Day of the Dead (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #3)

Day of the Dead (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #3)

3.9 20
by J. A. Jance

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"For more than thirty years, the case has remained stone cold - the brutal murder of a local Papago girl, her butchered body found stuffed into a large cooler that was left on the side of Highway 86. No one ever paid for the horrific crime ... except, that is, the victim's loved ones, who suffer to this day." "Brandon Walker, once the sheriff of Pima County, Arizona,…  See more details below


"For more than thirty years, the case has remained stone cold - the brutal murder of a local Papago girl, her butchered body found stuffed into a large cooler that was left on the side of Highway 86. No one ever paid for the horrific crime ... except, that is, the victim's loved ones, who suffer to this day." "Brandon Walker, once the sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, no longer feels he has purpose. A reluctant retiree living in the long shadow of his wife, Diana Ladd, a successful author of true-crime books, he is bored with golf, and more so with life. Salvation, though, comes with an invitation to join the ranks of The Last Chance, an exclusive nationwide fraternity of former cops and forensic experts who look into unsolved murders that have baffled local law enforcement agencies. And one such case is staring Brandon in the face with cold, dead, entreating eyes - a murder investigation that may have been mishandled by his department when he was a young lawman." The trail of a sadistic, calculating, and blood-chillingly efficient killer soon leads Brandon into a strange world at the unlikely border between forensic science and tribal mysticism: a place where evil hides behind a perfect facade. Now the seeds of terror sown three decades earlier have bloomed and are bearing awful fruit. A forgotten homicide in the Arizona desert is only the beginning of the nightmare that is about to ensnare a diligent ex-cop and his family, for Brandon Walker is the only one still alive who can unravel a blood knot of terror and obsession that will free a dark truth more frightening than he ever imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
Dallas Morning News
“Suspenseful, action-packed.”
Orlando Sentinel
“Credible and entertaining.”
Praise for J.A. Jance:“Jance delivers a devilish page-turner.”
Washington Times
“J. A. Jance does not disappoint her fans.”
Publishers Weekly
Jance's third suspense thriller to feature ex-sheriff Brandon Walker and his family (after Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees) deftly mixes Native American mythology with a harrowing plot. An old Tohono O'odham woman, Emma Orozco, asks Walker for help in solving the brutal murder of her daughter, Roseanne, who was slain in 1970. Walker is able to take on the challenge because of his membership in TLC, The Last Chance, a privately funded agency that looks into old, unsolved crimes. This ingenious arrangement allows for great flexibility in the action of the story. As Walker searches for clues in Roseanne's death, he comes across similar murders each with no leads, each involving a dismembered body left alongside a road in the Southwest. The reader learns more and more about the killers, the sexually voracious, utterly amoral Gayle Stryker and her husband, Larry, a truly effective pair of monsters. Meanwhile, Walker's dear friend Fat Crack Ortiz, a Tohono O'odham man, is dying of complications from diabetes. Most of Walker's friends, in fact, are Indians, as is his adopted daughter, Lani. He draws not so much knowledge as strength and perspective from them no mumbo-jumbo here, only believable sensitivity. Agent, Alice Volpe. (One-day laydown July 20) Forecast: Backed by a 15-city author tour concentrated in the Southwest, this one should hit national bestseller lists. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is the third entry in Jance's series featuring Tucson-based author Diana Ladd; her former-sheriff husband, Brandon Walker; their adopted Papago Indian daughter, Lani; and a large and confusing cast of extended family and friends. Brandon is asked to solve a 30-year-old case involving a dismembered woman, while his son, a detective, works on a contemporary case that is eerily similar. Through flashbacks, we learn early on that the killer is a long-time acquaintance of Diana and Brandon; the suspense builds as the two cases merge, the clues mount, and we wonder if the killer will be discovered before striking again or disappearing forever. In the earlier books (Hour of the Hunter; Kiss of the Bees), this family experienced an incredible string of brutal events, including stalking, torture, and murder, and the brutality continues here. Jance attempts to deepen the story through the use of Papago mysticism and a rich sense of the Arizona landscape, but readers of her J.P. Beaumont or Joanna Brady series will be surprised at the graphic sexual violence. Purchase where the author is popular. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/04.]-Ann Forister, Roseville P.L., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series, #3
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

Day of the Dead
A Novel of Suspense

Chapter One

They say it happened long ago that I'itoi, Elder Brother, came to a village to see if his Desert People had enough water after the long summer heat.

As he walked along he heard a crowd of Indian children playing. He stopped for a while and watched them, listening to the music of their voices and laughter. About that time Elder Brother saw an old woman carrying a heavy load of wood for her cooking fire. Old Woman was not as happy and carefree as the children. She had no energy to sing or play.

About that time an old coyote came and stood by I'itoi. He, too, watched the children. Old Coyote's ribs showed under his thin, ragged coat. Like Old Woman, Old Coyote could no longer play and dance. His paws were too stiff and sore from just walking around in the desert.

Seeing Old Woman and Old Coyote made I'itoi sad. Because Elder Brother's heart was heavy, he couldn't walk very fast. He went to the shade of some cottonwood trees to rest. It was autumn, so the leaves on the tree had turned yellow, but they still made shade.

As Great Spirit sat under the trees, he thought about the children at play and about how different they would be when they grew old. He thought about some young calves he had seen that morning in a field and about how they would change as they grew older. He thought about a young colt he had seen kicking up its heels with joy, and he thought about how, one day, Young Colt would become Old Horse. He thought about flowers and about how their leaves withered and their colors faded when they grew old.

Thinking about these things, I'itoi decided he would like to have something around him that would not change as it became old. He wanted something that would not grow heavy like the cows and horses or wrinkled and bent like old men and women or dry and colorless like dead flowers. Great Spirit wanted something that would always stay happy and beautiful like the children.

As I'itoi was thinking these things under the cottonwood trees, he looked up. He saw the yellow leaves. He saw the blue sky through the leaves. He saw the shadows under the yellow leaves. He looked down and saw streaks and spots of sunlight dancing around on the ground just as the Indian Children had danced. Then Great Spirit laughed, for you see, nawoj -- my friend, I'itoi had found just what he wanted.

March 16, 2000

Brandon Walker stood in front of the bathroom mirror locked in mortal combat with the stubborn strings of his bow tie. As sweat dampened his brow and soaked through the underarms of his starched white shirt, he longed for the good old days when, as Pima County sheriff, he could have shown up at one of these cattle calls in his dress uniform instead of having to put on a stupid tuxedo.

There was a tap on the door. "Are you ready?" Diana asked. "It's getting late."

"Then you'd better come help me with this damned tie," Brandon grunted.

Diana opened the door, and her reflection joined his in the mirror. She was so beautiful that seeing her took Brandon's breath away. She was dressed in a deep blue full-length taffeta gown that complemented every inch of her still slim figure. In the cleft at the base of her throat a diamond solitaire pendant hung from a slender gold chain. That single piece of jewelry had cost more than Brandon's first house. Her auburn hair, highlighted now with natural streaks of gray, was pulled back in an elegant French twist.

"Hi, gorgeous," he said.

She smiled back at him. "You're not so bad yourself. What's the trouble?"

"The bow," he said. "I'm all fumble fingers." It took only a few seconds for her to untangle and straighten the tie. "There," she said, patting his shoulder. "Now let's get going."

Brandon picked up his jacket from the bed and shrugged his way into it as he followed his wife down the hall. "Which car?" he asked. "Mine or yours?"

"Yours," she said.

They drove east from Gates Pass and into downtown Tucson to the community center where the Tucson Man and Woman of the Year benefit gala was being held. The honorees, Gayle and Dr. Lawrence Stryker, were friends of Diana Ladd's dating back to her days as a teacher on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Now a local luminary, Diana had been asked to give a short introductory and no doubt laudatory speech. Brandon's plan was to go, be seen, and do his best to be agreeable. But when it came to Larry and Gayle Stryker, he intended to keep his mouth firmly shut. That would be best for all concerned.

Larry Stryker sat on the dais overlooking the decorated ballroom filled with candlelit banquet tables and listened as Diana Ladd stood at the microphone and spoke about old times.

"As some of you know, in the early seventies I went through a rough patch. I was teaching on the reservation, had lost my husband, and had a brand-new baby. Not many people stuck with me during that time, but Larry and Gayle Stryker did, and I'll always be grateful for that. Over the years it's been gratifying for me to see what they've done with their lives and to watch as they've turned a single idea into a powerful tool for good."

Larry searched the sea of upturned faces until he caught sight of Brandon Walker sitting at one of the foremost tables. The former sheriff, looking uncomfortable and out of his element in what was probably a rented tux, sat with his arms folded across his chest. Their eyes met briefly. Brandon nodded in acknowledgment, but there was nothing friendly in the gesture -- on either side.

Former sheriff. That was the operant word here. While Diana Ladd spoke of the good old times, Larry was free to let his thoughts drift back to those times as well. Fortunately, no one in the room -- most especially Brandon Walker -- was able to read his mind.

Day of the Dead
A Novel of Suspense
. Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Day of the Dead (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #3) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
kidblitz More than 1 year ago
Jance has several different settings but her writing is fun and enjoyable. I read alot of technical stuff for work and it's great to have something interesting and fast moving to relax to when the day is done.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Elderly Tohono O'odham Indian, Emma Orozco, visits former sheriff Brandon Walker to ask if he will investigate the vicious murder of her daughter, Roseanne. Having a connection to the Indian tribe through his beloved adopted daughter and unable to refuse a client unable to pay his expenses, Brandon agrees to make inquiries into a cold case homicide that occurred over three decades ago. Solving a killing that happened during the Nixon Administration is doubtful. Brandon turns to the privately funded The Last Chance, a group that investigates unsolved crimes for assistance including money. As he makes inquiries into the Roseanne murder, he notices a pattern of eerily similar deaths. He postulates that a serial killer or multiple culprits have left dismembered bodies by isolated Southwest roads with no other clues. He begins to close in on the amoral killer(s) who have no compunction in eliminating the sleuth, his family, and friends. The fast-paced third Walker mystery is an exciting crime thriller that contains a lot more sexual violence (especially by an unscrupulous couple) than normally seen in a J.A. Jance tale (see J.P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady novels). Walker is a fabulous protagonist who reveres Native American customs and mysticism, but uses old fashion investigative techniques to try to uncover the culprit(s). The secondary cast especially his wife Diana (major player in (see HOUR OF THE HUNTER and KISS OF THE BEES), a close dying friend Fat Crack Ortiz, his adopted daughter Lani and several other Indians enable the audience to see deeper into this fine upstanding champion. This is a terrific not so cold case that fans of the author will cherish. Harriet Klausner
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bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
CD/Unabridged/Mystery: Too many characters. Too many meaningless flashbacks. This audio would have been so, so much better if it was abridged. I'm never going to listen or read another Brandon Walker novel. I'll stick with Joanna Brady. This one had too many issues. The narrator was find, but the book is full of background details to characters that have no real purpose to the plot and solving the murders. The ending was extremely anti-climatic and a letdown. The bad guys get off way too easy. Also, DON'T CUT THE UMBILICAL CORD! If someone is has a baby in a car, go to the hospital and let a doctor cut the cord! Don't use a unsterilized knife; even with the ends tied, there can be a major infection! I was yelling at these idiots.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my first suspense story that I have read, but thanks to J.A Jance, I have discover that I really like suspence. This book is non stopping thriller just by reading the first paragragh. It's just like a puzzle, putting stories and character in order to be able to conect the story. But also very confucing, but with this book confucing is good. I really recommend this book to everybody, because it's just good, in all aspects.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was surprised this was Ms. Jance's third Brandon Walker novel. I had not seen the first two, and I'm a BIG fan of Ms. Jance! I found this book scattered with confusing story lines, too many characters (each with two names)and not as well developed as her previous people. I guess I need to get the first two Brandon Walker books to find out what happened to Joanna Brady? In the meantime, I'M PATIENTLY(?) WAITING FOR BEAUMONT TO RETURN!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's tempting to praise J. A. Jance's latest, calling it a 'Southwestern mystery.' It does beautifully evoke the scenes of that region as well as the faces and personalities of the Native Americans who live there. However, one simply cannot fit bestselling mystery writer Jance into a predictable box - she's far too original for that. So, let's simply say that the setting for this is the Southwest, by turns barren and beautiful. The villain is as merciless as the scorching sun over that area's desert. Day of the Dead returns to the story of former sheriff Brandon Walker, first introduced in Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees. Walker's now a retiree - a none too happy one at that. Golf isn't his game, solving crimes is; he's bored. Wife, Diana Ladd, is still typing away on Pulitzer Prize winning books, but Walker is in a funk, missing the action and challenge of former days. He's asked to join an organization, TLC, or The Last Chance. Purpose of this group is to solve old crimes, cold cases; this is right down his alley. Little does he know that the first case is one that his department messed up some years back. A fifteen-year-old Tohono O'odham girl was murdered, not only murdered but mutilated. What was a cold case becomes a hot case when it becomes evident that there is a serial killer on the loose with a decades old crime record. Jance, a New York Times bestselling author, has penned 29 novels, some 10 million of which are in print. She spent several years living on the Tohono O'odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona, thus her memories of the scene and the people are vivid, all of which enriches her story. In addition, while she and her husband were on the reservation they became the targets of a serial killer. Recognized by the press as 'among the best - if not the best mystery novelist writing today, ' she writes from the heart and from experience. Don't miss 'Day of the Dead' for crackling suspense derived from shocking truth. - Gail Cooke