Paradise Lost (Joanna Brady Series #9)

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Dora Matthews and Jennifer Brady, both thirteen, couldn't be less alike-yet the luck of the draw has made them tent mates at a Girl Scout Memorial Day weekend camping trip at Apache Pass. Dora is a wild child, a pregnant, fatherless waif with a missing junkie mother. Jennifer is the innocent daughter of Joanna Brady, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona. In the cool blackness of the high desert night, they slip away at Dora's prodding. What they find on their unauthorized hike will change their lives forever: ...
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Paradise Lost (Joanna Brady Series #9)

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Dora Matthews and Jennifer Brady, both thirteen, couldn't be less alike-yet the luck of the draw has made them tent mates at a Girl Scout Memorial Day weekend camping trip at Apache Pass. Dora is a wild child, a pregnant, fatherless waif with a missing junkie mother. Jennifer is the innocent daughter of Joanna Brady, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona. In the cool blackness of the high desert night, they slip away at Dora's prodding. What they find on their unauthorized hike will change their lives forever: the body of a murdered Phoenix heiress, abandoned to scavengers and the elements.

Sheriff Brady fears the traumatic damage that her daughter's grim discovery may have inflicted on the frightened teenager. Right now, however Joanna's foremost concern is the job she was elected to do, and she sets out on the trial of the dead woman's lowlife husband who cleaned out their accounts before he vanished himself.

The stakes get drastically higher in very short order when something happens to poor damaged and neglected Doran Matthews that hits Joanna like a runaway truck. Someone believes that the two girls who were where they shouldn't have been two nights earlier are now loose ends that need to be tied up. And Joanna's own Jenny may very well be the next item on a killer's bloody agenda.

But one killer could turn out to be two-or perhaps even three. Suddenly terror has invaded Sheriff Joanna Brady's world in a form too awful to contemplate. As the nightmares of her professional and personal lives interweave-as a disturbing cloud of suspicion darkens the joy of her on barely one-month-old marriage-she knows that there are answers out in the wilderness that must be uncovered before time runs out. With everything she loves in jeopardy, one dedicated mother, wife, and law officer must piece together a deadly puzzle in which nothing seems to fit-as the clues and her keen instinct point her toward a place of secrets and bizarre cultlike obsession that some call "Paradise."

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady and her husband, Butch Dixon, head out of town for a long weekend of business and pleasure, she's happy to know that her 12-year-old daughter, Jenny, will be enjoying herself, too. On Jenny's agenda is a Girl Scout camp-out, and though the recent dry spell has quashed any chances of an honest-to-goodness campfire, Joanna is confident that Jenny will have a good time.

She couldn't be more wrong. Paired with an unpopular 13-year-old named Dora Matthews as her tent mate, Jenny struggles from the start to make the best of what promises to be a difficult weekend. But Jenny's weekend is cut short early, when the two girls break the rules by sneaking away from their troop on the very first night and discover the naked body of a murdered woman hidden in the brush not far from their campsite. And when Dora's body turns up just a few short days later, broken and twisted on the side of a road, Joanna's worry for her daughter grows by leaps and bounds.

What motive could someone have that would drive them to murder both the woman and such a young girl? Are the two murders connected? Will her own daughter be the next victim of a killer out to silence any and all witnesses? As these terrifying questions and more race through Joanna's mind, and her prime suspect provides what appears to be an airtight alibi, it's all Joanna can do to keep her mind on the job.

But now, more than ever, Joanna needs a cool head and a steady trigger finger. Because on a case that will magnify every maternal instinct Joanna's ever had --and challenge every notion she's ever held about motherhood -- it's going to take all of Joanna's commitment and strength to catch a killer and keep her daughter safe from harm.

In Paradise Lost, J. A. Jance once again weaves evocative settings, unforgettable characters and a breathtaking plot into an emotionally vivid story about a realistic heroine striving to balance her passion for justice with her love for family.

Dallas Morning News
A strong appreciation for the Arizona countryside...a stronger central character.
Chicago Tribune
Joanna Brady is a delightful character.
Jance delivers a devilish page-turner.
Flint Journal
In the elite company of Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell.
Chattanooga Times
J.A. Jance is among the best—if not the best—mystery novelists writing today.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
The plotting is up to Jance's high standards...bracing.
St Louis Post-Dispatch
Brady comes into her own in this book...making an already appealing character even more so.
Publishers Weekly
In Cochise County (Ariz.) sheriff Joanna Brady's ninth outing, bestseller Jance verges on soap opera, but avoids the worst excesses of the type. Mother-daughter relationships get a real workout, as Joanna's brittle connection with her mother is always testy and the emotional fulcrum between Joanna and her 12-year-old daughter, Jenny, is always shifting. But plenty of other combinations of blood and bonding get a workout, too. Jenny and a camping partner discover the body of a naked woman while Joanna and new husband Butch Dixon are out of town to attend a sheriffs' convention and a wedding. Joanna's personal and professional lives collide heavily as concerns for her daughter, her department, her husband and her future intertwine. With a mix of old and modern police work (interviews, crime-scene analysis, sophisticated forensics) and intense personal problems (Jenny may be targeted by the killer, Butch may have cheated on Joanna, Joanna's mother's meddling may have gotten a girl killed), Jance keeps things roiling from start to finish. With more than two dozen mysteries to her credit, the author has learned a great deal about pacing and it's evident in this page-turner, which nicely builds suspense and throws in some nifty surprises as well. Jance's sense of place remains strong, whether here in the beautifully rendered rural Arizona setting or in the rainy Seattle of her J.P. Beaumont mysteries. (Aug. 7) Forecast: With a one-day laydown and strong marketing backing, including a 12-city tour and radio and print advertising, this book will hit the lists fast. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-When Sheriff Joanna Brady's 12-year-old daughter finds a dead woman on a Girl Scout camping trip, the family becomes peripherally involved in the murder, and then in a second one, of a scout who was with Jenny on the trip. The sheriff then finds herself trying to balance the demands of solving both murders when a third occurs. Sorting out parallels among the killings proves to be the way to solve the complicated plot intertwinings, which Brady accomplishes in a competent and professional manner. Jance once again provides an interesting scenario for the crimes, including a weaving together of the seemingly unconnected murders. Using the sheriff's family as main characters conveys an insider's view of what life must be like for kin of law-enforcement officers. Jance gives enough details to round out the characters familiar from other books in this series to give readers the sense that they personally know Brady. The story is set in rural Arizona, and the grand expanses of land and time are at once beautiful and a challenge. An entertaining read, even for newcomers to the series.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cochise County, Arizona, sheriff Joanna Brady (Devil's Claw, 2000, etc.) and her new husband Butch Dixon are sneaking a weekend away when word arrives that her daughter Jenny, 12, and her friend Dora, who sneaked off themselves from their Girl Scout campsite for a cigarette, have discovered the nude, battered body of a woman. When Dora's mother can't be found, and her home turns out to be a meth factory, Deputy Frank Montoya arranges for the girls to stay with Joanna's former in-laws. Jealous of the in-laws and disapproving of the trashy young Dora, Joanna's busybody mom calls in Children's Services, who put the youngster in foster care, but she flees-and then is brutally murdered. Is someone now after Jenny, too? A medic-alert bracelet identifies the dead woman as Constance Haskell, whose husband Ron cleaned out their bank account and signed himself in to Pathways to Paradise, a rehab for gamblers, where everyone from the gate guard to the owners is untherapeutically hostile. While Joanna soothes her daughter, calms her mother, finds time for her bridegroom, and covers the county with too few officers, an autopsy report indicates that Dora was pregnant, and the evidence leads to a doctor's family in Phoenix. There'll be another dead body, an unlikely confession, and a flying tackle at a Lexus dealership before Jenny swears off cigarettes forever, Joanna's mom breaks down in tears for the first time ever, and Joanna and Butch can turn off the cell phone and snuggle. Domestic drama a la Mary Higgins Clark, though without the brand names, played out in 115-degree weather. Can a special on Lifetime Network for Women be far behind?
Chattanooga Times
"J.A. Jance is among the best--if not the best--mystery novelists writing today."
St Louis Post-Dispatch
"Brady comes into her own in this book...making an already appealing character even more so."
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"The plotting is up to Jance's high standards...bracing."
Publishers Weeekly
"[A] page turner...builds suspense and throws in some surprises as well. Jance's sense of place remains strong."
Flint Journal
"In the elite company of Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell."
Chicago Tribune
“Joanna Brady is a delightful character.”
Dallas Morning News
"A strong appreciation for the Arizona countryside...a stronger central character."
“Jance delivers a devilish page-turner.”
People Magazine
"Jance delivers a devilish page-turner."
*Flint Journal
"In the elite company of Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380804696
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2002
  • Series: Joanna Brady Series , #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

J. A. Jance
J.A. Jance is the American Mystery Award-winning author of the popular J.P. Beaumont mystery series as well as eight mysteries featuring Joanna Brady. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington.


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

Paradise Lost


Connie Haskell had just stepped out of the shower when she heard the phone ringing. Hoping desperately to hear Ron′s voice on the phone, she grabbed a towel and raced through the house, leaving a trail of wet footprints on the worn carpeting of the bedroom and hallway. For two weeks she had carried the cordless phone with her wherever she went, but when she had gone to the bathroom to shower that morning, she had forgotten somehow and left the phone sitting beside her empty coffee cup on the kitchen table.

By the time she reached the kitchen, the machine had already picked up the call. "Hello, Mrs. Haskell. This is Ken Wilson at First Bank." The disembodied voice of Connie′s private banker echoed eerily across the Saltillo tile in an otherwise silent kitchen. As soon as she heard the caller′s voice and knew it wasn′t her husband′s, Connie didn′t bother to pick up the receiver. It was the same thing she had done with all the other calls that had come in during this awful time. She had sat, a virtual prisoner in her own home, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But this call from her banker probably wasn′t it.

"I′m calling about your checking account," Ken Wilson continued. "As of this morning, it′s seriously overdrawn. I′ve paid the two outstanding checks that showed up today as well as one from yesterday, but I need you to come in as soon as possible and make a deposit. If you′re out of town, please call me so we can make some other arrangement to cover the overdraft. I believe you have my number, but in case you don′t, here it is."

As Ken Wilson recited his direct phone number, Connie slipped unhearing onto a nearby kitchen stool. In all the years she had handled her parents′ affairs -- paying bills and writing checks after her father had been incapacitated by that first crippling stroke and then for her mother after Stephen Richardson′s death -- in all that time, Connie had never once bounced a check. She had written the checks and balanced the checkbooks each month under Stephen′s watchful and highly critical eye. Because of stroke-induced aphasia, her father had been able to do nothing but shake his head, roll his eyes, and spit out an occasional "Stupid." But Connie had persevered. She had done the task month after month for years. After her marriage to Ron, when he had volunteered to take over the bill-paying, she had been only too happy to relinquish that onerous duty. And why not? Ron was an accountant, wasn′t he? Dealing with numbers was what CPAs did.

Except Ron had been gone for two weeks now -- AWOL. For two long, agonizing weeks there had been no word to Connie. No telephone call. No letter. She hadn′t reported him missing because she was ashamed and afraid. Ashamed because other people had been right about him and she′d been wrong, and afraid she might learn that there was another woman involved. The woman was bound to be far younger and far better-looking than Constance Marie Richardson Haskell. She was unable to delude herself into thinking there was a chance of foul play. No, Connie had made a point of checking Ron′s carefully organized side of the closet. Her missing husband had simply packed one of his roll-aboard suitcases with a selection of slacks and custom-made, monogrammed shirts, and left.

The main reason Connie had kept silent about his absence was that she didn′t want to have to face up to all those people who had told her so. And they had told her so -- in spades. Any number of friends and relations had tried, both subtly and not so subtly, to explain that they thought Connie was making a mistake in marrying so soon after her mother′s death. Connie′s older sister, Maggie -- someone who never suffered from a need to keep her opinions to herself -- had been by far the most outspoken.

"If you ask me, Ron Haskell′s nothing but a gold-digging no-account," Maggie MacFerson had said. "He worked for Peabody and Peabody for six months before Mother died. He knew everything about Mother′s financial affairs, and now he knows everything about yours. He also knows how naive you are, and he′s taking you for a ride. For him, you′re nothing but a meal ticket."

"We fell in love," Connie had declared hotly, as if that one fact alone should resolve all her older sister′s concerns. "Besides, Ron′s resigning from the firm, so there can′t be any question of conflict of interest."

In response, Maggie MacFerson had blown an exasperated plume of smoke in the air. She shook her head and rolled her eyes. When she did that, she looked so much like Stephen Richardson that Connie had expected to hear her father′s familiar pronouncement of "Stupid!"

"We all have to make our own mistakes, I suppose," Maggie said with a resigned sigh. "At least do yourself a favor and get a prenup agreement."

That was the one and only time the two sisters had discussed Ron Haskell. Naturally, Connie hadn′t followed Maggie′s advice. She hadn′t wanted to ask for a prenuptial agreement because she was afraid if she mentioned it, Ron might think she didn′t trust him, which she did -- absolutely and with all the lovesick fervor of a forty-two-year-old woman who had never fallen in love before, not even once.

Paradise Lost. 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
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2002


    Just finished the book. Could not put it down. I have ordered the rest of the Joanna Brady mysteries so I wont miss a thing. Keep up the good work JA Jance .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    One of Jance's Best to Date

    This is, so far, the best of the Joanna Brady series and an entirely satisfying and engaging read. Working multiple homicide cases simultaneously makes for a real page-turner that I found hard tolut down. I also like the way the story takes on a more personal note than previous books in the series. Plus, I was not distracted by the usual typos. I would recommend this book anyone, even if they have not read the earlier books. Clearly, Jance has grown allot as an author since her first book. Stephanie Clanahan

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    Check it out.

    Love all the Brady series by Jance especially when hooked up with Beaumont.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    Excellent story!

    Paradise Lost was yet another great story of the life of Joanna Brady by J. A. Jance. I am reading the series in order, and this was a great installment. It is becoming like visiting with old friends everytime I read another novel in this series. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Good read

    Overall very exciting. Kept my interest every page.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Another great book.

    Reading this series in order, you can watch Joanne evolve. It is still a great read if you haven't read previous books of hers.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    Addicted to this series. A must read for any Joanna Brady fan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2007


    i think this book is really good and you dont have to read the first couple of books cause the next one fills you in on what happened

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2002


    This was a wonderful story. I personally have read over a dozen murder mysteries and this ranks at the top of my list of favorites! The author did a great job of bringing the reader into the book. Well done!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2001


    Reading the first paragraph of a J.A. Jance novel quickly tells you that a pro is at work. After penning over two dozen mysteries this author knows how to pace suspense, and when to surprise. Her characters are not larger than life but ones to whom readers can easily relate. As if this weren't enough she spins a topnotch yarn. With 'Paradise Lost' the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, Joanna Brady, attempts to track down a ruthless killer. But this time it's more than just sleuthing as usual because the murder victim's body was found by Jenny, Brady's 13-year-old daughter. In one of thrillerdom's greatest mismatches, Jenny has been paired with Dora Matthews for a weekend Girl Scout campout at Apache Pass. While Jenny is guileless, innocent, Dora is a pregnant young girl with an absentee father and an out-of-touch drug addicted mom. When the girls take an after lights out walk they find the body of a Phoenix heiress. It is not too long before tragedy also befalls the unfortunate Dora. What more does Brady need to realize that a whacko killer is on the loose, doing in any potential witnesses, perhaps her own daughter? Jance shines with descriptions of the stark Arizona terrain, and excels at drafting pedal to the metal suspense.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    paradise found by fans of police procedurals

    In Cochise County, Arizona twelve-year-old Jenny Brady and her friend Dora Matthews sneak out of the Girl Scout¿s camp after lights are out to smoke cigarettes. However, the two mischievous girls soon find a corpse. Though she has a homicide to investigate, Jenny¿s mother Joanna, the county sheriff, is livid with her daughter, not only for sneaking out but for smoking as well. <P>However, Joanna revises her concern when a hit and run driver kills Dora. Not believing in coincidences, Joanna worries that someone wants to eliminate the witnesses to the first killing, which makes her beloved daughter a potential next victim. Joanna uses all her police skills to uncover the identity of the culprit before Jenny becomes the next casualty. <P> As expected from JA Jance (see the Beaumont mysteries as well as other novels in this series), PARADISE LOST is paradise found by fans of police procedurals. An intense personal side to Joanna leads to a taut story line that enhances the who-done-it. Both subplots converge on the heroine as her personal life and professional lives collide. Whether it is Seattle or Arizona, Ms. Jance always provides a powerhouse of entertainment. <P>Harriet Klausner

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