But her determined efforts to hunt down an assassin and clear her husband's name are placing Joanna and her surviving family in harm's way - because in the desert, the one thing more lethal than a rattler's bite...is the truth.
©1993 J. A. Jance; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
Life-long reader, 10 years listening
This series is one of my favorites, and Jance has done a terrific job of introducing Joanna Brady and her friends and family. The book description above is good, so I won't rehash it here. The characters are great, the situation is believable and I highly recommend this book. Ms Huber isn't a great narrator, with a limited range of different voices, but she doesn't make mistakes or have annoying quirks.
Sadly, several of the next few books in the series are available only in abridged format, and you'll want to skip those.
Finding a Joanna Brady book I hadn't read? Wow. And the first one -- really? How did I miss it? But what a happy thing I had missed it -- got to listen to it now for the first time.
I love this series -- I appreciate the whole crowd, not just Joanna, but Jenny (called more formally "Jennifer" in this first book) who's nine years old here, Marianne the minister, Joanna's viper-tongued mother, who reminds me so much of one of my female relatives I listed to those parts over and over, laughing every time. Boy, Miz Jance nails these nasty-mother characters just perfectly. We even meet both dogs, and learn how Tigger came into the family.
And it's here we meet the sadder but wiser Annie Kellogg, too, who plays a big part in several subsequent books. I hadn't realized she'd been there from the start, even her love for birds is shown here. Who knew?
It was fun to see where it all started. And interesting, too, because Jance is unique among authors who have written as many books as she has: this first book and the last ones are equally good. Joanna and the whole crowd age, they go through normal life cycles, but Jance never seems to run out of unique material to occupy them all.
That's unusual. The norm is -- or seems to be -- that after a few books in a series, authors either start to fade away, losing interest in their own characters. Or they struggle to find new situations to mess around with, getting more and more extreme, to the point the books are just no longer interesting. Some authors get better, of course -- like John Sandford. His early Luke Davenport books are very different -- Luke in the beginning is an angry, violent guy, and only over time does he get to be the wisecracking hero, still just as creative and brave, but without the hard edge of anger displayed in the first books. But Joanna? She doesn't change. She's just as smart, dedicated, honest, brave and interesting in the last books as she was in the first.
But now I have indeed read them all. Nothing to do now but wait for new ones!
A 50-something who loves sci-fi, cozy mysteries, thrillers, an occasional romance, and any genre if it is a good story. And especially if it makes me laugh! No vampires or zombies though - these are NOT sci-fi!
I read this book when it first came out in the early 90s, and found it intense and fast-moving. Listening to it seemed to make it more so! Hearing about Joanna's reaction to sudden widow-hood nearly brought me to tears. What a strong woman!
It was mildly entertaining. I was glad to listen to the first in the series and finally understand why the lady became sheriff. The series books I've read and listened to in the past are about the same; mildly entertaining, fairly predictable and just enough of a story to keep you listening.
Glad to finally get the answers since I've read them out of order!
The narrator was good and put a good twist on each character.
Not to run for sheriff!
Yes, since it was recommended to me I feel like I should continue!! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the rest in this series!
Pretty much! It definitely kept me guessing!
I kept feeling as if I had read this book before - many of the pivotal scenes seem to have been "borrowed" from other books in this genre. Several critical plot points rely on hotels, hospitals, airlines, etc. revealing information about their customers. I had to check when the book was written (1993) because this is just not done. It may have happened occasionally in 1993 but I seriously doubt it was standard practice.
None of the characters were the least appealing or likeable to me. The main character - Joanna - was the best of the lot, but her mother and her daughter pushed me beyond the point of tolerance. The mother's conversion at the end, after continuing her badgering judgements when her son-in-law's death was fresh, was not credible.
The narrator was OK during the narrative sections f the book, but terrible at dialogue. The absolute worst was the daughter, Jenny, who sounded like a nasal whiny brat, no matter what she was talking about. In many instances the text described the tone of the character ("slowly," "in a hushed voice," "thoughtfully") but I do not think the narrator changed her characterization a single time. If she was unable to adapt to the book, she should have simply read it all as narrative, as other narrators have done successfully.
I will not be listening to other books by this narrator or this author.
Wanda the artist
I did feel for the young widow, and said go baby, go!
Worth reading. The narrator spoke well for each part.
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