Deadly Stakes (Ali Reynolds Series #8) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Former reporter Ali Reynolds finds herself working against the police to add up the clues that connect one frightened teenager, two dead bodies, and $300,000 . . . with the body count rising.

Hired to investigate the grisly murder of a gold-digging divor­cée on behalf of the woman accused of the crime, Ali Reynolds is immediately drawn to the case of the secretive teenager who found the body. A. J. Sanders was in the Camp Verde desert to ...
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Deadly Stakes (Ali Reynolds Series #8)

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Overview

Former reporter Ali Reynolds finds herself working against the police to add up the clues that connect one frightened teenager, two dead bodies, and $300,000 . . . with the body count rising.

Hired to investigate the grisly murder of a gold-digging divor­cée on behalf of the woman accused of the crime, Ali Reynolds is immediately drawn to the case of the secretive teenager who found the body. A. J. Sanders was in the Camp Verde desert to retrieve a mystery box buried by his absent father—a box that turns out to be filled with hundreds of thousands of dol­lars’ worth of poker chips. When a second body is found in the desert, it seems the three cases are more closely related than anyone could have imagined. Though Ali’s friends in the police department grow increasingly irritated by her involvement, Ali must stop a ruthless killer from claiming another victim . . . before she is lost in this game of deadly stakes.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

When Ali Reynolds begins to investigate the murder of the divorcee, she knows that her client is on the top of the suspect list. Even with doubts on her mind, she pursues the case relentlessly, redoubling her efforts when a young man with deep secrets of his own is arrested for a homicide that she believes is related. Once again, J.A. Jance displays her talent for maintaining firm control of a realistic, complex plot while unleashing some surprise plot twists.

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Jance’s busy eighth Ali Reynolds thriller (after 2012’s Left for Dead) takes the former newscaster from Sedona, Ariz., to Phoenix, where friend Brenda Riley is filming a story on cyberstalker Richard Lowensdale, whom Reynolds helped bring down in 2011’s Fatal Error. When circumstances land Lynn Martinson, one of Lowensdale’s victims, in another pickle, Martinson’s mother recommends she turn to Reynolds for help. But Martinson and boyfriend Chip Ralston soon find themselves in worse trouble after the discovery of the body of Ralston’s avaricious ex-wife, Gemma Ralston. The discovery of a second body near the first raises puzzling questions about possible connections between the victims. Meanwhile, high school senior A.J. Sanders, who anonymously reported Gemma’s death, also seeks Reynolds help as he tries to avoid suspicion. Series fans will welcome the familiar supporting cast, including computer nerd Stuart Ramey and boyfriend B. Simpson, but awkwardly contrived linkages and a lack of narrative drive make this a lesser effort. Agent: Alice Volpe, Northwest Literary. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Jance delivers a devilish page-turner."

"Heart-stopping...Jance deftly brings the desert, people, and towns of southeastern Arizona to life."

"An intriguing plot, colorful characters."

"Characters so real you want to reach out and hug—or strangle—them. Her dialogue always rings true."

"J.A. Jance is addictive because of moments that just rise up and make things so real you'll swear you are a part of the book...Jance will charm you into reading everything by her you can find."

“Engaging. . . Ali charms the locals into giving valuable if inadvertent clues.”

"Entertaining on all counts."

“Loyal fans and newcomers alike will be glad to join feisty Ali in her latest adventure.”

“A truly thrilling case with red herrings, characters coming out of the woodwork, back stories that will make you gasp, and a conclusion that you will not see coming!”

People
"Jance delivers a devilish page-turner."
Booklist
"Entertaining on all counts."
San Diego Union-Tribune
"An intriguing plot, colorful characters."
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"Characters so real you want to reach out and hug—or strangle—them. Her dialogue always rings true."
Suspense Magazine
“A truly thrilling case with red herrings, characters coming out of the woodwork, back stories that will make you gasp, and a conclusion that you will not see coming!”
Statesman Journal (Salem

"J.A. Jance is addictive because of moments that just rise up and make things so real you'll swear you are a part of the book...Jance will charm you into reading everything by her you can find."
Oregon) Statesman Journal (Salem
"J.A. Jance is addictive because of moments that just rise up and make things so real you'll swear you are a part of the book...Jance will charm you into reading everything by her you can find."
Statesman Journal (Salem Oregon)
"J.A. Jance is addictive because of moments that just rise up and make things so real you'll swear you are a part of the book...Jance will charm you into reading everything by her you can find."
People
"Jance delivers a devilish page-turner."
Kirkus Reviews
Agreeing to look into a murder case for an acquaintance becomes a very dangerous game for an Arizona crime expert. Now that she's finished managing her mother's unsuccessful election campaign, former reporter Ali Reynolds (Left for Dead, 2012, etc.) is at loose ends, but not for long. Ali had met Lynn Martinson when they were both doing a television story on a cyberstalker. She's concerned that Lynn's bad taste in men may have carried over to her new boyfriend, Chip Ralston, an Alzheimer's expert who treated her father. When Chip's gold-digging ex-wife is found stabbed to death in the desert, Lynn and Chip are arrested by an overzealous prosecutor, and Ali agrees to investigate for Lynn's court-appointed attorney. Going one better than the police, who haven't found out who reported the crime, Ali learns that it was A.J. Sanders, a frightened teen out in the desert looking for a hidden treasure his ex-convict father wrote him about after turning up on A.J.'s 16th birthday with a car and enough money to pay for gas and insurance. When James Sanders' body is found near the crime scene, both the police, who are not happy with Ali's investigation, and Ali herself are determined to establish a connection. With help from her boyfriend's clever go-to computer expert, Ali finds some things the police have missed--perhaps enough to lead her into a deathtrap. Prolific Jance melds elements of the thriller and police procedural with a touch of romance to carry readers swiftly to an unexpected conclusion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451628708
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Series: Ali Reynolds Series , #8
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 8,796
  • File size: 3 MB

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:

Read an Excerpt

Deadly Stakes


  • Several miles across town, Ali Reynolds sighed and looked at her watch. She had known when she had agreed to do the shoot at the Phoenix FOX affiliate that it would be the same day and time that her mother, Edie Larson, would be speaking before a luncheon meeting of local Sedona Rotarians as part of her run for mayor. Edie had done a number of informal coffee-hour appearances, but this would be her first major speaking engagement, one in which she would be going head to head with her thirtysomething opponent. As Edie’s campaign manager, Ali felt she needed to be there to handle the background issues and put out any fires that cropped up. Unfortunately, the scheduled shoot for FOX’s new Scene of the Crime news magazine had been chiseled in granite.

“You go do the shoot and don’t worry about me,” Edie had assured her daughter earlier that morning. “Brenda Riley is counting on you.”

“But so are you,” Ali had objected.

“You can’t afford to miss the taping,” Edie said firmly. “Besides, with Brenda’s book due to come out the same week the show is scheduled to broadcast nationally, she has a lot more riding on this than I do. I’ll be speaking to that bunch of Rotarians, most of whom I know on a first-name basis. How bad can that be? Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”

Ali shook her head in resignation. What her mother wasn’t saying was that both candidates had been invited to speak at the luncheon, and this was the first time Edie would be trading campaign rhetoric with an opponent socked with a supply of well-rehearsed replies.

“Why do I always end up with people counting on me?” Ali asked.

Edie smiled. “Because that’s the way your father and I raised you,” she said, “and we love you for it.”

As a consequence, Ali had left her house on Sedona’s Manzanita Hills Road a little before noon on that Tuesday morning to drive down into the sunbaked oven known as the Valley of the Sun. Since it was already pushing the nineties in Sedona, she knew Phoenix would be a scorcher. She didn’t even attempt to put on camera-ready makeup for the drive down. Instead she took along the traveling makeup kit she had used back in the old days, when she was an on-air reporter and later a television news anchor.

For the better part of two years, she had known that her friend Brenda Riley, also a former newscaster, had been working on a book about a cyberstalker named Richard Lowensdale who, operating under any number of aliases, had victimized dozens of lonely women from all over the country, romancing them with digital sweet nothings that had promised the world and delivered only humiliation and heartache.

Richard’s preferred victims were vulnerable women considered high-profile in their various communities. Ali had first met Brenda Riley when they were working as news anchors, with Ali at a news desk in L.A. while Brenda was at a sister station in Sacramento. Brenda had been drawn into Richard’s clutches in the aftermath of a difficult divorce, along with a sudden sidelining from her newscasting job when she outlived her on-camera shelf life. For Brenda, those two major losses had resulted in a booze- and drug-fueled midlife crisis. Ali had been dragged into the fray when Brenda asked for help in doing a simple background check on the new man in Brenda’s life. Unfortunately, that supposedly simple check had uncovered the existence of Richard Lowensdale’s full contingent of fiancées, all of whom, like Brenda, had been wooed through cyberspace.

That revelation, coupled with all the other losses, had been enough to send Brenda off on an almost fatal series of benders. When Brenda finally sobered up and wised up, she set out to expose the man for what he was. Before she could do so, however, someone else beat her to the punch. Unfortunately for Richard, one of his erstwhile victims, Ermina Vlasic Cunningham Blaylock, happened to be a serial murderer in her own right. She had lured him into doing an illicit engineering job with the promise of a large payday when in fact she had every intention of taking him out once he was no longer useful.

Ermina had carried out the cold-blooded killing with utter ruthlessness, leaving evidence that should have put the blame for Lowensdale’s murder at Brenda Riley’s door. All of that might have gone according to plan had it not been for the timely arrival of Ali and a Grass Valley homicide detective named Gilbert Morris. Brenda’s mother had alerted Ali to the fact that her daughter had gone missing. Between Ali and Detective Morris, they not only managed to capture Ermina, they also rescued Brenda, who was found, close to death, locked in the trunk of Ermina’s rented Cadillac.

Their timely rescue had been good for Brenda but not so good for an FBI surveillance team also on the scene, intent on bringing down both Ermina and the drug cartel movers and shakers who were the intended end customers of her illegal stock of supposedly dismantled drones. When offered a possible plea deal, Ermina arrogantly refused. Rather than walking away with what would have been a hand slap on three separate charges of homicide, she chose to go to trial. As a result, juries in two different California jurisdictions and one in Missouri all returned guilty verdicts.

Two years later, some legal maneuverings continued, but with Ermina sentenced to life without parole in two different states, Brenda Riley, now married to the retired detective Morris, was free to publish the whole story. Scene of the Crime, a new televised true-crime weekly magazine, was prepared to give the story full-court-press treatment for its premiere show, and Ali had agreed to go on camera to tell her part of the story.

It wasn’t until she arrived at the television studio in Phoenix that Ali discovered one of Richard Lowensdale’s cyberstalking victims, Lynn Martinson, formerly of Iowa City, Iowa, was now living in the Phoenix area and would be filming her segment with the same crew in the course of the afternoon.

Lynn—in her mid-forties, at least, a bit on the frumpy side, and incredibly nervous—was already in the greenroom when Ali arrived. A receptionist had just given her the unwelcome news that the film crew and host were delayed, having missed a flight connection. If Ali had known about the delay earlier, she could have stayed for part of the luncheon meeting and driven to Phoenix immediately afterward. Now that she was here, there was nothing to do but wait. She went into the greenroom powder room to reapply her makeup, then settled in to wait.

Lynn, on the other hand, paced the floor and agonized over her hair, makeup, and clothing. “Your makeup is perfect,” she said, examining Ali. “Do I look all right?”

Ali had spent years in front of a camera, and she was an expert in what to do and what not to do. She didn’t have the heart to tell the poor woman the truth.

“You’re fine,” Ali assured her. “The crew will probably have someone along who can doctor your makeup should they decide it needs fixing. Sit down. Relax. It’ll be okay.”

With a resigned sigh, Lynn sank down on one of the room’s several uncomfortable chairs. “I take it you’re one of Richard’s victims, too?” she asked.

“No,” Ali said. “I’m from Sedona. Originally, I was a friend of Brenda’s. I’m the one who ran the background check that started the whole unmasking of Richard Lowensdale.”

“Oh,” Lynn said. “You’re the detective, the one who figured it all out, you and that guy from Grass Valley.”

“Gil Morris is the detective,” Ali said. “I was a concerned bystander.”

“Luckily for Brenda,” Lynn said. “I’m glad you’re not one of us. Because of Richard, I ended up losing everything—my job; my self-respect. And then my son committed suicide . . .”

“I’m so sorry,” Ali murmured.

Those three words of sympathy were enough to launch Lynn on a long, sad monologue, leaving Ali no choice but to listen.

“Thank you,” Lynn said. “Lucas died just after I learned the truth about Richard. That’s where I met him, by the way—in a tough-love chat room shortly after Lucas was picked up on drug charges. Here I was, the superintendent of schools, and my kid was in jail for dealing drugs. You can imagine how that went over in a place like Iowa City.

“When Lucas was arrested, my ex refused to take any responsibility. He blamed the whole thing on me, and that’s why I fell so hard for Richard. He told me his name was Richard Lewis. It’s no wonder I fell in love with the guy. Here was a caring man who was willing to listen to my troubles and who really seemed to understand what I was going through because he had a similar story. Richard claimed he had a daughter who had gone down the same druggie path Lucas was on—including spending time in juvie. Fortunately, his daughter had come out all right on the other side.

“Hearing that gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe someday Lucas would be all right, too. Then I found out Richard was a complete fraud, that everything he had told me was a lie—he didn’t even have a daughter. That’s when everything caught up with me, and I went to pieces. I couldn’t go to work. Couldn’t get out of bed some days. It was then, while I was lying around feeling sorry for myself, that Lucas committed suicide. He left a note saying he was sorry but he couldn’t live in prison and he’d rather be dead. That’s my fault, too. If I had been there for him, maybe I could have saved him.”

Listening and nodding, Ali didn’t bother saying what she knew to be true—that kids from even the most loving of families could fall victim to suicide. Survivors were always too ready to accept blame and assume that something they might have done or said, or might not have done or said, would have made a difference.

“I’m sorry,” Ali said again.

Lynn nodded and continued. “With Lucas gone, I just gave up. I ended up quitting my job. I also lost my house. My parents had retired and moved to Surprise. By then my father’s Alzheimer’s was getting worse and worse, so I came here to help my mom look after him. That’s one good thing. Once I was without a job, I was able to lend a hand. I think the stress of looking after a man who was essentially an eighty-year-old toddler would have killed my mother without my help. Alzheimer’s is hell,” she added.

Ali nodded again. Lynn’s tale of woe was appalling. “How’s your dad doing?” Ali asked.

“He passed away a few months ago,” Lynn replied. “I’m sorry he’s gone, but he was gone a long time before he died. It’s not easy, but my mother and I are starting to recover. It’s hard not to feel guilty about feeling relieved. Not everyone gets that. You need to have lived it to really understand. My mother has started reconnecting with her bridge-playing friends, and she’s taken up golf again. As for me? There’s a wonderful new man in my life. A real one this time,” she added with a shy laugh. “Without my coming out here to help my mom, I never would have met Chip.”

The sudden glow on Lynn’s face had nothing to do with makeup, and Ali found herself hoping that Chip was as nice a person as Lynn seemed to think he was.

Ali’s phone rang. The readout showed her mother’s number. A glance at the clock told her the luncheon was most likely over. “Sorry,” she said to Lynn. “I need to take this.” Into the phone, she added, “Hey, Mom, how did it go?”

“Harlan Masters is full of himself,” Edie muttered.

Ali laughed. “That’s hardly news,” she said. “Tell me something we didn’t already know.”

Ali’s longtime boyfriend, B. Simpson, owned High Noon Enterprises, now an internationally respected Internet security company, though the company still did what once was High Noon’s bread-and-butter business—security checks. The one they’d done on Harlan Masters revealed that he was a trust-fund baby. He had moved to Sedona from Southern California some five years earlier and had set out to bring Sedona up to what he regarded as an acceptable level of Southern California sophistication by running for mayor. During his first four-year term, he set out on a program to transform Sedona as far as rules and regulations were concerned. Having never gotten his hands dirty in the world of business, he did so without giving much thought to how much it would cost local businesses to implement some of his bright ideas.

The one that had galvanized Edie into running for office was a city-imposed requirement that restaurants inside the city limits post the calorie and fat content of each item on a menu. That might not have been much of a hardship for chain-type operations, but for struggling independents like the Sugarloaf Café, redoing the menus not once but twice—first for the calorie count and later for the fat content—had been a costly process. Naturally, Edie’s signature sweet rolls had been off the charts in both categories.

Emboldened by passing his restaurant regulations through a city council that was completely in the mayor’s pocket, Masters had set off on a campaign to outlaw contrails inside the city limits, thus forcing commercial airline traffic to detour around Sedona’s airspace. Edie thought the whole contrail controversy was nothing short of ridiculous.

“How did the meeting go?” Ali asked.

“He must have worked the word ‘old’ into every other sentence,” Edie grumbled. “As in ‘Now is no time to return to old, timeworn ideas.’ Or ‘Let’s not settle for old-fashioned thinking when what’s needed are progressive youthful ideas to carry us forward in the twenty-first century.’ Everything he said implied that I was old and decrepit, and it took every bit of restraint I could muster to keep from calling that little jerk a young whippersnapper.”

“Now, Mom,” Ali said. “Let’s not resort to name-calling this early in the process. In fact, let’s not resort to it at all. What were the reactions from the audience?”

“Three people came up to me afterward and offered to host coffee hours for me. I have their names and numbers.”

“You gave those to Jessica?”

Jessica Townley, a recent graduate from Sedona High School, was this year’s winner of the Amelia Dougherty Scholarship, a program Ali personally administered. In the fall, Jessica would be attending Arizona State University on a full-ride scholarship. Since her intention was to major in political science, she had volunteered to spend the summer working as an unpaid intern in Edie Larson’s campaign.

“Yes, I did,” Edie answered. “Do you want her to wait until you get back to schedule something?”

“That’s not necessary,” Ali said. “Jessica has access to your campaign schedule, and she’s perfectly capable of setting up events. When people say yes to something like that, it’s important to follow up with them right away. So have her call. If she has any problems, she knows she can always call me for backup. And now that you know Harlan is going to go after you on the age issue, we need to strategize on how to disarm that attack the next time you run into it. The best way to do it is turn it into a joke instead of getting all bent out of shape about it.”

“All right,” Edie agreed grudgingly. “I’ll give it some thought.”

“And give yourself the rest of the afternoon off,” Ali suggested.

“Can’t do that,” Edie replied. “I have a whole afternoon’s worth of doorbelling to do. Jessica said she’ll ride along on that, too.”

“Don’t overdo,” Ali advised.

“What?” Edie retorted. “Because I’m too old?”

“No,” Ali said, “because it’s a long campaign, and you need to pace yourself.”

When Ali hung up, Lynn Martinson was looking at her questioningly.

“My mother,” Ali explained. “She’s running for office for the first time—mayor of Sedona. She was at an event this afternoon, and her opponent is a young guy who thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

“I hope she wins,” Lynn said. “I’ve met a few guys like that in my time, and it’s fun to see them get taken down a peg.”

The door to the greenroom opened, and a tiny black-haired woman bounded through it. “All right,” she said. “I’m Carol, Scene of the Crime’s producer. We’re ready to rumble. Ms. Martinson, how about if we take you first?”

“Sure,” Lynn said, rising to her feet. “Is my makeup all right?”

Carol gave Lynn an appraising look. “We’ll do a few additions and corrections before we turn on the cameras, but you look all right to me.”

As Carol led Lynn out of the room, Ali turned on her iPad and switched over to her downloaded copy of A Tale of Two Cities. It was the latest in her self-imposed task of reading some of the classics—all those books she had heard about in school over the years but had never read. It was either that or sit there and worry about her mother’s political campaign.

Right that minute, reading seemed like a more productive use of her time—better than worrying. Either Edie would be tough enough to survive in the ego-bruising world of small-town politics, or she wouldn’t. However it went, there wasn’t much Ali could do about it.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 50 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Absolutely Famtastic!!!

    I am a big JA jance fan from the first book (Desert Heat) that I read a couple of years ago!!! I have read the JoAnna Brady series and the JP Beaumont series and couldn't put them down...needing more from her I tried book 1 of the Ali Reynolds series and didn't stop until I had read them all Deadly Stakes being the 8th of the series.

    I would recommend any and all JA Jance books!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2014

    Another great one

    as usual Jance does a great job - keeps the pages turning

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 25, 2014

    Another hit by J A Jance!

    Jance has done it again with her newest Ali Reynolds Book. I could hardly put it down. Cannot wait for the wedding book to get here!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Great

    Yae

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Through the heart....part one

    "It still doesn't feel right." I say, uncertain. "I have to cut a persons head off with this?" A shining steel axe weighs in my hands. "The handle is all wrong! And it's way too heavy." "Focus, Alice." A male voice, harsh and steady sounds. "And it's a vampire, not a person." I smile a little, annoyed yet bright. "Don't forget demons. And call me cougar. Everyone else does, Wiliam." I emphasize on his name and glare at him. "I prefer Will, or maybe Viper." He puts a hand on the back of his neck, pushing up some of the messy black hair that has grown long. "Here. I'll get Fred to work on it." I hand the axe over to his outstretched hand and run up the creaky, old stairs to the main room. "Hi fred!" I call to a girl. She looks up from a book and smiles. "Hi cougar! I just found some interesting info on that demon Will asked me to research." She hold a picture of a large, almost slug-like demon. It was covered in spikes and had a large spikey ball attacked to a chain held in its's short arms. As i look at the picture, I envision it in realy and shudder. "Let us know when it will be here. We need to stop it when we can." Will walks up behind me. I smile at fred (short for winifred) and run up to my room. Fred comes up soon after. "So, whats with you and Will." She asks as soon as she enters, closing the door behind her. "Nothing!" I retort, searching through my small chlice of clothing for something nice. "Right." Fred says sarcastically. "And you never talk to him because you're such great friends, hey, what are you looking for anyway?" She asks, looking over my shoulder. "Something nice to wear." I say. "Hows this?" A blue shirt with lace around the collar and botton edges rests in my hands. "Pretty! What for?" Fred asks suspicouslly. "My date with Will." I lool at her shocked expression, holding back a laugh. "An undercover thing. Several employees have been going missing a big company. We suspect vamps are heading it. Oh, and i've never talked to Will other than training, so there's no real difference. Now shoo. I have to change." Minutes later, i stand in front of a mirror, looking at my short, neck length, brown hair and face. It could be considered pretty when not battle scarred. My light brown eyes stare back at me as i check for any noticable wounds. None. My outfit covers any injury. A black dress that i had hidden from fred and a white sweater with black shoes, flats. I had avoided using heels just in case. I unbutton the sweater and tuck in two wooden stakes and a small knife. I open the door and head down to the main room. Four people sit in conversation. I look at them all for a minute. Will with tanned skin and bright blue eyes. Strong and kind. Fred, pale with dark brown hair and eyes. Intellegent and sweet. Melony, a little girl with green eyes and light golden-brown hair. Adorable and knowledgable. Flare, or Jacob, black hair and battle scarred skin. Fierce and protective. I walk over. "Hey Will, we going or not?" I ask, making voice sound impatient. The four of them look up. Fred smiles and winks. Melony grins and runs up, hugging me. Will and flare stare at me until Will stands, looking nice in his suit. "Let's go." We walk out, and i keep one hand close to my sweater, where i put the weapons.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2013

    Tiresome

    Too much tedious detail.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    This was good and moved along nicely

    This was a typically good book by J.A. Jance. It moved along nicely.... rather light reading...lighter than some of her others, but it held my interest all the way through.

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  • Posted July 30, 2013

    Good reading

    The protagonist is not my favorite in Ms Jance's repertoire but this was better than I expected.

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  • Posted June 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Ali Reynolds is not a police officer. Nor is she a private inve

    Ali Reynolds is not a police officer. Nor is she a private investigator. And it’s been a long time since she was a journalist. Nevertheless, she undertakes to investigate a murder under the guise of writing a free-lance article in this swashbuckling story which progresses slowly but surely to some sort of conclusion. It is the eighth novel in the series and familiarly follows the customary formula, actually growing out of a predecessor volume in which Ali solved a cyber-stalking crime involving one of the characters, Lynn Martinson, in the present plot.

    Lynn and her boyfriend are arrested on suspicion of murder when his ex-wife is found by a young man, A.J. Sanders, dead from a knife wound. Coincidentally, A.J.’s father is discovered nearby, shot in his head sitting in a car. This is the jumping off point for a more or less improbable plot which comes together in a predictable denouement.

    It’s a fairly straightforward tale, typical of the Ali Reynolds series, except for one surprise at the end. The writing flows and the reader turns pages despite almost knowing what comes next. Be that as it may, one can always enjoy J.A. Jance’s writing, and this is one is recommended.

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  • Posted June 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I have to say that this is the first Ali Reynolds mystery that I

    I have to say that this is the first Ali Reynolds mystery that I have read. I know eight books into a series that there would be a lot of background information that I would be missing out on. As I was reading, I didn’t feel that I needed all that information. It would have helped me understand the main characters actions but wasn’t necessary to the storyline.

    Former reporter Ali Reynolds learns that someone she knows is suspected in the killing of her current boyfriend’s ex-fiance. Lynn Martinson, the suspect and former victim of Richard Lowensdale, who Ali helped bring in. Ali is asked by Lynn’s mother to help her daughter because she knows that someone else was responsible for Gemma Ralston’s murder.

    Not only has Gemma’s body been found but also another man’s body was found not far from her. With the possibility of the two deaths related, the police and Ali try to connect dots that don’t seem to be matching up. And so starts another plot line in Jance’s novel. This one involves a boy named A.J. Sanders whose father was a criminal but who mysteriously shows back up and buys him a car for his 16th birthday and tells him of a secret box that holds the key to paying for his collage. On his quest to find this chest he stumbles upon a woman dying and in the hopes of saving her he sends a text to 911 only to realize if he is found at the crime scene then his mother will find out about his skipping school and his father’s secret stash. A.J. leaves the scene of the crime leaving behind his shovel.

    As the clues keep piling up the reader starts to wonder if this case will ever get solved. With several plot lines weaving in and around each other I was left confused because of the amount of heavy details that seemed to have no reason being added except maybe to confuse the reader, I had to give this a little lower rating. But in the end, this was a nice light mystery read and I think if you are a devoted J.A. Jance fan you won’t be disappointed. I for one will be looking to start this series from the beginning because I want to know more about Ali’s life.

    (I received this audiobook from the publisher at no charge and in no way influenced my review.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    I have read everyone of J.A.'s books and love the new introduction of Ali Reynolds to the collections. The story line, tension of the mystery and Ali's instincts are the making of a great afternoon's read.

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  • Posted May 12, 2013

    Great

    Wonderful author - I love all her books. Suspenseful and unpredictable

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  • Posted May 10, 2013

    Highly Recommend

    J.A. Jance does not disappoint. Her stand alone books or series are entertaining, thrilling, and twisty, never a dull page. This is a most read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    entertaining...good series.

    predictable but very well written...i always enjoy her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2013

    Never disappointed when reading one of JA Jance's books.   Looki

    Never disappointed when reading one of JA Jance's books.  
    Looking forward to more of her books; especially the Beaumont series.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    Great book

    Really enjoyed this book. A must read for J.A. Jance fans.

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  • Posted February 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I've been reading J.A. Jance for a number of years, following he

    I've been reading J.A. Jance for a number of years, following her Joanna Brady series, but funnily enough have never read any of the other three series she writes. Her latest book Deadly Stakes is the eighth entry in the Ali Reynolds mystery series.

    The opening chapters of Deadly Stakes were quite detailed (and folksy), filling in the background of many recurring characters and the goings-on in their lives. For someone who hadn't read the series, this was a good way to get to know the players. Ali is a reporter with ties to the police department as a reservist in Sedona, Arizona.

    Ali is asked by the mother of a woman suspected of murdering her boyfriend's ex wife to look into her case. There is a bit of a connection with a past investigation of Ali's and the suspect herself has faith that Ali can help find the truth. The body of the murdered woman was found by a local teenager, who's keeping secrets of his own. And then another body, that of a convicted counterfeiter, is found nearby. Is there a connection between the two bodies?

    Deadly Stakes (and Ali) rely upon a lot of coincidences, timely clues and fortuitous happening to solve the crime. "Wait, I almost forgot." or "You know all this how? A good buddy of mine works for them." Or interviewees 'spilling the beans' to Ali, who is calling herself a freelancer rather than a reporter. I found some of the plot stretched credibility, such as the chief of police asking Ali to investigate on the sly as he had misgivings about the prosecutor.

    One of Jance's strengths is in the building and continuation of her character's lives. I truly do enjoy the Sheriff Joanna Brady character. Maybe it's because I started at the beginning and have followed along with each new entry, but I just find her genuinely likable. I can't say the same for Ali. All the right elements are there, but I just found her grating.

    Deadly Stakes isn't a cozy mystery, but not a difficult whodunit either. It falls somewhere in the middle. I think readers who enjoy Catherine Coulter and Iris Johansen, for example, would enjoy this series.

    Sorry Ali, I really do prefer the Sheriff Brady stories. But, Deadly Stakes was a good book to while away a sleepy Sunday on the couch.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Can't get enough of Ali Reynolds

    Love to see Ali and B taking it to the next level. Another fun read by JA Jance.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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