Book Review: Damage Control, by J A Jance

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An Author of the Pacific Northwest.

J A  Jance is another long time resident of the Pacific Northwest.  She and her husband now divide their time between Seattle, WA, and Arizona.

Ms. Jance has written so many books, it was hard to pick a first to read.  Damage Control turned out to be a terrific selection.  Book number 13 in the Joanna Brady series, it features Sheriff Joanna Brady, along with her husband Butch, her mother and stepfather, and the officers she serves with.  A very interesting mix of characters combined into a complex mystery. Perhaps it should say mysteries.

A Complicated Story of Murder

The story starts off with a woman killing a home invader she thinks is her abusive ex-boyfriend.  Then fast forward to present day Cochise County, Arizona.  You might expect a quiet, small town from the name.  But not this week. Just when the crew is about to lighten up and get some rest,  people start dying.

An sweet, elderly couple has a lovely little picnic at an overlook, then drives off the cliff, leaving behind a suicide note.  After a heavy rain, a young boy finds a couple of trash bags that might contain something of value.  When he pokes it with a stick,  a skull emerges.  Before the sheriff can get from one scene to the next, a fire takes the life of a disabled man in a mobile home, leaving his wife and two children with only what they are wearing.

A little much for a quiet town, don’t you think?  Still, accidents and suicides happen.

As they begin to investigate each, they find too many unexpected connections.  They discover facts that won’t fit with what they’ve learned so far.  Are the deaths connected?  Are there still more to come?

Does A Sheriff Get a Home Life?

Joanna and her deputies, hunt for answers.  It would seem it isn’t very quiet this week on the home front either with odd things going on.  The sheriff portrays the lives of so many women these days, trying to fulfill her responsibilities at home and at work, with too many to juggle at once.

While she is working days and nights when called, her normally distant mother keeps visiting. She is acting strange and secretive.  The County Medical Examiner happens to be married to her mother, so he too is acting out of character.

She also has a daughter at home and a newborn baby.  Juggling all of that with her career and her husband’s is making her very uncomfortable.Then her husband is asked to go on a two week book tour to promote his new novel.

It’s actually engrossing watching her keep it all together while she tries to stay on top of things. Ms. Jance does a wonderful job of setting up multiple situations, then resolving each one eventually.  There were so many surprises to keep you wondering what would happen next.  The characters are all so likable-well, most of them–you hope everything can work out somehow.  The results are cleverly achieved by the author.

The Author

Ms. Jance has written well over fifty books.  Her longest running series features detective, J P Beaumont.  The twenty-fourth book is due out September 28th.  In it he will be working with new series character, Brandon Walker.  Next is the Joanna Brady series with seventeen books.  Ali Reynolds is her third popular series, with eleven books to date.

Next on my list to read by J A Jance will be a J P Beaumont, since he lives and works in the Pacific Northwest too.

I do recommend the Joanna Brady series.  You quickly start to feel like you are part of the family, anxious to learn more.  Do let me know if you agree when you’ve read one.

Remains of Innocence

The most recent addition to the series is number sixteen, published in July of 2014.  The body of a friend is found at the bottom of a limestone cavern.  Accident or murder?  And then…

A dying old woman, a hoarder, has hidden $100 bills throughout the books and magazines within her crowded home.  As her daughter uncovers more and more bills, she receives a warning that someone is after her.  It sounds like one we won’t want to miss.


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Mystery Suspense Reviews .

Author: Merry Citarella

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