Hand of Evil (Ali Reynolds Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this heart stopping New York Times bestseller, Jance weaves a masterful story of suspense that travels over generations, revealing two very different women with one horrifying secret.

With his hand trapped in the door of a speeding car, a man struggles to remain upright as he’s dragged along a deserted stretch of San Juan Road in Phoenix’s South Mountain Preserve. It’s the perfect place to drive a man to his grave—literally. Starting with a...
See more details below
Hand of Evil (Ali Reynolds Series #3)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price

Overview

In this heart stopping New York Times bestseller, Jance weaves a masterful story of suspense that travels over generations, revealing two very different women with one horrifying secret.

With his hand trapped in the door of a speeding car, a man struggles to remain upright as he’s dragged along a deserted stretch of San Juan Road in Phoenix’s South Mountain Preserve. It’s the perfect place to drive a man to his grave—literally. Starting with a crime so gruesome even prowling coyotes keep their distance from the remains, a killer begins crisscrossing the Southwest on a spree of grisly murders.

A hundred miles away, Ali Reynolds is grieving. The newscasting job she once delighted in is gone and so is the philandering husband she loved and thought she knew. When a wealthy but distant member of her family unexpectedly asks her for a meeting, Ali wonders what it can mean. Before she can satisfy her curiosity, though, Ali receives another startling call: a friend’s teenage daughter has disappeared. Ali offers to help, but in doing so, she unknowingly begins a quest that will reveal a deadly ring of secrets, at the center of which stand two undiscriminating killers...
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Jance keeps former L.A. TV news anchor Ali Reynolds in her native Arizona for her third lead appearance (following Web of Evil). Ali, still recovering from the murder of her not-quite-ex-husband, is aided by her parents and her old high school chum, newly divorced detective and marine reservist Dave Holman. Meanwhile, wealthy, reclusive Arabella Ashcroft, whose family's college scholarship program supported Ali as an undergrad, has read Ali's grief-filled blog, cutlooseblog.com, and wants Ali's help in writing an incest memoir: elderly Arabella says that her childhood was despoiled by a late stepbrother, Bill, and that she's being threatened by his son should she go through with writing about it. Soon after, Dave's daughter Crystal disappears from the Las Vegas home of his ex- and her new husband; Dave seeks Ali's counsel before barreling out there. Jance crowds the book with subplots, and her characters air a lot of opinions about sexual abuse and health care. But sparks between Ali and Dave and an upbeat ending keep this latest Ali outing on track. (Dec.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Los Angeles Times

"Jance starts her books fast...and keeps things moving with cinematic panache...engaging and entertaining."

People

"Jance delivers a devilish page-turner."

From the Publisher
"Jance starts her books fast...and keeps things moving with cinematic panache...engaging and entertaining." — Los Angeles Times

"Jance delivers a devilish page-turner." — People

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416554608
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 12/18/2007
  • Series: Ali Reynolds Series , #3
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 10,826
  • File size: 416 KB

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."

Read More Show Less
    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


Preface

When the car door slammed shut on his hand, the universe came to a stop and nothing else mattered. Nothing. He dropped to his knees, howling in agony while a nearby coyote, startled by the sound, responded with a howl of its own. Rigid with pain, at first he couldn't even reach for the door handle. By the time he did, it was too late. The door lock inside the vehicle had already clicked home.

"Please," he begged. "For God's sake, open the door."

But the answer to that was no -- an unequivocal no. The engine turned over and the car began to move.

"You can't do this," he screamed. "You can't!"

By then the pavement was moving beneath him, slowly at first, then faster and faster. He held out his other hand, trying to brace himself or somehow pull himself back to his feet. For a moment that almost worked and he was close to upright, but then the speed of the car outdistanced his scrambling feet and he fell again, facedown this time, with the full weight of his body pulling on the exploding pain in his fingers.

As the speed of the vehicle increased, so did his agonized screams. The parking lot's layer of loose gravel scraped and tore at him, shredding his blue-and-white jogging suit; shredding his skin. By the time the hurtling car bounced over the first speed bump, he was no longer screaming. Plowing face-first into the second one momentarily knocked him unconscious.

He came to when the car door opened. Once his trapped hand was released from the door frame, he fell to the ground. He couldn't actually see the car or even the ground for that matter. He seemed to have been struck blind. Nor could he differentiate the pain in his crippled hand from the agony in the rest of his tortured body, but his ears still worked. He heard the car door slam shut again and felt the spray of gravel from the tires as it drove away into the night, leaving him in absolute darkness.

He lay there for a long time, knowing he was barely alive and feeling his life's blood seeping out through layers of damaged skin. He tried crawling, but he couldn't make that work.

"Help," he called weakly. "Somebody, please help me."

In the wilds of Phoenix's South Mountain Preserve, only a single prowling coyote heard the dying man's final whispered plea for help. The coyote was on the trail of his dinner -- an elusive bunny -- and he paid no attention.

No one else did, either.

* * *

Sybil Harriman strode through the early morning chill and reveled in the sunlight and the clear crisp air. Across the valley, she could see the layer of smog settling in over the rest of the city, but here it was cold and clear -- cold enough to see her breath and make her nose run and her eyes water, but not cold enough to scare her away from walking the full course of the park's Alta Trail and back to the parking lot along the Bajada.

She had been warned that Alta was "too difficult" for someone her age, and that she certainly shouldn't walk it alone. So she did so, at least twice a week. Because she could. And as she walked along, huffing and puffing a little, truth be known, she was also drinking in the view and the cactus and the birds -- birds so different from the ones she'd grown up with back in Chicago -- and she was also thinking about how wrong she'd been and wishing things had been different.

Herman had wanted to move here the moment he retired from working for Merck. She was the one who had fought it, saying they should stay where they were in order to be closer to the kids and grandkids, although a lot of good that had done. Finally, when Herm's arthritis had gotten so bad that he could barely walk, she had relented. Now she was sorry they hadn't come sooner, while Herman would have been able to reap some of the benefits of desert living.

His arthritis had improved so much once they were in Arizona it was unbelievable, but then the rest of it had happened. The dry climate could do nothing at all to stave off the ravages and gradual decline that was Alzheimer's. As for the kids? Once Herm died, it had been plain enough that what they wanted more than anything was to get their greedy little hands on their father's money. Well, thanks to the trust Herm had wisely insisted on setting up, they weren't getting any of that, not until Sybil was damned good and ready. And that was another reason she walked every single day. She was determined to live as long and as well as she could.

Let 'em wait, she told herself fiercely as she marched along. They can wait until hell freezes over.

When she returned to Chicago for Herm's funeral, her friends there hardly recognized her. They thought she had dropped the

excess weight she had carried all those years in a fit of sudden grief. In actual fact, the process had been much less abrupt than that -- and much more permanent. She had started by walking four miles each day on the flat but circular streets in their Awatukee neighborhood. Later she had forced herself up and down the steeper grades and gradually more and more difficult trails throughout South Mountain Preserve.

Sybil was one of the early birds this crisp January morning. She had seen not a soul on her morning walk -- at least no other humans -- in the course of her almost three solitary hours. There had been plenty of bunnies, however, and scads of other early birds -- doves, quail, skittish roadrunners, breakfasting cactus wrens, finches, colorful hummingbirds, hawks, and even an ebony-feathered, red-eyed phainopepla. Now, as she approached the spot where the trail crossed San Juan Road, it was close to midmorning and the sun was high.

San Juan Road had been closed indefinitely for some strange reason, so there shouldn't have been any traffic. Still, Sybil was too much of a city girl to cross a road or a street without looking both ways. And that's when she saw it -- what appeared to be a pile of rags or trash lying in the middle of the roadway some thirty or forty yards northeast of the now abandoned San Juan parking lot.

Offended that someone would toss out a load of garbage and leave it there in the road, Sybil headed in that direction. She was determined to clean up the mess and haul it off to the nearest garbage containers. Ten yards or so away from the debris field, however, she saw the blood.

With a trembling hand, she pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911. "Emergency operator. What are you reporting?"

Sybil was closer to the mess now -- much too close -- and wished she wasn't. There was blood everywhere. It was hard to tell that the flayed and bloody pulp inside the pile of shredded clothing was even human, but she knew it was.

"A body," she managed at last. "I've just found a human body lying here in the middle of the road."

She didn't hear the panic in her voice, but the operator evidently did. "Calm down," the operator advised her. "What is your name and your location?"

Sybil took a deep breath and forced herself to get a grip. "Sybil Harriman," she replied. "I'm in the park -- South Mountain Preserve. The body is just to the east of the abandoned parking lot on San Juan Road."

"Units are on the way," the operator told her briskly. "Are you sure the person is dead? Did you check for a pulse?"

Sybil looked at the mound of bloody flesh, searching for wrists. One hand, virtually skinless, was little more than a bloody stump. The other hand contained a relatively recognizable thumb, but the four fingers seemed to have been mashed flat. Sybil knew at once there would be no pulse in either one of those two mangled wrists nor would there be any possibility of bringing the bloodied victim back to life.

"He's dead," she whispered to the operator. "Sorry. I've got to hang up now."

Sybil snapped the phone shut. Then, gagging, she staggered over to the edge of the road and promptly lost the single banana she had eaten for breakfast.

As she straightened up and waited, listening for approaching sirens, Sybil Harriman knew it was the last banana she would eat for a very long time.

Copyright © 2007 by J.A. Jance

Chapter One

With her laptop asleep and perched virtually untouched on her crossed legs, Ali Reynolds stared into the flames of the burning gas log fireplace. She was supposed to be working on her blog, cutlooseblog.com, but on this chilly January morning she wasn't. Or maybe she was. She was trying to think of what to say in today's post, but her mind remained stubbornly blank -- right along with her computer screen.

Ali had started cutloose in the aftermath of the sudden and almost simultaneous ends of both her television newscasting career and her marriage. Back then, fueled by anger, cutloose had been a tool for dealing with the unexpected bumps in her own life. To her surprise, what had happened to her was far more commonplace than she had known, and what she had written in cutloose had touched chords in the lives of countless other women.

Since the murder of Paul Grayson, Ali's not quite, but nearly ex-husband, cutloose had morphed into something else entirely. For weeks now it had focused on grief and grieving -- on the pitfalls and setbacks that lie in wait for those attempting to recover from the loss of a loved one or even a not-so-loved one. Ali had learned enough from her readers that she could almost have declared herself an expert on the subject if it hadn't been for the inconvenient reality that she had zero perspective on the topic. She was still too deep in grief herself. As her mother, Edie Larson, would have said, drawing on her endless supply of platitudes: She couldn't see the forest for the trees.

Because Ali was back in her hometown of Sedona, Arizona, grieving. She grieved for a phantom of a marriage that had evidently never been what she had thought it was and for a job she had loved but which had come with zero job security and no reciprocal loyalty.

Having people write to her and tell her that "someday you'll be over it" or "it doesn't matter how long it takes" wasn't helping Ali Reynolds. She couldn't yet tell what she was supposed to be over. Was she supposed to be over Paul's death or over his many betrayals? How long would it take her to move beyond the shock of learning of the child -- a little girl -- her husband had fathered out of wedlock while he was still married to Ali? Ali hadn't even known of Angelina Roja's existence until after Paul's death, and looking out for the financial welfare of the child and her mother had made tying up Paul's estate that much more complicated.

There were times Ali felt downright resentful when she heard from widows -- real widows whose husbands had been faithful, honorable men -- who were struggling with their own overwhelming sense of loss. It was all she could do sometimes to keep from writing back to them and saying, "Hey, you, don't you know how lucky you were? At least your dead husband's not driving you nuts from beyond the grave."

Sam, Ali's one-eyed, one-eared sixteen-pound tabby cat, shifted uneasily on the back of the couch behind her and let one paw fall on Ali's shoulder. Sam's presence in Ali's life was supposed to have been temporary. Sam had belonged to Matt and Julie Bernard, children of Ali's murdered friend, Reenie Bernard. When the children had gone to live with their grandparents, Sam had been unable to join them and Ali had taken Sam in. Ali had never liked or particularly disliked cats. She had never thought about them much one way or the other -- and Sam was anything but outgoing or sociable. But now, almost a year since Sam's unexpected arrival, Ali had started thinking of the animal in terms of "my cat" rather than "their cat."

Ali turned and scratched the seemingly permanent frown lines on Sam's ugly forehead. "How about if you do the blog this morning?" she asked.

Sam simply yawned, closed her one good eye, and went back to sleep. When the doorbell rang, Sam leaped to life. Spooked by newcomers of any kind, the cat scrambled off the couch and disappeared from view. Ali knew from past experience that it would probably be several hours before she'd be able to coax the wary feline back out of hiding.

Putting the laptop on the coffee table, Ali hurried to the door. She was expecting Kip Hogan, her parents' handyman, to drop off her refinished bird's-eye maple credenza. That and the comfy leather sofa were the two pieces of furniture she had brought to her mountaintop mobile home with her from her former home digs in L.A. The top of the credenza had been damaged when someone had carelessly deposited a wet vase on it. Now, after careful sanding and varnishing, Ali's father assured her that the wood had been restored to its former glory.

Except, when Ali looked out the peephole, Kip Hogan was nowhere in sight. The man on Ali's front porch, a wizened but dapper-looking elderly gentleman in a suit and tie, was holding a small envelope. He looked somewhat familiar, but she couldn't quite place him. In the old days, growing up in smalltown Arizona, Ali wouldn't have hesitated at opening the door to a stranger, but times had changed in Sedona. More important, Ali had changed. She cautiously cracked the door open but only as far as the length of the security chain.

"May I help you?" she asked.

"Ms. Reynolds?" the man asked. He wore a brimmed leather cap, which he tipped respectfully in Ali's direction.

"Yes."

"A message for you, madam," he said politely. Removing a soft leather driving glove, he proffered the envelope through the narrow opening. "From Miss Arabella Ashcroft."

Ali recognized the name at once. "Thank you." She took the envelope and started to close the door, but the man stopped her.

"If you'll forgive me, madam, I was directed to wait for an answer."

Using her finger, Ali tore open the creamy white envelope. It was made from expensive paper stock, as was the gold-bordered note card she found inside. Written across it, in spidery, old-fashioned script was the following: Dear Alison, Please join me for tea this afternoon if at all possible. 2:30. 113 Manzanita Hills Road. Miss Arabella Ashcroft.

A summons from Miss Arabella, one of Sedona's more formidable dowagers, was not to be taken lightly or ignored.

"Of course," Ali said at once. "Tell her I'll be there."

"Would you like me to come fetch you?" the messenger asked, gesturing over his shoulder at the venerable bright yellow Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud idling in Ali's driveway.

"Oh, no," Ali told him. "I can get there on my own. I know the way."

And she did, too, despite the fact that it had been twenty-five years earlier when she had last had afternoon tea with Arabella Ashcroft and her equally daunting mother, Anna Lee, at the imposing Ashcroft home on Manzanita Hills Road.

Ali's visitor bowed slightly from the waist and backed away from the door. "Very well," he said. "I'll tell Miss Arabella she can expect you." He tipped his cap once again, turned on his heel, and marched away. Once he drove out of sight, Ali closed the door. Then, with both the note card and envelope in hand, she returned to the couch lost in a haze of memories.

On a Friday afternoon two weeks before Ali had been scheduled to graduate from Cottonwood's Mingus Mountain High School, she had bounded into her parents' diner, Sedona's Sugarloaf CafŽ, for her after-school shift. All through high school she had helped out by waiting tables after school and during Christmas and summer vacations. As she tied on her apron she spotted an envelope with her name on it propped up next to the cash register. There was no stamp or return address, so obviously it had been hand delivered.

"What's this?" she had asked Aunt Evie, her mother's twin sister and her parents' full partner in the restaurant venture.

"It's still sealed, isn'tit?" Aunt Evie had asked. "How about if you open it and find out?"

Ali had opened the envelope on the spot. Inside she had found a note card very similar to the one she had received just now: "Please join my daughter and me for tea, this coming Sunday, May 21, 2:30 p.m. at our home, 113 Manzanita Hills Road, Sedona, Arizona." The note had been signed Anna Lee Ashcroft, Arabella's mother.

"Tea!" Ali had exclaimed in disbelief. "I've been invited to tea?"

Taking the note from Ali's hand, Aunt Evie examined it and then handed it back. "That's the way it looks," she said.

"I've never been invited to tea in my life," Ali said. "And who all is going? Are you invited?"

Aunt Evie shook her head.

"Is anyone else I know invited, then?" Ali asked. "And why would someone my age want to go to tea with a bunch of old ladies in the first place?"

"You'll want to go if you know what's good for you," Aunt Evie had said severely. "But this doesn't give us much time."

"Time for what?" Ali had asked.

"To get down to Phoenix and find you something appropriate to wear," Aunt Evie had answered.

Ali's high school years had been tough ones for the owners and operators of the Sugarloaf CafŽ. Things had been so lean during Ali's junior year that she had turned down an invitation to the prom rather than admit she didn'thave a formal to wear and couldn't afford to buy one.

By the end of her senior year, things were only marginally better, but she was astonished when Aunt Evie took the whole next day -- a Saturday -- off work. She drove Ali to Metrocenter, a shopping mall two hours away in Phoenix, where they spent the whole day at what Ali considered to be the very ritzy Goldwater's Department Store putting together a tea-appropriate outfit. Aunt Evie had charged the whole extravagant expense -- a stylish linen suit, silk blouse, and shoes -- to her personal account. The loan of Aunt Evie's fake pearls would complete the outfit.

At the time, Ali had been too naive to question her aunt's uncharacteristic behavior. Instead she had simply accepted Aunt Evie's kindness at face value.

The next week at school, Ali had held her breath hoping to hear that some of her classmates had also received invitations to the unprecedented Ashcroft tea, but no one had. No one mentioned it, not even Ali's best friend, Reenie Bernard, so Ali didn't mention it, either.

Finally, on the appointed day, Ali had left her parents and Aunt Evie hard at work at the Sugarloaf doing Sunday afternoon cleanup and had driven herself to Anna Lee Ashcroft's Manzanita Hills place overlooking downtown Sedona. Compared to her parents humble abode out behind the restaurant, the Ashcroft home was downright palatial.

Ali had driven up the steep, blacktopped driveway and parked her mother's Dodge in front of a glass-walled architectural miracle with a spectacular view that encompassed the whole valley. Once out of the car, Ali, unaccustomed to wearing high heels, had tottered unsteadily up the wide flagstone walkway. By the time she stepped onto the spacious front porch shaded by a curtain of bloom-laden wisteria, her knees were still knocking but she was grateful not to have tripped and fallen.

Taking a deep, steadying breath, Ali rang the bell. The door was opened by a maid wearing a black-and-white uniform who led her into and through the house. The exquisite furniture, gleaming wood tables, and lush oriental rugs were marvelous to behold. She tried not to stare as she was escorted out to a screened porch overlooking an immense swimming pool. Her hostess, a frail and seemingly ancient woman confined to a wheelchair and with her legs wrapped in a shawl, waited there while another somewhat younger woman hovered watchfully in the background.

Ali was shown to a chair next to a table set with an elaborate collection of delicate cups, saucers, plates, and silver as well as an amazing collection of tiny, crustless sandwiches and sweets.

"So," the old woman said, peering across the table at Ali through a pair of bejeweled spectacles. "I'm Mrs. Ashcroft and this is my daughter, Arabella. You must be Alison Larson. Let's have a look at you."

Feeling like a hapless worm being examined by some sharp-eyed, hungry robin, Ali had no choice but to endure the woman's silent scrutiny. At last she nodded as if satisfied with Ali's appearance. "I suppose you'll do," she said.

Do for what? Ali wondered.

"Your teachers all speak very highly of you," Anna Lee said.

Ali should have been delighted to hear that, but she couldn't help wondering why Anna Lee Ashcroft had been gossiping about her with Ali's teachers at Mingus Mountain High. As it was, all Ali could do was nod stupidly. "Thank you," she murmured.

"I understand you want to study journalism," Anna Lee continued.

Ali had discussed her long-held secret ambition once or twice with Mrs. Casey, her journalism teacher, but since going to college seemed like an impossible dream at the moment, Ali was trying to think about the future in somewhat more realistic terms -- like maybe going to work for the phone company.

"I may have mentioned it," Ali managed.

"You've changed your mind then?" Anna Lee demanded sharply. "You're no longer interested in journalism?"

"It's not that," Ali said forlornly, "it's just..."

"Just what?"

"I still want to study journalism," Ali said at last, "but I'll probably have to work a couple of years to earn money before I can think about going to college." It was a painful admission. "My parents really can't help out very much right now. I'll have to earn my own way."

"You're telling me you're poor then?" Anna Lee wanted to know.

Ali looked around the room. Even out on this screened patio, the elegant furnishings were far beyond anything Ali had ever seen in her own home or even in her friend Reenie Bernard's far more upscale surroundings. Ali had never thought of herself or of her family as poor, but now with something for comparison she realized they probably were.

"I suppose so," Ali said.

Without another word, Anna Lee Ashcroft grasped the handle of a small china bell and gave it a sharp ring. Almost immediately a man appeared bearing a tray -- a silver tray with a silver tea service on it. Remembering the scene now, Ali couldn't help but wonder if that man and the sprite who had delivered that morning's envelope weren't one and the same -- albeit a few decades older.

The man had carefully placed the tea service on the table in front of Anna Lee. She had leaned forward and picked up a cup. "Sugar?" she asked, filling the cup to the brim and handing it over with a surprisingly steady hand.

Ali nodded.

"One lump or two?"

"Two, please."

"Milk?"

"No, thank you."

Arabella moved silently to the foreground and began deftly placing finger sandwiches and what Ali would later recognize as petit fours onto delicately patterned china plates. Mrs. Ashcroft said nothing more until the butler -- at least that's what Ali assumed he was -- had retreated back the way he had come, disappearing behind a pair of swinging doors into what Ali assumed must lead to a hallway or maybe the kitchen.

Ali juggled cup, saucer, napkin, and plate and hoped she wasn't doing something terribly gauche while Anna Lee Ashcroft poured two additional cups -- one for her daughter and one for herself.

"I don't have a college education, either," Anna Lee said at last. "In my day young women of my social standing weren't encouraged to go off to college. When Arabella came along, her father sent her off to finishing school in Switzerland, but that was it. Furthering her education beyond that would have been unseemly."

No comment from Ali seemed called for, so she kept quiet and concentrated on not dribbling any tea down the front of her new silk blouse.

"But just because my daughter and I don't have the benefit of a higher education," Anna Lee continued, "doesn't mean we think it's unimportant, right, Arabella?"

Arabella nodded but said nothing. Sipping her tea, she seemed content to let her mother do the bulk of the talking, but there was something in the daughter's wary silence that made Ali uneasy.

"You must be wondering why you've been asked to come here today," Anna Lee continued.

"Yes," Ali said. "I am."

"This is the first time I've done this," Anna Lee said, "so it may seem a bit awkward. I've been told that most of the time announcements of this nature are made at class night celebrations or at some other official occasion, but I wanted to do it this way. In private."

Ali was still mystified.

"I've decided to use some of my inheritance from my mother to establish a scholarship in her honor, the Amelia Dougherty Askins Scholarship, to benefit poor but smart girls from this area. You've been selected to be our first recipient -- as long as you go on to school, that is."

Ali was stunned. "A scholarship?" she managed, still not sure she had heard correctly. "You're giving me a scholarship?"

Anna Lee Ashcroft nodded. "Not quite a 'full ride' as they say," she added dryly. "What you'll get from us is enough for tuition, books, room, and some board. If your parents really can't help, you may need to work part time, but you shouldn't have to put off starting. In fact, you should be able to go off to school this fall right along with all your classmates."

And that's exactly what Ali had done. The scholarship had made all the difference for her -- it had made going on to college possible. And everything else in Ali's life had flowed from there.

So Alison Larson Reynolds owed the Ashcrofts -- owed them big. If Arabella Ashcroft wanted to summon her to tea once again some twenty-five years later, Ali would be there -- with bells on.

Copyright © 2007 by J.A. Jance

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(16)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2008

    Surely Jance Didn't Write This Mess

    I did not care for the first two Ali Reynolds books, and this third one takes the cake in poor plot and character development. Her theme of the horrible effects of child sex abuse plays out in two plotlines, one dealing with a 13 year old girl, and the other with a seventy year old woman. Each plot, though, is disjointed. In the first one, a sociopath who had murdered the girl's molester is developed in only a few pages and then quickly dropped midway through the book. The second plotline meanders through an old woman's past that reveals her to be a multiple murderer. Both the woman and the plot are irritating, playing out more as a gossip column than an intriguing story. I also found the editing to be sloppy: a relative who is cited as a step-brother is later referred to as a blood relation. And the house the old woman lives in was purchases by her mother on one page and later built by her mother on another page. I also found Ali's italicized thoughts to be an amateurish writing device. Then there are the dribbling rabbit trails such as Ali's stupid blog, her aiding a woman with cancer, and issues with her son's girlfriend. It's like she had to provide filler to get to her alotted 368 pages. Finally, in order to bring closure to the 13 year old girl plot, yet another evil person---a stereotypical hypocrite preacher--- is introduced and dispatched in the space of a couple of pages at the end of the book. I have read Jance for years because of her readable, tightly developed Beaumont and Brady series and her other individual novels. I just wonder if she is training someone new to take over her writing duties.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    For fans of the taut suspense of Mary Higgins Clark and P.J. Tracey

    Arabella Ashcroft was partially responsible for Ari Reynolds receiving a scholarship that allowed her to go to college. Arabella summons Ari to her home she tells her that the nephew Billy she never met wants money or he will have her committed. She is afraid having been confined in a facility before. She gives a diary to Ari that states Billy¿s father sexually assaulted her. With Ari¿s help her plan is to blackmail the blackmailer into leaving her alone.------------ If that is not enough to disturb Ari¿s equilibrium, her friend Dave Holman has a daughter Crystal, a sexually abused teen, who runs away from her mother¿s home to be with her father. Ari has to take care of her since her father, a police officer, is working a case. Crystal lies at every opportunity and runs way in between fabrications. Crystal saw someone beaten almost to death and Ari finds and follows followed the criminal but lost him. He tracks Ali down at the hospital where plans to finish his victim off. Ali is taken hostage by this insane person who holds a gun on her. Help comes from people she barely knows risking their lives though the outcome remains in doubt. Later on Ali is taken hostage by someone she trusts.--------------- Fans of the taut suspense of Mary Higgins Clark and P.J. Tracey will want to read HANDS OF EVIL, a tale that keeps the tension in the stratosphere. The story line never takes a respite as action occurs in every chapter. What the heroine goes through would put many people in an institution suffering from battle fatigue syndrome yet Ali displays courage and tenacity as she handles a series of devastating mental blows while maintaining her sanity.------------ Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 18, 2014

    Michelle to all rpers

    This is the Hufflepuff girls dorm. I am a hufflepuff and i will be sleeping here. NO BOYS ALLOWED and hufflepuff boys dorm at next res.

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

    Posted June 13, 2014

    Get Ready To Get Hooked

    If you love a good mystery and series, then JA Jance is your author. I started out reading her Joanna Brady series, fell in Love with JP in her Beaumont series and now adore Ali Reynolds and her great cast of characters. Once you start these books you can't put them down!!! She is one of the best...her books set right up there with Sue Grafton!!!

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

    Posted July 2, 2012

    Not very good

    Plot was a bit thin and a lot of pages devoted to subject matters not tied to plot.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Terrific

    I really love the way this Author writes. I feel after reading all of this particular series, that i know this woman, Ali Reynolds. Terrific story line and mystery. I highly recommend this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 28, 2012

    Great Book!

    This was a great read. Kept you guessing the entire time. I really enjoyed it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Hand of Evil...keeps you on the edge of your seat

    J.A. Jance's "Hand of Evil" was given to me as a birthday gift, as I began reading it I couldn't put it down. Every page kept me on the edge of my seat! Good Read.

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

    Posted February 20, 2009

    Hand of Evil by J.A. Jance

    Another good book in her series of Southwestern adventures. Ali Reynolds, the main character keeps busy handling multiple plots with a man friend who gradually becomes more than just a friend.
    I'll look forward to J.A. Jance's next book.

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

    Posted August 21, 2008

    Read This .......

    First let me say this author -- in my opinion -- is truly amazing. Second I want to speak to other reviewers....PLEASE quit writing so much detail of the book and plot --you are ruining it for other readers -- just give a brief 'I like it....good read' type review -- nobody is going to wade through all of that anyway.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Roto-Rooter

    This is a likeable enough book good enough for a casual read, but author Jance seems to have been insecure about having enough to capture the reader. She throws subplot on subplot to add to the mystery, but surely she could have at least spared the poor Roto-Rooter guy.

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

    Posted April 23, 2008

    Murder and evil

    Even though this is a fictional story, it depicts what can happen when a child is molested at a young age. Ali Reynolds is grieving for a wandering eyed husband. The wealthy family that offered her a college scholarship wants to see her but a friend¿s daughter goes missing just as the meeting was requested. Ali steps in to help her friend find his daughter and gets entangled in a web of evil that is more than a quarter of a century old. The daughter witnesses a brutal murder and is afraid to go to the police because of what she was doing at the time. Ali¿s parent¿s have a friend who has gone missing as well. Is all of this tied to the wealthy family in some way? Murder and child molestation are involved but in what way? Karen Ziemba reads HAND OF EVIL and has a clear and easy voice to listen to. You are able to tell who is talking with her various inflections.

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

    Posted February 25, 2008

    A missing teen and an Attack on a friend

    Ali Reynolds has had a tough year. She's struggling with grief and depression. In the midst of this, she has to help her friend Dave Homan locate his missing teen daughter, Crystal. She assists in bringing Crystal home and finds herself babysitting more often than not. She soon learns that Crystal has been sexually active. Ali also realizes Crystal witnessed an attack and someone is after her. The person who was attacked was a good friend of Ali's dad. In the meantime, Arabella Ashcroft summons Ali to her house. Arabella and her mother provided Ali with a scholarship to college years ago, so Ali feels compelled to appear. Turns out Arabella wants Ali to read her diary from many years ago explaining about the abuse she endured by her stepbrother. His son has recently threatened to bring these acts to light in order to extort money from her. Even though Ali is reluctant to get involved, she feels obligated to help out. In the course of the investigation, Ali also finds out that she has been out of touch with her son and needs to catch up. Can Ali help uncover the killer and the attacker without putting herself and others in harm's way? I really enjoy this series. I like Ali and feel the author has done a great job of creating a character that the reader cares about. I did find the subject matter of this book to be a little harder to read, being the mother of a teenager. But I know there are so many people who have had these subjects touch their lives, that I know it needs to be discussed. I thought the author did a good job of getting the information out there without making it too graphic. I thought Crystal was a well-written character. She came across as a stubborn teenager but when you removed the layers, you found she was just a scared and confused girl. I felt she was very believable. I see that others have complained that Ali didn't have enough of a reason to be involved in these mysteries. I disagree. I think Dave put her in the middle of Crystal's situation, and Arabella did the same. I like how the author weaves the stories together and intertwines some of the people. Even though I found the subject matter a little tough to read, I really enjoyed this book and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it.

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

    Posted January 28, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)