Skeleton Canyon (Joanna Brady Series #5)

Skeleton Canyon (Joanna Brady Series #5)

4.2 33
by J. A. Jance, Sharon Williams
     
 

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It was love that brought young Brianna "Bree" O'Brien to Skeleton Canyon for a romantic tryst with her adoring boyfriend, Ignacio Ybarra - a rendezvous the beautiful teenager would never live to experience. It was love also that compelled Joanna Brady to seek - and win - the office of Cochise Country Sheriff: love of her murdered policeman husband, whose memory she… See more details below

Overview

It was love that brought young Brianna "Bree" O'Brien to Skeleton Canyon for a romantic tryst with her adoring boyfriend, Ignacio Ybarra - a rendezvous the beautiful teenager would never live to experience. It was love also that compelled Joanna Brady to seek - and win - the office of Cochise Country Sheriff: love of her murdered policeman husband, whose memory she was honoring; of her little daughter Jenny, for whom she was now solely responsible; and for justice and truth. It is the truth about that terrible night in Skeleton Canyon - a night that witnessed the cruel death of an innocent girl - that now concerns Joanna, even as she struggles to come to terms with her own enduring grief and loneliness. Bree's distraught parents are convinced Ignacio is the killer - that the boy was enraged by their refusal to condone his relationship with their daughter. But the sudden disappearance of a friend - combined with startling revelations gleaned from a chance encounter - suggests to Sheriff Brady that there is much more involved in this case than passionate anger and forbidden love. And her investigation is beginning to expose a complex web of crime and deception that stretches from an isolated desert canyon to the luxurious O'Brien family compound, Sombra del San Jose. For nothing is exactly as it seems in either locality. And Joanna is suddenly in danger of discovering first-hand that lies, both criminal and seemingly innocent alike, can have devastating - and deadly - consequences.

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Editorial Reviews

Cherie Jung
Personally, I have never read a Jance book that I didn't like....I think she is such an outstanding storyteller that I would read cereal box panels if she were writing them....[T]his book stands alone. You can start with Skeleton Canyon now and then go back to the others [in the series].
Mystery Magazine Online
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jance is an expert at writing rich mysteries filled with as much human decency as skullduggery. When high-school valedictorian Bree O'Brien is found dead in the southeastern Arizona mountains, suspicion falls on her boyfriend, Ignacio Ybarra, who refuses to explain his fresh cuts and bruises. But the case isn't that simple, as Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady learns in this fifth adventure (after Dead to Rights). Bree and Ignacio had been meeting secretly because her wealthy father hates Hispanics. When Ignacio is cleared, Joanna suspects that another case may be connected with the homicide. Someone has been smuggling Freon across the border, cashing in on high black-market prices for the refrigerant. Are Bree's parents involved? And would any amount of smuggling money make them kill their own daughter? Why did O'Brien hire an ex-cop with an unsavory past who often leered at Bree? And why did Bree write in her journal, "My mother is a liar"? Joanna tackles the cases while still coping with the loneliness of her recent widowhood and a startling personal revelation about her mother. This is a solid yarn with strong characters and a full palette of local color. Jance's regional knowledge runs deep, whether she writes about troubled Anglo-Hispanic relations along the border or the surprising power of Arizona thunderstorms. 100,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Aug.) FYI: Skeleton Canyon will be simultaneously published with the mass market reprint of Dead to Rights.
Library Journal
Joanna Brady, sheriff of Tombstone and star of Jance's award-winning mystery series, is summoned to the murderously hot Skeleton Canyon to investigate a killing.
Kirkus Reviews
A year after they played Romeo and Juliet at summer camp, recent Bisbee High grads Brianna O'Brien and Ignacio Ybarra are at it again, this time for real. Nacio's aunt and uncle think the secret romance is a bad idea, but their disapproval is nothing compared to wealthy, crippled rancher David O'Brien's racist roars of outrage—outrage he directs unabated at Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady (Dead to Rights, 1996, etc.) when Bree goes missing from the cozy campsite where she'd been waiting au naturel for Nacio. Even the dullest reader will have surmised that Bree is dead, but Jance keeps this revelation from Joanna and her overworked deputies for nearly half the running time of this overextended tale, leaving only the second half for Joanna's tangle with a black-market Freon dealer; her ever-surprising mother's latest bombshell; the romantic misunderstanding between former prostitute Angie Kellogg and bird-loving naturalist Dennis Hacker; the skeletons tumbling out of the O'Brien family closet; and, almost as an afterthought, Bree's murder (which turns out to have been committed by the Arizona version of the wandering tramp so beloved of country-house whodunits).

Most of the sitcom-shaped intrigues are so lightweight that the homicidal complications seem to have been airlifted in from Jance's tougher, stronger J.P. Beaumont series

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781561009879
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
08/01/1997
Series:
Joanna Brady Series, #5
Edition description:
Abridged
Product dimensions:
4.34(w) x 7.03(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was five o'clock on a Friday afternoon in June when Bree came into the kitchen. Even with the airconditioning going full blast, the kitchen was hot compared to the rest of the house. Sweat rolled down Mrs. Vorevkin's jowly cheeks as she stood bent over the kitchen sink, cleaning and chopping vegetables for the salad.

"I'm ready to go."

Olga turned and smiled at the young woman whose tan, lithe, and cheerful presence never failed to brighten any room she entered. "The cool chest is in the pantry," Olga told her. "It's all packed." She put down her knife and dried both hands on her apron. "The soup is ready," she added. "You should have some before you leave. Hot soup on a hot day will cool you off. Besides, it's such a long drive. You should eat something besides sandwiches."

Bree sniffed the air. Over the years, the O'Briens had gone through any number of cooks. Most of them hadn't lasted because they couldn't stand up to David O'Brien's stringent demands for quality and impeccable service. Olga, however, had been with the O'Briens a little over three years. She was an excellent cook who had come to them, by some circuitous path, from a job with the U.S. embassy in Moscow with an unexplained stop-off in New Orleans along the way. During her three years' tenure, she had developed a very loving friendship with this bright, golden-haired young woman who stood in her kitchen, waffling with indecision.

Bree glanced at her watch. Nacio, as she usually called him, would be off work in another hour. She wanted to be there in time to meet him when his shift ended, but there was just time for some of Mrs. V.'s delicious soup and athick slab of the crusty white bread she made on a daily basis, summer and winter.

"All right," Bree agreed at last, slipping into her favorite place at the kitchen table. "But I'll have to hurry."

The soup was a clear broth with a few green slivers of scallion floating on the top. Five or six tiny homemade meat-filled dumplings sat on the bottom of the bowl. It was wonderful.

"What time will Mom and Dad be home?" Bree asked, glancing casually at her watch. She wanted to be through the security gates, off Purdy Lane, and on the highway headed for Douglas long before her parents returned. Not that it mattered that much whether or not they were home when Bree left. She was going regardless. It was just always easier for her to leave without having to face them, without having to lie to them directly. Although, with practice, even that was easier now, Brianna was getting used to it.

Finishing the soup, Bree pushed her chair from the table, carried her dishes to the counter, and plucked a plump radish from the pile of clean ones Mrs. V. had stacked next to the sink. "Take two," Olga said with a smile. "They're not very filling."

Tossing her ponytail, Bree took a second radish and then hurried to the pantry. The cooler was right there, just as she had known it would be, packed with sandwiches, sodas, fruit, and, most likely, some little dessert surprise as well. Mrs. V. was a great believer in the Cajun tradition of lagniappe -- something extra.

Bree lugged the cooler as far as the front door. As soon as she opened it, she almost choked on the raw stench of cigar smoke that lingered in a hazy cloud just outside. Alf Hastings, her father's director of operations, was sitting in the shade of the verandah next to the fountain. He hurried to his feet as Bree came through the door. "Let me help you with that," he offered.

Alf hadn't been on Green Brush Ranch long. Bree didn't know much about him other than he was one of those middle-aged men who gave her the creeps. She suspected there were times he made unnecessary security sweeps through the yard outside her bedroom window on the off chance he might catch her in the act of undressing.

"No, thanks," she said. "I can manage on my own.,,

Not one to take no for an answer, Hastings leered at her. "Looks pretty heavy to me," he said. "At least let me open the gate to the camper."

That was the last thing Brianna O'Brien wanted. If he opened the camper shell on the pickup, he was bound to see all the camping equipment she had smuggled out of the garage and stowed there without anyone-her parents especially-being the wiser.

"It goes in front," she told him, quickly putting the cooler down on the ground. "I'll have to go back inside to get the key."

He was still standing there puffing on what was left of his cigar when she came back out of the house with the key in hand.

"Off to Playas again?" he asked.

Bree gave him a sidelong took. Was he testing her? Had he seen her loading the stuff into the truck and figured out what was really going on? Or was he just making conversation?

"That's right," she said.

This time Alf made no offer to help, but she noticed that he had moved off to one side, no doubt hoping to look down her tank top when she bent down to pick up the cooler. Give the dirty old man a thrill. If he's looking at my boobs, that means he probably isn't looking inside the camper. Once the cooler was properly situated on the rider's side of the seat, she slammed the door shut.

"Hope you keep the doors locked when you head off on your own like this," Alf said. "A young girl like you can't ever be...

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