Desert Heat (Joanna Brady Series #1)

( 48 )

Overview

A cop lies dying beneath the blistering Arizona sun—a local lawman who may well have become the next sheriff of Cochise County. The police brass claim that Andy Brady was dirty, and that his shooting was a suicide attempt. Joanna Brady, his devoted wife and mother of their nine-year-old daughter, knows a cover-up when she hears one . . . and murder when she sees it. But her determined efforts to hunt down an assassin and clear her husband's name are placing Joanna and her surviving family in harm's way—because in...

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Overview

A cop lies dying beneath the blistering Arizona sun—a local lawman who may well have become the next sheriff of Cochise County. The police brass claim that Andy Brady was dirty, and that his shooting was a suicide attempt. Joanna Brady, his devoted wife and mother of their nine-year-old daughter, knows a cover-up when she hears one . . . and murder when she sees it. But her determined efforts to hunt down an assassin and clear her husband's name are placing Joanna and her surviving family in harm's way—because in the desert, the one thing more lethal than a rattler's bite . . . is the truth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jance ( Hour of the Hunter ) has created a taut and poignant mystery. Joanna Brady finds her husband, Andy, shot in the Arizona desert on the night of their tenth wedding anniversary. But this, and Andy's subsequent suspicious death in the hospital, is only the beginning of the destruction of the comfortable world of Joanna and her nine-year-old daughter, Jenny. The police decide that Andy, a sheriff's deputy, tried to commit suicide. He is further implicated as the hit man in a mob rub-out and fingered as a crooked cop with drug-cartel connections. Even his personal life is dragged through the mud, as allegations of an extramarital affair surface. Neither mother nor daughter is spared from the brutality of the accusations: the DEA comes after Joanna, while schoolmates taunt Jenny. All the while, Jance cross-cuts to the contract killer who shot Andy. The conclusion features a classic confrontation, but the post-showdown ending seems trite. Until that moment, however, Jance's tale crackles with tension. Joanna's struggle and pain are affecting; Jance writes with an understanding that character is destiny. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Castle's disturbing 1984 novel is told mostly through the eyes of Michael Louden, one of The Strangers, a separate breed waiting to murder the rest of humankind. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061774591
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Series: Joanna Brady Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 101,241
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

J. A. Jance

J. A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series, and four interrelated thrillers about the Walker family. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle and Tucson.

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

Chapter One



Joanna Brady stepped to the doorway of the screened back porch and stared out into the night. The moonlit sky was a pale gray above the jagged black contours of the Mule Mountains ten miles away. September's daytime heat had peeled away from the high Sonoran Desert of southeastern Arizona, and Joanna shivered as she stood still, listening to yipping coyotes and watching for traffic on the highway a mile and a half away. Beside her, Sadie, Joanna's gangly blue-tick hound, listened as well, her tail thumping happily on the worn, wooden floor of the porch.

"Where is he, girl?" Joanna asked. "Where's Andy?" Happy to have someone speaking to her, the dog once more thumped her long tail.

Up on the highway, a pair of headlights rounded the long curve and emerged from the mountain pass. Speeding tires keened down the blacktop, passing the Double Adobe turnoff without even slowing down. That one wasn't him, either. Disappointed, Joanna sighed and went back inside, taking the dog with her.

In the living room she could hear the drone of her mother's favorite television game show while Jennifer, her daughter, was eating dinner in the kitchen.

"Is Daddy coming now?" Jennifer asked.

Joanna shook her head. "Not yet," she answered, trying to conceal the hurt and anger in her voice. She kicked off her heels, poured herself another cup of coffee, and settled into the breakfast nook opposite her blonde, blue-eyed daughter. At nine, Jenny was a female mirror image of her father.

Despite Joanna's soothing words to thecontrary, Jennifer assessed her mother's mood with uncanny accuracy. "Are you mad at him?" she asked.

"A little," Joanna admitted reluctantly. A lot was more like it, she thought. It was a hell of a thing to be stood up like this on your own damn wedding anniversary, especially when Andy himself had insisted on the date and had madeall the arrangements. He was the one who had first suggested, and then insisted, that they get a room at the hotel and spend the night, reliving their comic opera wedding night from ten years before.

At the time Andy had suggested it, Joanna had asked him if he was sure. For one thing, staying in the hotel would cost a chunk of money, an added expense they could ill afford. For another, there was time. Not only was Andy a full-time deputy for the Cochise County Sheriff's department, he was also running for sheriff against his longtime boss, Walter McFadden.

The election was now less than six weeks away. Joanna had been through enough campaigns with her father to know that conserving both energy and focus was vital that close to election day. In the meantime, Joanna had her own job to worry about. Milo Davis, the owner of the insuranceagency where she worked as office manager, had offered her a partnership. To that end he had started sending her out on more and more sales calls, letting her earn commission over and above her office-duty pay. But it meant that she, too, was essentially holding down two full-time jobs.

Joanna was the first to admit that between the two of them, she and Andy had precious little time to spend together, but staying in the hotel overnight seemed to be overdoing it. Andy, however, had laughed aside all Joanna's objections and told her to be ready at six when he'd come by to pick her up.

Well, six had long since come and gone and he still wasn't home. Eleanor Lathrop, Joanna's mother, had been at the house watching television since five-thirty. Since six sharp, Joanna's small packed suitcase had sat forlornly by the back door, joined now by her discarded shoes, but at seven forty-five, Andrew Roy Brady was still nowhere to be found.

"Maybe he had car trouble," Jennifer suggested, snagging a piece of green chili from her plate and stuffing it back inside her grilled cheese sandwich from which she had carefully removed all the crusts. Joanna bit back the urge to tell Jenny to stop being silly, to shape up and eat her discarded bread crusts, and to stop casting herself in the role of family peacemaker, but Joanna Brady had embarked on a conscious struggle to be less like her own mother. She let it pass. After all, there was no sense in turning Jennifer into any more of a family Ping-Pong ball than she already was.

"You're right," Joanna agreed finally. "That's probably what happened. He'll be here any minute."

"Are you going to tell Grandma to go on home?" Jenny asked.

Joanna shook her head. "Not yet. We'll wait a little longer."

Jenny finished her sandwich, pushed her plate aside, and started in on the dish of sliced peaches. Eva Lou Brady, Joanna's mother-in-law, had canned them herself with fruit from the carefully nurtured freestone peach trees planted just outside the kitchen door. Joanna got up and dished out a helping of peaches of her own. Two hours past their usual dinner hour, it was a long time since lunch, and she was starving.

"Was I premature?" Jennifer asked suddenly.

The jolting question came from clear out in left field. A slice of peach slid down sideways and caught momentarily in Joanna's throat. She coughed desperately to dislodge it.

"Premature?" Joanna choked weakly when she was finally able to speak.

Joanna Brady had always known that eventually she'd have to face up to the discrepancy between the timing of her wedding anniversary and Jenny's birthday six short months later. But she had expected the question to come much later, when Jennifer was thirteen or fourteen. Not now when she was nine, not when Joanna hadn't had time to prepare a suitable answer.

"What makes you ask that?" she asked, stalling...

Desert Heat. Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is such a great start to a great series. I found it n my Aunt's motorhome. I didn't think it was going to be anything specail, but it was great! Having grown up in Tucson and Sierra Vista, it gave me a whole new apprecitaion for the series. The story is amazing. It is just one of those rare books that you can't wait to get back to because you're mind is just so wrapped up in it, it feels like you are still insie of it even after you are done reading for the day. The rest of the books just get better. When I get a new book of hers, I don't know what to do with myself. Anyway, read it. You'll know what I mean.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2013

    This is the first book of J.A. Jance's that I have read. Being

    This is the first book of J.A. Jance's that I have read. Being the first of the series, it does a great job of setting up the characters for the rest of the series while getting you hooked on the general storyline. I think that you will like this book if you are ready for some crime solving and a tough woman with a soft heart.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2012

    Could not put it down!

    I am SUCH a picky reader. I get really annoyed with myself, because sometimes it's really difficult to find a book that I'd like to read. I was looking for a new, established author who had lots of published books to read to keep me occupied for a good while. I found her. I did NOT want your typical homicide detective/courtroom/medical examiner novel that is ubiquitous now a days. This is the best book I've read in a long time and I plan to read all the Brady novels. I also am really impressed with the J.P. novels. I have yet to read the other series. Her books are ORIGINAL which is so refreshing...they have REAL suspense, and an actual PLOT. I highly recommend this if you're looking for a truly well written page turner!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2013

    Recommended

    I enjoyed the book and have started reading the second book in the series. I especially enjoy these books since I live in Cochise County and was a Deputy Sheriff for over 6 years back in the late 70's and early 80's.

    The writing is easy to read and the book flows smoothly. The only thing that slowed progress was Jance spent a lot of time on the personal lives of the characters. I would have liked more of the police related investigation stuff.

    That being said, I recommend the book to everyone who enjoys a good drama and "who done it" book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    Great reading.

    I truly enjoyed Desert Heat by J.A. Jance, the first in the Joanna Brady series. It has likeable characters and a great plot and ending. It sets up Joanna Brady as an established plot character, readying her for the second in the series, Tomb of Courage, which I am reading now.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    1st in a series of 13 books, a Joanna Brady series

    If you like a bit of a romantic mystery, this series fits the bill. My suggestion is to read them in order it kind of makes the series flow one book to another keeping the story line in line.

    I like this series because it is about a woman sheriff that has taken charge of her life after a traumatic experience (the death of her husband)
    The series has lots of great charecters and action.

    I am on the fourth in the series and I can't wait to move on to the next. one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    First of a long unremarable series since cant recall either the heroine or the western state

    Borrow not buy. Is not a keeper or a re read might find at your library book sale why must we have these dull oldies on for week(s)? Page counter

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    Great book

    This is a good mystery with a spunky female as the main charcter. This is the first book in the Joanna Brady series. It has a plot that keeps you guessing and also has interesting characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    Great book!

    Needed a new author and thought I would try J A Jance. Loved the book. Kept me wanting to read more. Will be reading all the books in the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    JA JANCE DESERT HEAT

    LOVE J .A JANCE. BOOKS ALL HAVE ORIGINAL PLOTS, TWIST AND TURNS. I AM READING THE JOANNA BRADY SERIES AND PLAN ON READING HER OTHER SERIES AS WELL.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    If you love Arizona and hometown America, this is for you

    This is like a good USTV soap set in small Town Arizona, bit like the Waltons but the Heroine is a cop. Thats not meant to be a criticism, its just comfortable where the good guys and bad guys are obvious and telegraphed. Its a good lazy read and I will get the others in the Series, buying them in date order so as not to get ahead of the Brady Family's development. Got me hooked!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2014

    This series is western state mystery woman in office combo

    Despite this i do not find the main characters likeable lacks humor and i really dont care about ranches etc and never watched gun smoke of all the lady sheriffs series they are borrow not keepers so check out e books at your local library. You do better with lady police in the southern ststes m.a.@sparta

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Sorry wrong book!

    It iz titeled Deserted By Edward Ballamy

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Neko

    "Hello?"

    0 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2013

    Great series

    I love reading this series. I really enjoy the characters. I am rereading this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013

    Reeddoglr@aol.com

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    Goodmorning people

    So so so so so so so so so so so so so
    BORED...................... lets have a party at this book

    0 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    Rg

    Walks in. Pfffft that kid think hes mister big and bad (-.-) ive seen butterflies tougher. *talks to herself* grrrrrrrr..... *scowls* i

    0 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2013

    Sandshade's story part 2

    "What?" Sandkit recalled Nightbriar looking unexpectingly at Ivykit and smiling. She remembered Nightbriar flinching when Marshkit saddly said thier father must of died. Nightbriar had said: " That wouldent happen in a long time," When Tidekit was afraid he'd die young. She recalled Ivykit falling into the river and Nightbriar saving him. " What is right," mewed Ivykit. " Some ranks are a little too risky to mate,let alone medicine cat. Just saying!" Puddlekit nodded. " Well, Nightbriar and me are in love... So...." Sandkit sighed. The Clan deputy,Orangewhiskers,padded over to the kits. " Want to play Clan?" All five kits bounced. " Our Clan will be called HazelClan. And i'm Orangestar,the leader. Sandshade will be my deputy. Puddlesplash is medicine cat. Okay,let the game begin." **** " Im tired" Ivykit was padding up to the moutainside with Orangewhiskers and Greenfeather flanking her,Rosepaw,the new apprentice,akwardly limping by her side,and her Littermates padding beside her,and Sandkit sighed. For the sake of StarClan! But Ivykit was a pretty good role model for Padpaw,Holepaw,and Wetpaw,the other naughty apprentices. They were learning moves with their mentors,And Rosepaw padded to her mentor,Heronleaf. Greenfeather padded up to his apprentice,Padpaw. The apprentices were on the last assesment. Soon Wetpaw was sitting by his mentor,Orangewhiskers,and Swampstar sitting on the rock. " All cats who climb the tallest peaks gather under the Cloudrock for a Clan meeting!"
    OAK'S DUD (WELL,A DUD IN MY OPINION IS WHATS HAPPENING)
    Oak the kittypet watched in horror as the foxes,thier Russet-red fur stained with blood,and thier paws wet with blood,lean over the dead body of his mother,Mist,satisfied. Then they ran speedily away from the tunnel. Oak found Herb & Tree,his sisters,leaning over the body of Jayjaw,a rogue that was thier father. At least the two loved ones were together. Water closed up on Herb,and Tree pushed her up. The cats padded away,forever covered in pure grief.

    0 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2012

    Just got done reading this book and i thought it was a great boo

    Just got done reading this book and i thought it was a great book!! I would definitely recommend it to people. Getting ready to read the 2nd book of the series, Tombstone Courage!!

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