I've been following the trials and tribulations of Sheriff Joanna Brady of Cochise County, Arizona for many years. J.A. Jance released the first book in 1993 and the latest installment - Judgment Call - marks the 15th entry in this long running and much loved series.
Joanna's fifteen year old daughter Jenny stumbles upon a body while out for an early morning ride. It turns out to be the body of the local high school principal, who had been reported as missing. And with that discovery, her personal and professional lives collide. It seems that Principal Highsmith had some secrets....
What has kept me coming back to this series over the years? The strength is in the recurring characters. Sitting down to read a Brady book is like listening to an old friend tell a good story. Brady's life has continued to change and evolve over the years, in a believable manner. She's a character I've come to know and like. So, the personal story lines are always a draw. I always enjoy the setting descriptions as well. Jance owns a home in Arizona, so the descriptions are drawn from personal observation.
The mystery is solid in Judgment Call, as is Joanna's investigation of it. Nothing earth shattering, but again, it's all in the telling. This is the first time I've chosen to listen to a Brady book. I was quite concerned what the reader would sound like, as I have developed a mental image for Joanna over the years. The reader was Hilary Huber and she was an excellent choice. I have listened to her narrate other audio books and enjoyed them. She has a slightly gravelly tone to her voice that is quite unique. Her voice is very well modulated and conveys strength, purpose and urgency without being raised. It conveyed the calm confidence of Sheriff Brady easily. Different characters are portrayed using easily differentiated voices.
The only jarring note in The Judgment was the inclusion of a secondary plot involving the death of Joanna's father that seemed almost tacked on. It was another link in Joanna's story and I was glad of the revelations but it just felt a little clumsy.
All in all, another good solid read from Jance. Listen to an excerpt of Judgment Call. Or read an excerpt. You can find J.A. Jance on Twitter and on Facebook.