Devil's Claw (Joanna Brady Series #8)

Devil's Claw (Joanna Brady Series #8)

4.5 30
by J. A. Jance

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Sheriff Joanna Brady is juggling a precarious overload in both her personal and professional life. The sudden death of her much-loved neighbor and handyman, Clayton Rhodes, creates further turmoil, leaving Joanna shocked, saddened, and the target of Clayton's irate and irrational daughter who accuses the Sheriff's Department of covering up a possible


Sheriff Joanna Brady is juggling a precarious overload in both her personal and professional life. The sudden death of her much-loved neighbor and handyman, Clayton Rhodes, creates further turmoil, leaving Joanna shocked, saddened, and the target of Clayton's irate and irrational daughter who accuses the Sheriff's Department of covering up a possible murder.

Soon Joanna discovers that investigating family hostilities is leading her down a twisted trail of hatred, greed, and far-reaching consequences into a dangerous world where violence is the first response and long-buried secrest are a reason to kill...or die.

About the Author:

J.A. Jance is the author of seven previous mysteries featuring Joanna Brady. She was brought up in Bisbee AZ, where the Brady series is set, and now lives in Bellevue, WA.

Editorial Reviews
For Sheriff Joanna Brady, the days leading up to her wedding to Butch Dixon are filled with joy, until duty calls. Her favorite neighbor, Clayton Rhodes, has died suddenly, and his spoiled, irrational daughter is accusing Joanna of murdering her father and covering up the crime. A woman just released from prison has been shot to death, and her runaway daughter is suspected of her murder. Now, as the body count mounts, and a hired gun's reach extends far beyond Cochise County, Joanna must look beyond the evidence to get to the end of a twisted trail of betrayal -- and decade-old secrets that someone will kill to keep.
Chicago Tribune
The best thing in J.A. Jance's books about Joanna Brady is the way she can move from an exciting, dangerous scene on one page to a sensitive, personal, touching moment on the next.
Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
A "good old" Joanna Brady murder mystery in which the sheriff is struggling with a precarious overload in both her personal and professional lives. "Brady is a genuine person, the kind I want working in my hometown." "A quick read, full of twists and turns that'll keep you guessing until the last page." "Jance at her best."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Southwestern mysteries continue to grow in popularity, with Jance's series, set in southern Arizona, one of the strongest entries in the subgenre. The new novel to feature Sheriff Joanna Brady opens at the entrance to a desert canyon called the Cochise Stronghold, where Sandra Ridder, who is part Apache, is trying to retrieve an item she buried eight years ago, before going to prison for killing her husband. The next day hikers find her corpse, while Sandra's 15-year-old daughter, Lucinda, and the girl's pet red-tailed hawk go missing. Could Lucinda, who seems to be a troubled loner, have killed her mother as revenge for her father's murder? Joanna starts to investigate shortly before she's to be married. Then Clayton Rhodes, the neighbor who helps feed Joanna's animals, dies suddenly, and unexpectedly bequeaths his ranch to her. Clayton's estranged daughter feels she should have inherited the property. Unreasonably and viciously, she blames Joanna for exerting undue influence over her father. The tangled threads of Joanna's personal life come close to overwhelming her professional one, and she has to exercise all of her time management skills to keep the murder inquiry on track. Her fianc , Butch Dixon, comes off as way too perfect to be human, but his parents, in an amusing touch, are seriously dysfunctional. Sometimes the dialogue is stiff, but generally this is a solid installment in a worthy series. The Arizona desert, as usual in Jance's mysteries, plays an unforgettable part in this atmospheric tale. Mystery Guild dual main selection. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady's personal and professional identities collide like runaway trains in this eighth adventure in the Joanna Brady series (Outlaw Mountain). A week before her marriage to Butch Dixon, Joanna inherits the adjacent ranch when her kindly old neighbor perishes in an exhaust-filled garage. Though the old man's estranged, well-heeled daughter Reba shows up wielding accusations, as usual Joanna's professional life eclipses personal problems. Half-Apache, teenaged loner Lucy Ridder goes on the lam with Big Red, the red-tailed hawk that is her pet and only friend, and when Lucy's newly paroled mom, Sandra, is found murdered in a remote wash, Joanna must name young Lucy "a person of interest." Was Sandra, once a militant Native American college student, in over her head with unknown persons, or was she simply the victim of domestic violence having shot Lucy's father in self-defense? Lucy and Big Red are the endearing pair in this suspense charmer. Highly recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/00.]-Susan A. Zappia, Paradise Valley Community Coll., Phoenix
School Library Journal
YA-Final preparations for Sheriff Joanna Brady's wedding are interrupted by the abrupt death of her elderly neighbor and by the slaying of a newly released convicted murderer, Sandra Ridder. The protagonist tries to balance the demands of her personal life with her professional priorities, but tensions escalate when the victim's daughter runs away from her grandmother's home in an attempt to protect herself from her mother's murderer. As the plot moves toward the final resolution, Brady's police skills and experience allow her to pull all the loose ends together, resulting in a story with never a dull moment. Readers of the earlier titles will recognize many of the characters, yet all of them are clearly drawn and have vivid personalities. Jance describes the Southwest desert both in terms of beauty and danger. The panoramic scenery and cloudless days realistically contrast with the rough terrain, the roads full of potholes and ruts, and dry, sometimes deadly land. Young adults who enjoy strong women as main characters and mystery as a genre will love reading about Sheriff Brady and the police matters she so ably handles.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With her mother, her former mother-in-law, her future mother-in-law, her daughter, and her fiancé all jockeying for her attention before the big day—her wedding is just a week away—Cochise County, Arizona, sheriff Joanna Brady hopes for a little peace and quiet at the office, but it is not to be. Unpopular teenager Lucy Ridder and her pet hawk Big Red are missing, and her mom Sandra, only one day past an eight-year prison term for killing her allegedly abusive husband, is lying dead in a culvert. Did Lucy murder mommy for doing in daddy those long years ago? Or did mommy's death hinge on the contents of the Tupperware container she buried just before being carted off to jail? Joanna's barely gotten started worrying about the Ridder woes when her octogenarian neighbor Clayton Rhodes dies and leaves her his acreage, placing her squarely in the crosshairs of his disinherited daughter Reba. What's more, an office romance will reactivate memories of Joanna's premarital pregnancy; the sheriff in the neighboring county won't share information; an unbreakable computer code pops up; and chances of Joanna finding Lucy ahead of a counterfeit federal agent look bleak. One more will die before Joanna can settle down to her wedding jitters, but by then it's too late—she's off to Paris on her honeymoon. The eighth Brady case (Outlaw Mountain, 1999, etc.) is most notable for the behavior of bridegroom Butch, who is so helpful, so unquestioningly supportive, that you know he'll make Joanna a great wife.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Joanna Brady Series, #8
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Lucy waited until she knew her grandmother was asleep before she left the house and quietly wheeled her bike out of the shed. The afternoon's bitter quarrel had continued to torment her the whole time she had sorted through the few possessions she would need to take with hera bedroll, a few clothes, a heavy, sheepskin-lined jacket, a canteen of water, some food pilfered from the kitchen, her grandmother's .22 pistol, and, of course, the diskette. Her mother's precious diskette. The diskette that had meant more to Sandra Ridder than anything else. That diskette, Lucy Ridder knew, was the whole reason her father had died.

It was cold enough outside that she could see her breath. Across the Sulphur Springs Valley the full moon had risen high over the horizon, casting enough of an eerie yellow glow across the landscape that Lucy could see to ride. After pushing the bike for the better part of half a mile, Lucy stopped and once again sent that same wild and keening cry off across the night-still desert. She called and waited. Moments later, she was rewarded by the flap of Big Red's wings overhead. Once he settled gently onto her leather-thong-wrapped handlebar, Lucy no longer felt nearly as alone or as frightened.

"Will she come, do you think?" Lucy asked the bird.

Big Red didn't answer, but then he didn't need to. After all, Lucy knew the answer to that question herself, She had known it all along. Of course Sandra Ridder would come, just as she had eight years earlier -- in secret, in the middle of the night, and without Grandma Yates' knowledge.

Big Red had learned to ride on the handlebars of Lucy's bikelong before he could fly. From the time he was little more than a ball of fluff, he had loved riding perched on the leatherwrapped handlebar with his wings half-spread and his hooked beak pointing into the wind. As he had grown, it seemed to Lucy that Big Red's partially unfurled wings always served to make them more aerodynamic.

They often took long weekend jaunts to the upper end of Cochise Stronghold. In the wild and protected reaches of the cliff-bound canyon where the noted Apache chieftain, Cochise, had often secluded his band, Lucy and her unlikely companion would while away the long weekend hours. This, however, was the first time that the two of them had made this pilgrimage together in the dark of night.

Three different times Lucy heard vehicles approaching from behind, and twice she met vehicles driving toward her. On each occasion, Lucy wheeled the sturdy mountain bike off the road. While Big Red hustled onto low-lying branches, Lucy disappeared into underbrush to wait until the danger of discovery was past.

Pumping along, Lucy felt physical warmth seeping back into her body right along with the anger she harbored toward her mother. And as she rode, the memory of that other nighttime trip to Cochise Stronghold -- one made from Tucson and in her mother's old Nissan -- was still vivid in Lucy's mind.

Sandra Ridder had come to the Lohse YMCA to collect herdaughter. Even though the ballet class had barely started, she had ordered Lucy to get dressed and come along. Her face had been bruised and bleeding and she seemed so agitated that at first Lucy had thought Sandra was drunk. That did happen at times, although it happened far less frequently now that Lucy's father had gone to treatment and quit drinking.

Once in the car, Lucy learned that her mother wasn't drunk. She was angry. Furious! As soon as the car doors closed, she had wrestled Lucy's backpack away from her daughter and dug through it, pawing all the way to the bottom.

"That son of a bitch!" she had exclaimed at last, pulling out the diskette Lucy's father had given her at lunchtime.

"I knew it had to be here!" Sandra continued. "They looked everywhere else, so I knew he must have given it to YOU."

Lucy didn't know who "they" were. But she did know that her father had placed the diskette in her backpack. She also knew that real physical danger lurked in her mother's anger, and right then fear overpowered everything else. She had shrunk into the far corner of the car seat and had tried not to listen as her mother ranted and raved about her father and about the terrible things he had done.

After they left the lights of Tucson behind them and all the time they were driving the familiar roads to Cochise County's Dragoon Mountains, Lucy had assumed they were going to see her two grandmothers. Grandma Yates, her mother's mother, and her great-grandmother, Christina Bagwell, lived just off Middlemarch Road in the foothills of the Dragoon Mountains. Instead, Sandra had driven her Nissan someplace else -- to a place that was nearby and almost as familiar as Grandma Yates' ranch -- Cochise Stronghold. The Ridders and Lucy's two grandmothers had often had family picnics in the campground there. This time, though, Sandra had pulled overand stopped right beside the entrance. As she put the car in park, Sandra had told Lucy to get in the backseat. "Go to sleep," she said. "And don't you make a sound."

Lucy hadn't made a sound, but she hadn't gone to sleep, either. Instead, peering out through the back window, Lucy had watched as her mother carefully removed a stack of fistsized rocks from beneath the rough-hewn FOREST SERVICE sign at the entrance to the park. Then, once the rocks had been moved aside, Sandra had hidden something deep in the earthen cavity created by the missing rocks. In the dark, Lucy had been unable to see the object her mother was so carefully and secretly burying, covering it over once again with the stack of rocks. Lucy assumed it had to be the diskette Sandra had retrieved from Lucy's backpack, but in the dark there was no way to tell for sure...

Devil's Claw. Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

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 five interrelated thrillers about the Walker family, as well as a volume of poetry. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Brief Biography

Bellevue, Washington
Date of Birth:
October 27, 1944
Place of Birth:
Watertown, South Dakota
B. A., University of Arizona, 1966; M. Ed. in Library Science, University of Arizona, 1970

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Devil's Claw (Joanna Brady Series #8) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another fine effort by Jance. Her characters are very beleivable and easy to visualize. She could give other Authors lessons. She portrays JoAnna Brady and her family and friends, and even her enemies, with great realism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I read from J.A. Jance, so I'm not very familiar with her work , so I'll try to read more of her later. This book tell us the story of a Joanna Brady, a sheriff from a samll town in Arizona. It tell us the story of a murder , a missing teenager and the fight for a will , everything happens just a week before her wedding takes place. This is an ok book , it has an interesting begining with a good plot , and it is really interesting to read . It would deserve 4 stars , but I didn't like the ending , it was a very good plot and I didn't like the way it finished , but that's just my opinion. Read it , it's a good book , it's just not that great , after reading this , I'm more interested in reading more books of J.A. Jance and more about the Story of Joanna Brady.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Joanna Brady is the sheriff of Chocise County, Arizona, but she is also a woman getting married in eight days. She is struggling to clear her calendar so she can enjoy a honeymoon. However, instead of a carefree time, Joanna is under siege in both her professional and personal lives.

Her mother is driving her crazy with wedding details. Her daughter fears that Joanna will no longer love her. Joanna¿s own psyche fears that marriage will destroy a great relationship.

A teenager, taking her pet hawk with her, has run away from home on the same night that the girl¿s mother is released from prison. She apparently observed someone murdering her mother and fled the scene with the computer disc that led to her mother¿s death. Joanna¿s next door neighbor dies and leaves the sheriff his ranch. The man¿s daughter is furious over the will and seeks evidence that Joanna killed her father. When another murder connected to the runaway occurs, Joanna knows she is up against a powerful adversary who will go to any length to make sure that past deeds stay buried.

DEVIL¿S CLAW is a great mystery as well as a heart wrenching family drama centering on a terrified teen with no one to turn to for help. In spite of being in a most harrowing predicament, the adolescent acts as a heroine with much inner strength. J.A. Jance does a brilliant job of showcasing Joanna as both a law enforcement official, a woman, and a mother. The three roles turn her into a delightful, vulnerable person just like you and me.

Harriet Klausner

FranklinB More than 1 year ago
I have now read all of the Joanna Brady series except the most recent, and I consider this to be the best, both in terms of plot and character development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The continuing saga of Joanna Brady #8 in J.A. Jance's Devils Claw was great! It had a very good storyline and cadence. Kept you guessing on "who did it." Highly recommended! Planning on reading the whole Joanna Brady series.
pjpat More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book as all of the Joanna Brady series I have read. They keep me interested and hard to put down.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading this one and it was wonderful I can not wait to get more from this author. I usually read true stories but this one makes you feel as if it were real and could really happen
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the earlier Joanna Brady books. I think I got bored with the search for Lucy, it was too drawn out. Still, I thought this was a worthwhile read. However, I think I am ready for the new Beaumont book headed out in February.
Guest More than 1 year ago
J. A. Jance has once again written a winner of a novel! Joanna Brady's character growth becomes more and more interesting. I can hardly wait for the next one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most enjoyable of this enjoyable series. Sheriff Brady's entire life is turned topsy turvy when her neighbo dies and she is accused of the murder by his daughter,while trying to solve a missing child report and the murder of the child's mother and getting ready for her own wedding. The plot is terrific, and as usual, J.A. Jance has written a winner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in, ready to be tested.