in mortal danger.

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After the Fire
I’m sure more than a few of the dyed-in-the wool mystery readers are thinking–a book of poetry? What’s she smoking? Why would I want to read POETRY? With After the Fire, you’ll get a no-holds-barred view of the emotional forge that turned me into who I am. If my pen name wasn’t J.A. Jance, I might have to opt for Phoenix Jance, because the person I am today rose from those ashes. After the Fire is my autobiography, but reading it will give you some insights into the origins of some of my characters, too, as well as an understanding about the themes of some of my books. The cover is lovely. It looks like an all-occasion-greeting card for people in tough circumstances, whose lives are being adversely impacted by drugs and alcohol or by the loss of a spouse to death or divorce. It’s also a book that comes with a real message of hope. It would be WONDERFUL, if that little book of poetry managed to outstrip ALL of the publisher’s expectations! And for those of you who do audio books, I spent yesterday recording the audio version of After the Fire, and that should also be available on September 10. That way you can go to a poetry reading in the privacy of your own iTunes account!

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Second Watch - A J. P. Beaumont Novel
With Second Watch, New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance delivers another thought-provoking novel of suspense starring Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont.

Getting old is hell! J. P. Beaumont is finally taking some time off to have his knee replacement surgery. But instead of taking his mind off work, the operation plunges him into one of the most perplexing and mind-blowing mysteries he's ever faced.

A series of dreams take him back to his early days on the force at Seattle P.D. and then, even earlier, to his days in Vietnam, reminding him of people and events he hasn't thought about in years.

His past collides with his present in this complex and thrilling story that explores loss and heartbreak, duty and honor, and, most importantly, the staggering cost of war and the debts we owe those who served in the Vietnam War, and those in uniform today.

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Judgment Call - A Brady Novel of Suspense
The New York Times bestselling master of mystery and suspense, J.A. Jance—whom the Chattanooga Times ranks “among the best, if not the best”—brings back her enormously popular series protagonist, Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady.

With Judgment Call, Jance achieves a new high in crime fiction, as Brady wrestles with her conflicting roles of law officer and mother when her daughter discovers the murdered body of the local high school principal, and the ensuing investigation reveals secrets no parent wants to hear. At once a breathtaking recreation of the rugged landscape of the American Southwest, a moving story of a mother’s concerns for her endangered child, and thrilling masterwork of brutal crime and expert detection, Judgment Call is prime J.A. Jance, a treat for anyone who loves a good cop story wrapped around a superior family drama.

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Deadly Stakes: A Novel - Ali Reynolds
A thrilling mystery from New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance starring Ali Reynolds, who finds herself working against the police to clear two innocent names…with deadly stakes.

In Deadly Stakes, police academy-trained former reporter Ali Reynolds is contacted to investigate the grisly murder of a gold-digging divorcee on behalf of a woman accused of the crime. Lynn Martinson is dating the dead woman’s ex-husband, and she and her boyfriend Chip Ralston have been charged.

Ali is simultaneously drawn to the case of A.J. Sanders, a frightened teen with secrets of his own. He’s the first to find the body in the Camp Verde desert when he goes to retrieve a mysterious buried box hidden by his absent father—a box that turns out to be filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in poker chips.

When the body of an ex-con is discovered near the first crime scene, Ali struggles to determine if A.J. and Lynn’s cases are related. Though her friends in the police department grow increasingly irritated by her involvement with the cases, Ali must stop a deadly killer from claiming another victim…before she herself is lost in this game of deadly stakes.

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Left for Dead - Ali Reynolds Mysteries
Not even Ali Reynolds is immune to the escalating drug wars just across the border as two ruthless crimes threaten to bring her face-to-face with a cold-blooded killer.

When one of Ali’s former Arizona Police Academy classmates is gunned down and left to die, he is at first assumed to be an innocent victim of the violent drug cartels. But the crime scene investigation reveals there’s much more to the story. Summoned to his hospital bedside, Ali finds it hard to believe he’s mixed up in the drug trade, and she also meets another seriously injured victim—an unidentified young woman, presumed to be an illegal border crosser, who was raped and savagely beaten. Ali is determined to seek justice in both cases. But as she zeroes in on the truth, the real killer is lining her up in the crosshairs. . . .

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Birds of Prey
The Starfire Breeze steams its way north toward the Gulf of Alaska, buffeted by crisp sea winds blowing down from the Arctic. Those on board are seeking peace, relaxation, adventure, escape. But there is no escape in this place of unspoiled natural majesty. Because terror strolls the decks even in the brilliant light of day . . . and death is a conspicuous, unwelcome passenger. Former Seattle policeman J.P. Beaumont—a damaged homicide detective who has come here to heal from fresh, stinging wounds—will find that the grim ghosts pursuing him were not left behind . . . as a pleasure cruise gone horribly wrong carries him into lethal, ever-darkening waters.

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Paradise Lost - A Brady Novel of Suspense
The desecrated body of a missing Phoenix heiress lies naked, lifeless, and abandoned in the desolate beauty and lonely terror of the high desert night. A hideous crime is inviting death once more into Sheriff Joanna Brady's world. But this time the nightmares of her professional and personal lives are intertwining in ways too awful to contemplate, because one corpse is only the first piece in a twisted and sinister puzzle in which nothing seems to fit. And the next item on a killer's bloody agenda may well be Brady's own beloved daughter.

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Exit Wounds - Brady Novels
The intense desert heat has brought horror to a small corner of the Southwest. A body lies lifeless in an airless trailer, surrounded by seventeen others. It is a crime unspeakable in its conception and execution—a nightmare strangely connected to a grisly slaughter in a neighboring state, where the corpses of two women are found tied up, naked, and gruesomely posed on a rancher's land. A day that started out hot has already turned blistering for Joanna Brady, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, for terror has moved into her small town to stay. And the nightmare will not end until she uncovers the roots of a monstrous obsession buried somewhere in the most frightening dark shadows of the past.

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Edge of Evil - Alison Reynold
With a divorce from her cheating husband of ten years pending and her high-profile broadcasting career abruptly ended by TV executives who wanted a "younger face," Alison Reynolds feels there's nothing keeping her in LA any longer. Summoned back home to Sedona, Arizona, by the death of a childhood friend, she seeks solace in the comforting rhythms of her parents' diner, the Sugarloaf Café, and launches an on-line blog as therapy for others who have been similarly cut loose.

But when threatening posts begin appearing, Ali finds out that running a blog is far more up-close and personal—and far more dangerous—than sitting behind a news desk. Suddenly something dark and deadly is swirling around her life. And now Ali is a target…and marked for death.

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Breach of Duty - A J. P. Beaumont Novel
The end of the old woman's long life came suddenly. She died in her home, torched to death by a fiend with an unknown motive. While Seattle is undergoing unwelcome upscale change, it is strictly on the surface, as the Grim Reaper still lives in the shadows of the city. And it falls to Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont and his new partner, Sue Danielson, to get to the bottom of his latest handiwork. But the trail will lead to places and events that will leave two police officers and their cases shattered—and nothing will ever be the same again.

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Betrayal of Trust - J. P. Beaumont #19
“Murder, teenage bullying, sleazy adults, and good police work add up to another fine entry by Jance.” —The Oklahoman

Betrayal of Trust is the twentieth mystery by New York Times bestseller J.A. Jance to feature Seattle p.i. J. P. Beaumont—and it is another surefire winner from the author the Chattanooga Times calls, “One of the best—if not the best.” When Beau discovers a snuff film recorded on a smart phone—a horrific crime that has a devastating effect on two troubled teens—his investigation unleashes a firestorm that blazes all the way up through the halls of Washington state government. Betrayal of Trust is certain to win this phenomenal crime fiction master (“In the elite company of Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell”—Flint Journal) a wealth of new fans while enthralling the army of devoted readers already addicted to the potent Jance magic.

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Payment in Kind - A J.P. Beaumont Novel
A riveting novel of dark secrets and murderous rage featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

In death, they were entwined like lovers—a man and a woman hideously slaughtered, then stuffed into a closet in the Seattle School District building. But what appears a cut-and-dried crime of passion, complete with an ideal prime suspect, goes deeper than investigating detective J.P. Beaumont could ever have imagined. For an accused betrayed husband is keeping something shocking carefully hidden, a terrifying truth that’s hotter and more sordid than extramarital sex. And some secrets are more lethal than murder.

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Fatal Error: A Novel
New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance delivers another pulse-pounding tale of suspense where no one is safe from a . . .FATAL ERROR.

Ali Reynolds begins the summer thinking her most difficult challenge will be surviving a six-week- long course as the lone forty-something female at the Arizona Police Academy—not to mention taking over the 6:00 AM shift at her family’s restaurant while her parents enjoy a long overdue Caribbean cruise. However, when Brenda Riley, a colleague from Ali’s old news broadcasting days in California, shows up in town with an alcohol problem and an unlikely story about a missing fiancé, Ali reluctantly agrees to help.

The man posing as Brenda’s fiancé is revealed to be Richard Lowensdale, a cyber-sociopath who has left a trail of broken hearts in his virtual wake. When he is viciously murdered, the women he once victimized are considered suspects. The police soon focus their investigation on Brenda, who is already known to have broken into Richard’s home and computer before vanishing without a trace. Attempting to clear her friend’s name, Ali is quickly drawn into a web of online intrigue that may lead to a real-world fatal error.

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Minor in Possession - A J.P. Beaumont Novel
A gripping story of buried truths, deceit, and sudden, brutal death featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont fromthe New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

Minor in Possession

All manner of sinners and sufferers come to the rehab ranch in Arizona when they hit rock bottom. For Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont, there is a deeper level of Hell here: being forced to room with teenage drug dealer Joey Rothman. An all-around punk, Joey deserves neither pity nor tears—until he is murdered by a bullet fired from Beaumont’s gun. Someone has set Beau up brilliantly for a long and terrifying fall, dragging the alcoholic ex-cop into a conspiracy of blood and lies that could cost him his freedom . . . And his life.

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Improbable Cause - A J.P. Beaumont Novel
A spellbinding tale of twisted depravity and blood vengeance featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

Improbable Cause

Perhaps it was fitting justice: a dentist who enjoyed inflicting pain was murdered in his own chair. The question is not who wanted Dr. Frederick Nielsen dead, but rather who of the many finally reached the breaking point. The sordid details of this case, with its shocking revelations of violence, cruelty, and horrific sexual abuse, would be tough for any investigator to stomach. But for Seattle Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont, the most damning piece of the murderous puzzle will shake him to his very core—because what will be revealed to him is nothing less than the true meaning of unrepentant evil.

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A More Perfect Union - J. P. Beaumont Novels
A shattering tale of corruption and homicide featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

More Perfect Union

A shocking photo screamed from the front pages of the tabloids—the last moments of a life captured for all the world to see. The look of sheer terror eternally frozen on the face of the doomed woman indicated that her fatal fall from an upper story of an unfinished Seattle skyscraper was no desperate suicide—and that look will forever haunt Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont. But his hunt for answers and justice is leading to more death, and to dark and terrible secrets scrupulously guarded by men of steel behind the locked doors of a powerful union that extracts its dues payments in blood.

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Dismissed with Prejudice - J. P. Beaumont Novel
A gripping tale of hatred, lies, and deadly traditionfeaturing Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

Dismissed with Prejudice

The blood at the scene belies any suggestion of an “honorable death.” Yet, to the eyes of the Seattle police, a successful Japanese software magnate died exactly as he wished—and by his own hand, according to the ancient rite of seppuku. Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont can’t dismiss what he sees as an elaborate suicide, however, not when something about it makes his flesh crawl. Because small errors in the ritual suggest something darker: a killer who will go to extraordinary lengths to escape detection—a fiend with a less traditional passion . . . For cold-blooded murder.

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Justice Denied - J. P. Beaumont Novel
The murder of an ex-drug dealer ex-con—gunned down on his mother's doorstep—seems just another turf war fatality. Why then has Seattle homicide investigator J.P. Beaumont been instructed to keep this assignment hush-hush? Meanwhile, Beau's lover and fellow cop, Mel Soames, is involved in her own confidential investigation. Registered sex offenders from all over Washington State are dying at an alarming rate—and not all due to natural causes. A metropolis the size of Seattle holds its fair share of brutal crime, corruption, and dirty little secrets. But when the separate trails they're following begin to shockingly intertwine, Beau and Mel realize that they have stumbled onto something bigger and more frightening than they anticipated—a deadly conspiracy that's leading them to lofty places they should not enter . . . and may not be allowed to leave alive.

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