Cruel Intent (Ali Reynolds Series #4)

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance comes a chilling tale of suspense, where romance turns deadly at the hands of a man whose heart is filled with...

CRUEL INTENT

On a dating site, singleatheart.com, bored housewives can find romance with married men looking for sex without strings. But these "married singles" are flirting with more than just their vows. At the heart of this seemingly innocent ...

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Cruel Intent (Ali Reynolds Series #4)

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance comes a chilling tale of suspense, where romance turns deadly at the hands of a man whose heart is filled with...

CRUEL INTENT

On a dating site, singleatheart.com, bored housewives can find romance with married men looking for sex without strings. But these "married singles" are flirting with more than just their vows. At the heart of this seemingly innocent service, a vengeful computer hacker is playing games with people's lives...and deaths.

Ex-television journalist Ali Reynolds just wants a break from excitement. In the midst of a remodel, the last thing she expects is a murder investigation that will stop the construction on her home. But when the savagely murdered body of stay-at-home mom Morgan Forester is found, Ali's contractor Bryan is the prime suspect. Bryan swears he has nothing to do with his wife's murder — but as the investigation progresses Ali seems to be the only resident of Sedona who believes him.

Determined to prove Bryan's innocence, Ali unknowingly lands herself directly in the path of a calculating killer. In a world filled with encrypted computer traps and life-threatening lies, will Ali be able to decode the actions of a ruthless man determined to destroy women — before he uses his wicked website to find her?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Ex-TV journalist Ali Reynolds is trying to get her house remodeled in time for her son's wedding. But her contractor has been framed for his wife's murder by a serial killer who runs an Internet dating service for the unhappily married (thus providing him with adulterous victims). What's a homeowner to do but join forces with a hacker to find the killer? This dubious plot line isn't helped by several unconvincing elements (e.g., a car rental employee spots a tiny bloodstain on the carpet of a returned vehicle; Ali's elderly mom has just bought a taser). Broadway musical comedy star Karen Ziemba adds an upbeat vitality to her narration that underlines Jance's long suits-her smoothly flowing style and smart pacing-while breezing past the book's less than stellar sections. She most effectively catches the mood of the novel's most thrilling moments when, inevitably, Ali becomes a captive of the madman. A Touchstone hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 29). (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"Jance, whose books are read by millions, is on to something." — Kathleen Daley for The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781436178235
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 12/28/2009
  • Series: Ali Reynolds Series, #4
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

J. A. Jance

J.A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ali Reynolds series, the J.P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, as well as four interrelated Southwestern thrillers featuring the Walker family. Born in South Dakota, and brought up in Brisbee, Arizona, Jance and her husband live in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona. Visit her online at JAJance.com.

Biography

Considering J. A. Jance's now impressive career -- which includes two massively popular mystery series and status as a New York Times bestseller -- it may be difficult to believe that she was initially strongly discouraged from literary pursuits. A chauvinistic creative writing professor advised her to seek out a more "ladylike" job, such as nurse or schoolteacher. Moreover, her alcoholic husband (a failed Faulkner wannabe) assured her there was room in the family for only one writer, and he was it. Determined to make her doomed marriage work, Jance put her writing on the back burner. But while her husband slept, she penned the visceral poems that would eventually be collected in After the Fire.

Jance next chose to use her hard times in a more unlikely manner. Encouraged by an editor to try writing fiction after a failed attempt at a true-crime book, she created J. P. Beaumont, a homicide detective with a taste for booze. Beaumont's drinking problem was clearly linked to Jance's dreadful experiences with her first husband; but, as she explains it: "Beaumont was smart enough to sober up, once the problem was brought to his attention. My husband, on the other hand, died of chronic alcoholism at age 42." So, from misfortune grew one of the most popular characters in modern mystery fiction. Beaumont debuted in 1985's Until Proven Guilty -- and, after years of postponing her writing career, Jance was on her way.

As a sort of light flipside to the dark Beaumont, Jance created her second series in 1991. Inspired by the writer's happier role as a mom, plucky small-town sheriff Joanna Brady was introduced in Desert Heat and struck an immediate chord with readers. In 2005, Jance added a third story sequence to her repertoire with Edge of Evil, featuring Ali Reynolds, a former TV reporter-turned-professional blogger.

And so, the adventures continue! A career such as Jance's would be extraordinary under any circumstances, but considering the obstacles she overcame to become a bestselling, critically acclaimed novelist, her tale is all the more compelling. As she explains it: "One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that everything -- even the bad stuff -- is usable."

Good To Know

Geographically speaking, Jance is equal parts J. P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady. She splits her time between Beaumont's big-city home of Seattle and Brady's desert residence of Arizona.

Before her writing career become truly lucrative, Jance made little more than "fun money" off her books, and on her web site, she wryly recalls "the Improbable Cause trip to Walt Disney World; the Minor in Possession memorial powder room; the Payment in Kind memorial hot tub."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Judith Ann Jance
    2. Hometown:
      Bellevue, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 27, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Watertown, South Dakota
    1. Education:
      B. A., University of Arizona, 1966; M. Ed. in Library Science, University of Arizona, 1970
    2. Website:

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. Ali doesn't know Bryan Forester very well, and yet she's convinced he's innocent of his wife's murder. What makes her believe in him? Why does the rest of the community, people who have known Bryan his whole life, assume he's guilty?

2. When discussing her second husband, Ali always uses his full name: Paul Grayson. Why does she do this? Considering their history, is this a defense mechanism?

3. "I always tried to raise him to be independent, Ali thought ruefully. I may have succeeded too well" (pg. 88). How would you describe the various parent-child relationships in Cruel Intent? Consider Ali and Chris, Ali and her parents, Bryan and his daughters, Leland's friend Prescott and his children, amongst others. Which emotions are driving factors in these relationships?

4. In her video on Singleatheart.com, Morgan Forester says she doesn't want to go to her grave wondering about the Peggy Lee song "Is That All There Is." Does the video provide honest insight into Morgan's life, or is it another one of her manipulations? Which other characters might wonder is that all there is?

5. Describe Ali's relationship with Dave Holman. Is he jealous when she defends Bryan? If so, is that one of the reasons he's convinced of Bryan's guilt?

6. Why does Ali turn down work offers from her agent, Jacky? What does she want to do with her life?

7. What drives the killer and how does he choose his victims?

8. "The truth was, Ali wanted to go, too. Bryan Forester was part of her life; so were his girls. If there was anything she personally could do to help them, she would" (pg. 195). There are many other people Ali is quick to help. Is this simply her nature, or has she learned to relate to those in need of help? When should she volunteer, and when should she allow people to protect themselves?

9. What do Ali and Leland mean to each other? Why does he keep his feelings about her somewhat secret from Ali?

10. In the end, is the killer more upset that he was caught, or that he was caught by a woman?

Enhance Your Book Club:

Ali Reynolds is not the only one who keeps a blog. To learn more about J.A. Jance, visit her blog at: http://www.jajance.com/jajance.com/Blog/Blog.html

The Sugar Loaf Café is the hub of activity in Cruel Intent. Hold your book club meeting at a local, old-fashioned café or diner. Or better yet — try J.A. Jance's Sugar Loaf Sweet Role recipe available at: http://www.jajance.com/jajance.com/Sugar_Loaf_Cafe/Sugar_Loaf_Cafe.html

Morgan Forester claims Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is" inspired her to seek something more out of life. Find a recording of the song and play it before your meeting. Which songs might inspire other characters?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 58 )
Rating Distribution

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(29)

4 Star

(15)

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(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Confusing... main storyline gets lost

    Author confuses the reader with too much of a sub storyline and not enough of the primary storyline. The pace is slowed due to the secondary story and the reader is lost in the middle of the book, making it a chore to finish the book. The story would have been better if the author laid out the story line better. I hope the next Ali Reynolds book focus is better and the story is not diluted.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2008

    An exciting fast-paced thriller

    In Sedona, Arizona former TV news reporter Ali Reynolds is renovating a house when the wife of her contractor is found brutally murdered in their home. Police Detective Dave Holman suspects the husband Bryan Forrester killed his stay at home wife and mom Morgan as the violence implies someone passionately involved with the victim. Ali believes Bryan¿s proclamation of innocence, but no one else does.------------- Feeling obligated and also needing her home ready for the Thanksgiving invasion, Ali investigates, which leads her to singleatheart.com, a website where ¿married singles¿ can harmlessly flirt. As she digs deeper, she realizes a serial killer is hacking into homes with Morgan being number five. With all that info, she remains ignorant to the fact that the culprit is watching her.------------- The fourth Reynolds investigative tale (see HAND OF EVIL) is an exciting fast-paced thriller that starts at hyperspeed and accelerates from there. Although a couple of key late spins subtract from the plausibility, fans of J.A. Jance will enjoy her latest whodunit especially when the heroine finds family members wanting to help her but for the most part hinder her except for one key late intrusion.-------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2014

    Fantastic as always with JA Jance Books

    I've been an avid JA Jance fan for years, reading the Joanna Brady and JP Beaumont series...as I have gotten closer to catching up with her in each series I panicked...I hate having to wait for new books in series I love...it's like waiting to visit with friends you love! So I decide to try the Ali Reynolds series...I can't put them down. I love Ali and her cast of characters as much if not more than Joanna and my much loved JP. Anyone who enjoys mystery and series must read these books...find #1 and dive in...you won't be sorry.

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  • Posted May 23, 2014

    Very good story if you like sequels, which I do.

    JA Jance is a favorite author. I enjoy the Ali Reynolds series. Good characters suspenseful stories. Good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Recommended if you enjoy mysteries that are not bloody.

    I have read all of the Ali Reynolds mysteries and have enjoyed every one of them. I enjoy mysteries but not those that get into blood and guts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    The Best One Yet

    A fun read knowing "who did it" & then watching the events play out. I've read almost all of her books and this is the best!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    Too many distractions from the Mystery

    I am truly baffled at the four star review for this book. This story is told with the idea of "why use thee words when twelve will do".

    The mystery itself is classic an interesting. A hardworking father that we can feel for when he loses is wife and then is framed for the murder. The problem is that the mystery get's lost in the shuffle of far too many subplots (home renovation, wedding planning, scholarship winners, Thanksgiving Dinner, family conflict, etc.). The killer was interesting if not cliche; though at times he did things far below his supposed intelligent level.

    Let's be clear, this book is trying to be a "thriller". In that genre the reader knows who the villain is and the suspense comes from wondering when the "hero" will intersect them. Of course, there is nothing thrilling about this as it moves so slow. There are so many spectacular mysteries and thrillers out there, I cannot possibly recommend this one. Unfortunately as this is my first book by JA Jance, it will also probably be my last.

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  • Posted March 19, 2012

    good read

    good book, but then all her books are good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    Highly recommended

    As with all the Ali Reynolds books, a very good and riveting story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Another Jance character to grab you.

    I have been a fan of J.A. for some years. I love her characters...Brady and Beaumont...and the inidividual stories she has done. Now we have another character...Ali Reynolds. I love them all because they are so different but good reads.Now I have to finish what I am currently reading so I can read #5.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    Have anybody read this book?

    ????

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    J A Jance and Ali Reynolds at their best

    Great story with lots of twists and turns will keep you guessing and rooting for Ali 'til the very end. Definitely worth the read.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Winner from JA Jance

    This is one of my favorite authors, and as always she has produced a great story. Allison Reynolds is her third series, and I highly recommend her J.P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady series, too. She's a fantastic writer, and I've enjoyed all of her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Ali Reynolds

    I enjoy and read all the Ali Reynolds series. I look for J.A. Jance books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great story

    This book kept you on the edge of your seat. You knew he was going to go after Ali but you couldn't have imagined the violence he used on her. He was a depirate man

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    NOT WHAT I EXPECTED

    I did not care for this book. I expected it to be more interesting. Too much was written about other things that did not have anything to do with the plot of the book.

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  • Posted March 8, 2009

    J. A. JANCE KEEPS SUSPSENSE HIGH

    JAN 1, 2009 In CRUEL INTENT J. A. Jance delivers another dead on thriller chock full of suspense and intrigue with bodies aplenty. Ali Reynolds has returned to Arizona and becomes embroiled in a nasty case of accumulating dead bodies who became that way at the hands of a monomaniacal serial killer.After resigning her job as an investigative television reporter and becoming a widow while in the process of divorcing her husband, Ali Reynolds has returned to her roots in Sedona, Arizona. When her odious agent heard she purchased the old Arrabella Ashcroft's, mother's desperately in need of repair Victorian manse, he talks her into using the project as the theme for a "reality show." He pressures Ali into agreeing to do the show by promising that her house would be the first whole house makeover for the pilot episode. But he didn't fool Ali who had been his client "forever," she thought he probably was going to find an insignificant role for her and boost the career of a new face as host . a male face.Nevertheless she agrees and the film crew shadows the renovation crewf with a camera and they seems to have their own agenda. They hope to find some "hot item" they can sell for their own reasons. And of course, a battle erupts every so often when the cameras are in the way or the builders are not quite worrying about the next close-up. But overall production moves along its slow paced path. And though they are slightly behind schedule Ali hasn't pressed the panic button as CRUEL INTENT by J. A. Jance opens.Just painting a room in one's house can be stressful, but a complete overhaul is more than stressful it's like taking a ride on an out-of-control roller coaster while you are riding upside down. But Ali is an optimistic and pragmatic person who is willing to put up with the chaos because she is eager for the house to become a home as soon as possible . she wants to have Thanksgiving in her new digs. And to her good fortune, when she purchased the house she inherited Leland Brooks, the Ashcroft butler who sees Ali as bird with a broken wing who he is determined to heal. She lives with her son, a teacher in a nearby high school, who just became engaged to a colleague and the two young people add a breath of fresh life to a narrative that soon becomes very strange. Ali's parents are alive, well and happy as their restaurant that is the central meeting place for all of the townspeople.The action picks up when Detective Dave Holman, the Sheriff's deputy, tears into the middle of the parked vehicles that sit like abandoned settlements beside the construction site. When Ali stands to greet him she is shocked by the expression on his face.He rudely asks for whereabouts of Bryan Forrester the general contractor on the job. When he appears the Deputy is brutal in delivering the news that his wife is dead-brutally murdered on the lawn outside their house--and his little twin girls found her when they got home from school. Forrester immediately asks about his children and is informed they are at the police station he can see them there. Ali can barely take the words in and doesn't understand why the sheriff is being so harsh and cruel as he pushes the stricken man into the back seat of the police cruiser. From where she stands Ali thinks he looks very much like a guilty man on his way to police headquarters.Twists and turns keep the action going. REVIEWER BARBARA LIPKIEN GERSHENBAUM

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  • Posted March 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Internet Stalking and Murder

    Ali Reynolds is in the process of having her house renovated in Sedona, AZ, by contractor Bryan Forester. That is until Forester is arrested for the brutal murder of his wife Morgan. Ali doesn't believe he's guilty and sets out to look into Morgan's life.

    She finds Morgan had been dating men through singleheard.com, a site set up for married people to find others willing to have an affair. So Ali joins to see if there could be any correlation with why she was murdered.

    Leland Brooks, her inherited butler and personal assistant, continues to coordinate the renovations when Forester's men decide to stay on the job. What a great help he is!

    Once Bryan is out on bail, he notifies Ali that the money she gave him for her new kitchen cupboards is missing. His wife had always done the books. He has discovered she was embezzling money from him. Ali, believing in Bryan, pays the cupboard contractor directly as she wants to have the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner in her newly renovated house.

    Yavapai Co. Sheriff's Detective Dave Holman believes Bryan to be guilty and isn't too happy with Ali for supporting him. Ali and Dave have had an on again off again relationship. This just strains it further.

    To complicate things further, Chris, Ali's son, has recently become engaged to a coworker. Edie, Ali's mom, unknowingly puts a strain on this new relationship when she "helps" them with their engagement party.

    Plus Edie has just purchased a pink taser. Ali's father fear she will get herself into big trouble with it.

    As the holiday looms closer, Ali finds herself deeper and deeper in internet stalking and danger.

    I love this series. Ali is such a wonderful character. I think the addition of Leland Brooks to the series was terrific. Ali's family always provides a lot of material for the series as well.

    I think the internet stalking is such a timely subject and was handled so well in this book. It really helps people to think before putting information out there and believing everything people say.

    This fast-paced mystery thriller will keep you turning the pages. I highly recommend this book and the complete series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    my favorite author

    I enjoy reading her books have read everyone of hers. Enjoy her joana brady series very well.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2009

    She has done it again!

    JA Jance is such an interesting writer. She can write a lot of books with each one having a complete and interesting character study. I find it hard to put them down. Each of her series has different settings and this one is my favorite. The main character, Ali, is a very gutsy woman. I cant wait to find out what she will do next or what will be done to her.

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