“Damage Control” is the aptly named latest novel in the Arizona Sheriff Joanna Brady series. Much of this novel finds Joanna Brady practicing damage control in one form or another at home and at work.

One of the two central cases in this novel is the aftermath of an elderly couple’s death at the Montezuma Pass Overlook in the Coronado National Forest. The couple died when their fifteen year old Buick Regal rocketed through a guard rail, went airborne, and smashed down the mountain side flipping end over end and ejecting the elderly couple. Cochise County doesn’t have a helicopter and the mountain side is extremely rugged making recovering the bodies very difficult. Especially with a late afternoon storm coming as it is monsoon season.

Elsewhere, those same rains will dislodge a pair of large trash bags from their shallow grave in the Greenbush Draw. They will be moved by the torrent  of water far from their resting place until they are pushed into the scrawny branches of a mesquite tree. The bags will be left behind by the receding waters waiting for somebody to take a peek inside them. The bags will be found by a local boy out scavenging for anything left behind by the many illegals that cross the desert in search of a better life. The young teenager hopes for money or even drugs that he can sell. Instead he finds skeletal remains.

As the two cases strain her small department already dealing with manpower and budgetary issues, Joanna’s home life is becoming increasingly strained as well. Like many a new parent, Joanna Brady is permanently sleep deprived. Dennis is now four months old and while their teenage daughter, Jenny and Joanna’s husband, Butch are a big help, all three are feeling the strain. Butch has a hard deadline to meet in four days for his new novel and really needs to go on a book tour. A book tour is something his publisher is more than willing to do despite the fact that such things are rare especially for a new novelist. And her Mom, Eleanor is acting weirder than normal.

All of these elements combine into a 374 page cozy style novel that is one of the best author J.A. Jance has penned in years. Funny at times and intensely moving towards the end of the book, J. A. Jance writes of sacrifice in so many ways in this latest entry to the series. Along the way, Joanna Brady ties up a couple of aspects of her own life history while helping to resolve current issues. As such, character development is virtually non-existent in this novel and limited to filling in a couple of old questions.

As in any series, it really is best to read these in order. However, if you haven’t, go ahead and grab this latest one. Read it and then go back and see how it all came to be. Reading this one won’t really mess up the others, and you’ll be entertained by a mightily good novel.

Damage Control

J. A. Jance

http://www.jajance.com

William Morrow (Harper Collins)

http://www.harpercollins.com

2008

ISBN# 978-0-06-074676-6

Hardback

374 Pages

$25.95

Review copy provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System

http://www.plano.gov/Departments/Libraries/

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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