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Skeleton Canyon by J. A. Jance
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Skeleton Canyon

by J. A. Jance

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Joanna Brady mystery
good — quick read — twists + turns

Brianna "Bree" O'Brien never returned from Skeleton Canyon. Someone brutally murdered the pretty, popular teenager who had stolen away under cover of darkness to rendezvous with her boyfriend. Perhaps youthful rage, jealousy and savage passion cost young Bree her life. Or maybe she stumbled onto something too dangerous to know. Sheriff Joanna Brady of Cochise County knows only too well the pain of losing a loved one to violence. But she is disturbed by the O'Brien's insistence that Bree's boyfriend is responsible for their daughter's slaying. Joanna senses there are words not being spoken, and dark mysteries locked behind doors of the sprawling O'Brien family compound.
  christinejoseph | Sep 16, 2016 |
With this series we’re sometimes told right up front who the bad guy is, name and all. Other times we’re given some insight into the murderer, but don’t know who they are until much later. With this story we’re kept in the dark about the who and why until quite far into the book when looking into the murder of a teenager who’d gone missing.

On the home front, both Joanna and Jenny are dealing with Andy’s death a lot better. It’s at least 9 months since his death. Jenny is especially doing well since getting Kiddo, the horse from the prior book. But Jenny gets taken to Girl Scout Camp for a couple of weeks and Joanna is definitely having an empty-nest-syndrome feeling going on. So it’s a good thing that work is keeping her busy. And speaking of work, things are going better on that front as she’s earned the respect of those who work closest with her. Of course not everyone is on the Sheriff Joanna Brady bandwagon; the first female sheriff in AZ.

As like the earlier books in the series, Joanna pulls together the mystery from conversations with many people instead of through interrogation, and I love that aspect of the books. People aren’t always comfortable talking with her, but she doesn’t grill them, making a huge difference.

We’ve got a mystery, scenery, drama, surprises, and a few scenes that will make you feel good. You’ve heard about how dangerous a sudden rainstorm can be in the desert? We learn why. Another aspect of the series I’m enjoying is the vivid description of the terrain and wildlife of the area.

We’re constantly learning more about the secondary characters and this one is no exception. For some it’s like reading about old friends.

These books could easily be read as stand-alones. There is enough back filler provided without drowning the story in them.

Read from a library book. ( )
  dearheart | Apr 22, 2014 |
I think this is one of the best in series, so far. This book made me laugh (flying bras) and the ending brought tears to my eyes. I enjoy Joanna and her imperfect relationship with her mother. Maybe since her mother got married in this book, Joanna won't be her focus so much. ( )
  dara85 | Jul 28, 2012 |
A bright and beautiful young woman with a very rich papa goes missing and Joanna Brady has to make the decision to treat the case like all the other missing person cases in the county. Wait 24 hours. The tale proceeds to become entangled with smuggling, domestic violence and old crimes. Not my favorite book in the series, I have a hard time reading about this sort of crime, but it was interesting and in one point laugh out loud funny. I enjoy Joanna's relationships with the men who work beside her. The fact that everyone seems to be conveniently pairing up as couples is a bit smarmy for my taste, but not so off-putting that I won't read the next installment. ( )
  MrsLee | Jan 31, 2011 |
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For Jim Hobbs
the real mechanical wizard of Queen Anne Hill,
a friend from the bad old days
and from the new good days as well.
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Hands on her hips, youthful breasts outthrust beneath the bulk of her red-and-gray sweater, seventeen-year-old Roxanne Brianna O'Brien, captain of the Bisbee High School pep squad, tossed her long blond hair and led her six-member team in a strutting parade around the end of the football field.
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Book description
From the back:

A pretty, popular teenager never returned from her secret tryst in Skeleton Canyon. Perhaps it was youthful rage or savage passion that ripped the life from a child of privilege and abandoned her broken body to the cold Arizona night.
Or maybe she stumbled onto something terrible, something too dangerous to know. Now dark secrets about a future hideously destroyed are pulling Sheriff Joanna Brady of Cochise County into a lethal nest of likes and greed, hidden in a desolate corner of the Southwestern Desert - where the next blood that feeds the parched earth could be her own.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380724332, Mass Market Paperback)

Although J.A. Jance and Tony Hillerman (Coyote Waits, The Fallen Man) are in many ways poles apart as mystery writers, they are united on at least two fronts: their appreciation of the hypnotically arid beauty of the American Southwest; and their sense that this landscape is peculiarly capable of engendering horrific violence. In Skeleton Canyon Jance writes: "Overhead, the stars shone like glittering diamonds against a velvet sky. The starlight was so bright that the mountains, rocks, and trees around her emerged from the gloom. Sitting there in the half-lit dark of Skeleton Canyon, it was easy for Brianna to sense time falling away from her. This rugged, almost empty corner of the Arizona desert had changed so little that even now an occasional jaguar, roaming north from the mountains of Mexico, had been spotted by a solitary rancher. And if the wild canyons of the Peloncillos still played host to an assortment of wildlife, it wasn't so far off to imagine that human outlaws still ranged that same habitat as well."

Brianna O'Brien never returns from Skeleton Canyon, where she had waited under cover of darkness to rendezvous, à la Juliet and Romeo, with her boyfriend, Ignacio Ybarra. In investigating Brianna's murder, Sheriff Joanna Brady must confront both the blatant racism of the O'Brien family--horrified to discover that their daughter could have been involved with a Mexican boy--and the family's dark past. There are skeletons in canyons, and skeletons as well locked behind the doors of the sprawling O'Brien compound. Home is where the heart is--but home is also host to a lethal nest of lies, greed, and secrets. --Kelly Flynn

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, widow Joanna Brady becomes caught up in a deadly family tragedy initiated by a pair of star-crossed lovers, while trying to prove herself in the male-dominated world of law enforcement and struggling to cope with echoes of Tombstone's infamous Clanton gang.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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