Desert Heat by J.A. Jance
From Publishers Weekly
Jance ( Hour of the Hunter ) has created a taut and poignant mystery. Joanna Brady finds her husband, Andy, shot in the Arizona desert on the night of their tenth wedding anniversary. But this, and Andy's subsequent suspicious death in the hospital, is only the beginning of the destruction of the comfortable world of Joanna and her nine-year-old daughter, Jenny. The police decide that Andy, a sheriff's deputy, tried to commit suicide. He is further implicated as the hit man in a mob rub-out and fingered as a crooked cop with drug-cartel connections. Even his personal life is dragged through the mud, as allegations of an extramarital affair surface. Neither mother nor daughter is spared from the brutality of the accusations: the DEA comes after Joanna, while schoolmates taunt Jenny. All the while, Jance cross-cuts to the contract killer who shot Andy. The conclusion features a classic confrontation, but the post-showdown ending seems trite. Until that moment, however, Jance's tale crackles with tension. Joanna's struggle and pain are affecting; Jance writes with an understanding that character is destiny.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Life is good for Joanna Brady in the small desert community of Bisbee. She has Jenny, her adored nine-year-old daughter, and solid, honest, and loving husband, Andy, a local lawman who's running for Sheriff of Cochise County. But her good life explodes when a bullet destroys Andy Brady's future and leaves him dying beneath the blistering Arizona sun.
The police brass claim that Andy was dirty -- up to his neck in drugs and smuggling -- and that the shooting was a suicide attempt. Joanna knows a... read more
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Hope for better, August 7, 2002
This is the first in the long Sheriff Joanna Brady of Cochise County series. It shows the sad family events that initially pushed Joanna, as the wife of a deputy sheriff, into law enforcement. Joanna is a determined, able, and frank talking woman who must deal with an allegedly suicidal, drug-dealing, and cheating husband. It's not really a "suspense" novel, as personal threats are few and Joanna sorta backs into solving the crime. The story is set up well with empathetic family situations and loyalties, but towards the end the plot goes ratty, a couple of glaring holes in the plot conveniently appearing as Jance races to wrap up the story. I think Jance also severely underplays local Arizona color and ambiance: this novel could be happen anywhere, quite unlike the great specificity and plot drivers of Hillerman or McGarrity's novels that could only be set in New Mexico. I hope Jance gets better in later novels, for this one doesn't generate much heat. For some reason this Avon pb is printed in rather large print, which may contribute to why it's a nicely fast and easy read.