Partner in Crime (Joanna Brady Series #10 / J. P. Beaumont Series #16)by J. A. Jance
"The dead woman was an artist recently arrived from Washington State, cruelly cut down in the early stages of a promising career. Now all that remains of Rochelle Baxter lies on a cold slab in the Cochise County morgue, and Sheriff Joanna Brady knows that murder has once again infected her small desert community. But there is more to this homicide than initially meets… See more details below
"The dead woman was an artist recently arrived from Washington State, cruelly cut down in the early stages of a promising career. Now all that remains of Rochelle Baxter lies on a cold slab in the Cochise County morgue, and Sheriff Joanna Brady knows that murder has once again infected her small desert community. But there is more to this homicide than initially meets the eye - and more to the victim, who died while supposedly under the conscientious protection of the government." "The big-city legal establishment has no faith in the abilities of a small-town sheriff, let alone a female sheriff. Instructed to swallow her indignation, Joanna awaits the arrival of the "help" Washington's attorney general is sending her: the newest member of the state's Special Homicide Investigation team - a man named Beaumont." "Bisbee, Arizona, is the last place J. P. Beaumont wants to be. The ghosts of a painful past are too numerous there, and his reluctant "partner," Sheriff Brady, resents his intrusion and cannot help but make her feelings known." But the road they are forced to travel together is taking some unexpected turns, running two dedicated servants of the law headfirst into the impenetrable stone walls of a shocking conspiracy of silence. For Brady and Beaumont's hunt is disturbing a very deadly nest of rattlers, and suddenly trust is the only option they have. On their own in the Arizona desert, they know death can be cold and quick. And nobody is watching their backs here...they'll have to watch each other's.
Read an Excerpt
As Sheriff Joanna Brady drove through the last thicket of mesquite, the house at High Lonesome Ranch lay dark and still under a rising moon. Usually her daughter Jenny's two dogs -- Sadie, a bluetick hound, and Tigger, a half golden retriever/half pit-bull mutt -- would have bounded through the undergrowth to meet her. This time, Joanna surmised, they had chosen to accompany Butch on his appointment with the contractor at the site of the new house they were planning to build a mile or so away.
Butch had bugged out of St. Dominick's immediately after the service, while he and Joanna waited for the sanctuary to empty. "I'll stay if you want," he had whispered. "But I really need to go."
"Right," she had told him. "You do what you have to. I'll be fine."
"I'll stop by the house and do the chores first," he said. "Don't worry about that."
Joanna had simply nodded. "Thanks," she said.
By then Yolanda Ortiz Cañedo's grieving husband, her two young sons, her parents, brothers and sister were walking out of the church through two lines of saluting officers made up of both police and fire department personnel. Joanna could barely stand to watch. It was all too familiar, too close to her own experience. As her green eyes filled with tears, Joanna glanced away, only to catch sight of the prisoners. That forlorn group -- eleven county prisoners, freshly barbered and dressed in civilian clothes -- stood in respectful silence, under the watchful eyes of two jail guards and Ted Chapman, the executive director of the Cochise CountyJail Ministry.
Ted had come to Joanna's office the day after the young jail matron had died of cervical cancer at a hospice facility in Tucson. "Some of the inmates would like to go to the services," Chapman had said. "Yolanda Cañedo did a lot of good around here. She really cared about the guys she worked with, and it showed. She helped me get the jail literacy program going, and she came in during off-hours to give individual help to prisoners who were going after GEDs. Some of the people she helped -- inmates who have already been released -- will be there on their own, but the ones who are still in lockup wanted me to ask if they could go, too. The newer prisoners, the ones who came in after Yolanda got sick, aren't included, of course. They have no idea who she was or what she did."
"What about security?" Sheriff Brady had asked. "Who's going to stand guard?"
"I already have two volunteers who will come in on their day off," Chapman answered. "You have my word of honor, along with that of the prisoners, that there won't be any trouble."
Joanna thought about how good some of the jail inmates' words of honor might be. But then she also had to consider the notebook full of greetings -- handmade by jail inmates -- that the Reverend Chapman had brought to Yolanda and her family as the young woman had lain gravely ill in the Intensive Care Unit at University Medical Center in Tucson. Sheriff Brady had been touched by the heartfelt sincerity in all those clumsily pasted-together cards. Several of them had been made by men able to sign their own names at the bottom of a greeting card for the very first time. Other cards had names printed by someone else under scrawled Xs. Their good wishes had seemed genuine enough back then. Now, so did the Reverend Chapman's somewhat unorthodox request.
"How many inmates are we talking about?" Joanna had asked.
"Any of them high-risk?"
"I don't think so."
"Give me the list," Joanna had conceded at last. "I'm not making any promises, but I'll run the proposition by the jail commander and see what he has to say."
In the end, eleven of the proposed inmates had been allowed to attend the service. in his eulogy, Father Morris had spoken of Yolanda Cañedo as a remarkable young woman. Certainly the presence of that solemn collection of inmates bore witness to that. And, as far as Joanna could tell, the prisoners' behavior had been nothing short of exemplary.
They stood now in a single straight row. With feet splayed apart and hands clasped behind their backs, they might have been a troop of soldiers standing at ease. Seeing them there, dignified and silent in the warm afternoon sun, Joanna was glad she had vetoed the jail commander's suggestion that they attend the funeral wearing handcuffs and shackles.
Chief Deputy Frank Montoya came up behind her then. "Hey, boss," he whispered in her car. "They're putting the casket into the hearse. Since we're supposed to be directly behind the family cars, we'd better mount up."
Nodding, Joanna left the inmates to the care of the two guards and Ted Chapman and walked back toward Frank's waiting Crown Victoria. Even in heels, the five-foot-four sheriff felt dwarfed as she made her way through the crush of uniformed officers. A light breeze riffled her short red hair.
"Looks like the members of Reverend Chapman's flock are behaving themselves." her chief deputy observed, as he started the Civvie's engine.
"So far so good," Joanna agreed.
"But they're not coming to the cemetery?"
Joanna shook her head. "No. Having them at the church is one thing, but going to the cemetery is something else. If there's any confusion, I was afraid one or more of them might slip away."
"You've got that right," Frank agreed. "We don't need to give your friend Ken Junior anything else to piss and moan about."
"Since when does he need a reason?" Joanna returned.
Ken junior, otherwise known as Deputy Kenneth Galloway, was Sheriff Brady's current problem child. He was the...Partner in Crime. 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.
- 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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