It begins far from Bisbee, Arizona in Great Barrington, Massachusetts where the daughter of a reclusive hoarder is forced to return to the home she hated. Selma Machett’s life is ending and it is up to Liza, as the only living relative around, to deal with the latest installment of a dysfunctional and tragic family. Amidst the filth in the debris filled house she finds a small fortune. A small fortune, primarily in one hundred dollar bills, that belongs to folks determined to get it back regardless of the body count.
That fortune soon puts Liza on the run to Bisbee Arizona where Sheriff Joanna Brady has a complicated and tragic case to solve. Junior Dowdle went missing from his parent’s house after several weeks of increasingly worrisome behavior. Developmentally disabled and in his early sixties, he had recently been diagnosed with some form of dementia that resulted in erratic moods and some violence. Found dead in old mining hole along with a number of dead pets and a clearly tortured but alive kitten, Sheriff Brady believes somebody shoved him into the shaft to fall to the limestone floor twenty feet below. She also believes that same person is responsible for what happened to the pets and will do it all again.
Gradually the two story lines weave together to form a compelling tale of family dysfunction and murder in Remains Of Innocence: A Brady Novel Of Suspense. Scheduled to be released late next month, this latest one in the series by J. A. Jance is another good one. Strong and evolving characters that have become old friends as well as multiple plot lines involving primary and secondary situations that blend action with psychological analysis result in a complicated read that also moves forward at a rapid pace.
The only issue this reader has with the book is the often stated premise that people don’t stare at scarf wearing cancer patients. Shaved bald and wearing a scarf to hide the baldness as cancer patients do, Liza is sent across the country in the custody of various adults so that she can reach her brother in Bisbee. It is stated again and again that no one stares at cancer patients dressed this way and therefore Liz will escape the notice of anyone as she gets rides from various strangers driving 18 wheelers.
As the spouse of a terminal cancer patient who has fought cancer since her initial diagnosis in November 2011 and experienced a horrendous amount of chemotherapy in the months since, the idea that nobody stares at scarf wearing cancer patients could not be further from the truth. The idea is simply ludicrous. Wearing a scarf draws massive amounts of attention these days and, in our experience, is the equivalent of hanging a flashing neon sign around the patient’s neck. Not only is the scarf a massive attention getter, the scarf also creates an invisible force field that often repels all but medical staff and fellow cancer patients. People will actually step back and shield the faces of their children as you pass by as if you are highly contagious all the while staring at you. Some will actually go so far as to get back off the elevator they just got on in front of you because they don’t want to ride up a floor or two with you. Fellow cancer patients will walk up and out of the blue embrace you and talk for a moment before letting you go on your way while other folks cross the sidewalk to be as far away as possible.
This is a very well-known issue for cancer patients and is a frequent topic of discussion during chemotherapy and other multi hour infusion procedures. The reaction of those in public to the appearance of a cancer patient is one that takes considerable time to get used to both for the patient and the family. An otherwise good story was marred by this error which threw this reader out of the story each time it came up.
Other than that issue which was a large stumbling block for this reader, Remains of Innocence: A Brady Novel Of Suspense is a good one.
Remains Of Innocence: A Brady Novel Of Suspense
J. A. Jance
William Morrow (Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers)
July 22, 2014
Hardback (also available as an e-book)
ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014