Want it by Tuesday, October 23
Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.
Same Day shipping in Manhattan. See Details
From New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance comes a chilling tale of suspense, where a cold-blooded murderer lures former newscaster Ali Reynolds into a chilling web of online romance—and doom.
On a dating site, SingleatHeart.com, bored housewives can find romance with married men looking for sex without strings. But these “married singles” are flirting with more than just their vows. At the heart of this seemingly innocent service, a vengeful computer hacker is playing games with people’s lives...and deaths.
Ex-television journalist Ali Reynolds just wants a break from excitement. In the midst of a remodel, the last thing she expects is a murder investigation that will stop the construction on her home. But when the savagely murdered body of stay-at-home mom Morgan Forester is found, Ali’s contractor Bryan is the prime suspect. Bryan swears he has nothing to do with his wife’s murder—but as the investigation progresses Ali seems to be the only resident of Sedona who believes him.
Determined to prove Bryan’s innocence, Ali unknowingly lands herself directly in the path of a calculating killer. In a world filled with encrypted computer traps and life-threatening lies, will Ali be able to decode the actions of a ruthless man determined to destroy women—before he uses his wicked website to find her?
About the Author
J.A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ali Reynolds series, the J.P. Beaumont series, and the Joanna Brady series, as well as five interrelated Southwestern thrillers featuring the Walker family. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tuscon, Arizona. Visit her online at JAJance.com.
Date of Birth:October 27, 1944
Place of Birth:Watertown, South Dakota
Education:B. A., University of Arizona, 1966; M. Ed. in Library Science, University of Arizona, 1970
Read an Excerpt
For the hundredth time that day, Ali Reynolds asked herself why she’d ever let her agent, Jacky Jackson, talk her into being a part of MCMR, short for Mid-Century-Modern Renovations, a program aimed at the Home & Garden TV viewer, documenting restoration projects designed to bring back venerable old twentieth-century American houses that otherwise would have fallen victim to the wrecking ball.
Months earlier Ali had come into possession of one of those precious fixer-uppers when she had purchased Arabella Ashcroft’s crumbling hilltop mansion at the top of Sedona’s Manzanita Hills Road. She had been intrigued when Jacky contacted her about filming the entire project. According to Jacky, MCMR would be the next great thing. Mid-Century-Modern Renovations was due to air on Home & Garden TV sometime in the not too distant future, but there was always a chance it would follow the lead of some of the Food Network’s cooking shows and make the jump over to one of the major networks.
Jacky had begged and pleaded until Ali finally agreed. At first her contractor had been thrilled at the prospect, and his crew had enjoyed mugging for the two cameramen, Raymond and Robert. Now, though, with construction seriously behind schedule, the workers were becoming surly at having the cameras forever in the way, and so was Ali. It was bad enough when things were going well. But then there were days like today, when Bryan Forester, her general contractor, had gone ballistic after Yvonne Kirkpatrick, the city of Sedona’s queen-bee building inspector, had decreed that the placement of some of Bryan’s electrical outlets in both the bathrooms and the kitchen were out of compliance.
The cameras had been there filming the entire epic battle as Bryan and the fiery-haired Yvonne had gone at it nose-to-nose over the issue. Later, they had been missing in action when Yvonne, who had returned to her office to check the rules and regs, had called back with the embarrassing admission that Bryan had been right and she had been wrong. From her days as a television newscaster, Ali Reynolds knew the drill. After all, confrontations make for great TV. Reconciliations don’t. Compared to war, peace is B-O-R-I-N-G. And even though Yvonne had admitted her mistake, she had yet to come back and sign off on the permit. The drywall guys couldn’t start hanging wallboard until she did.
Ali had hoped to have the place ready for a grand Thanksgiving dinner unveiling for friends and family. Right now her house had no running water or electricity, and the interior walls were nothing but bare studs. This latest delay made a turkey-day gathering in her remodeled home even more unlikely. Disheartened, she had retreated to the wisteria-lined flagstone patio where they had erected a canvas canopy over the worn redwood picnic table that served as a lunchroom for workers and film crew alike. Before Ali could summon a really serious funk, though, Leland Brooks appeared, bearing a silver tray set for tea.
“Tea?” he asked. “You look as though you could use a cuppa.”
“Yes, please,” Ali said gratefully, shivering in the late-afternoon chill. “That would be wonderful.”
Ali had taken on restoring Arabella Ashcroft’s dilapidated home as her personal rehabilitation project, and Brooks, Arabella’s former butler, had made fixing Ali Reynolds his. Months earlier and already dealing with the end of both her newscasting career and the end of her marriage, Ali had abandoned California and returned to her roots in Sedona, Arizona, looking for respite and a little peace and quiet. That hadn’t worked very well. Instead of achieving idyllic serenity, she had been propelled into life-and-death struggles with not one but two murderous nutcases.
Afterward Ali had been drifting aimlessly into a sea of depression when Leland Brooks came to her rescue, determined to find a way to help her help herself. Refusing to take no for an answer, he had set before her the daunting challenge of buying and re-creating Arabella Ashcroft’s mother’s house. In the ensuing months, every time the resulting complications had threatened to overwhelm Ali, Leland had been at her side. He still referred to himself as her butler, but she saw him as her property manager and also as her trusted aide-de-camp. He had taken up residence in a fifth-wheel trailer set up in the driveway, where he could make sure tools and supplies stayed put when the workmen left the site.
Ali waited while Leland dosed her tea with two cubes of sugar and a wedge of lemon.
“I see that building inspector was here again,” he said.
“Yes,” Ali returned. “She rode in on her broom, out on same, and fouled up the wallboard guys for at least another day. I’m pretty sure Thanksgiving is a lost cause.”
Leland handed over a cup and saucer. “Mr. Forester is a good man,” he said thoughtfully. “Surely he’ll be able to find a way to carry us over the finish line.”
Ali took a sip of her tea. It was perfect. “Mr. Brooks,” she said, “has anyone ever told you that you’re an incurable optimist?”
Leland frowned. “I don’t suppose that’s a compliment, is it?” he returned.
Ali laughed aloud. No matter how bad things got, Leland always seemed to cheer her up. Just then a car came winding up the driveway, threading its way between lines of workers’ vehicles. As it parked behind Ali’s Porsche Cayenne SUV, she recognized Detective Dave Holman’s sheriff’s department sedan.
Dave, a fellow graduate of Cottonwood’s Mingus Union High, was a longtime friend and recently a sometime beau. Several months earlier, he had been granted primary custody of his two daughters, nine-year-old Cassie and thirteen-year-old Crystal. Since then Dave had thrown himself wholeheartedly into his unexpected second chance at fatherhood. His newly assumed parenting responsibilities combined with a realization that both Dave and Ali were in full rebound mode had led to a mutual decision to back off for a while. As a result, he and Ali had been spending far less time together of late. On this occasion, though, Ali was delighted to see him—until she caught sight of the grim set of his jaw. Clearly, this was some other kind of visit.
At another time in her life, Ali Reynolds might not have thought the worst, but after months of dealing with one disaster after another, her heart went to her throat. Had the brakes failed in her father’s doddering antique Bronco, or had her mother’s Alero been T-boned making a left-hand turn across traffic into the Sugarloaf Café’s parking lot? Or was it Christopher? Had something happened to her son? Holding her breath, she gestured Dave onto the patio.
“Hey, Dave,” she croaked. It was a lame attempt at pretending she wasn’t terrified. “Good to see you. Care for some tea?”
Dave shook his head. “No, thanks.” He glanced toward the house. “I’m looking for Bryan Forester. Is he here?”
Relieved, Ali let out her breath. “In the far bathroom,” she answered. “Would you go find him, please?” she said to Leland.
Leland nodded. “Certainly,” he said and marched away.
“Is something wrong?” Ali asked.
“I’m afraid so,” Dave answered. “Morgan Forester’s been murdered. Their two girls came home from school a little while ago and found their mother dead in the front yard. Has Bryan been here all day?”
Even though all of Bryan’s worker bees had shown up on time, Bryan himself hadn’t appeared until later in the morning. Given that he had several different jobs going, his late arrival wasn’t so unusual. Ali had noticed, however, that the generally even-tempered Bryan had seemed out of sorts. Even before his confrontation with the building inspector, Bryan had been barking at his people and growling at the guys wielding their cameras.
“He wasn’t here all day,” she said. “But he was here most of it. Why?”
Before Dave could ask anything more, Leland returned, bringing Bryan Forester with him. “What’s up?” Bryan asked, looking questioningly from Ali to Dave.
Ali knew from personal experience what it meant to be given that kind of devastating news. Not wanting to witness Bryan Forester’s heartbreak, Ali thought of taking Brooks and disappearing into the house. Before she could rise from the bench, however, Dave cut off that avenue of retreat by speaking immediately.
“It’s about your wife,” he said. “I’m afraid I have some very bad news.”
“Bad news about Morgan?” Bryan asked. “What about her? What kind of bad news. Has she been in a wreck or something?”
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this. Your wife has been murdered,” Dave said. “Your daughters found her this afternoon when they came home from school.”
Ali felt a momentary flash of anger at Dave Holman. Couldn’t he have found a gentler way of delivering such awful news? Couldn’t he have couched it in less blunt terms?
Bryan’s face contorted in grief and astonishment as the brutal blow landed. He staggered over to the picnic table and sank down onto the redwood bench across the table from Ali. “No,” he said, shaking his head from side to side in absolute denial. “That can’t be. It’s impossible. Morgan was fine when I left for work. This is wrong. You must be mistaken.”
“I’m afraid there’s no mistake,” Dave replied. “If you don’t mind, Mr. Forester, I’ll need you to come with me. Once the body has been transported, we’ll need you to identify...”
At first Ali thought he had softened slightly, but then she noticed the odd shift from “Bryan” to “Mr. Forester.” Ali was a year younger than Dave, and Bryan Forester was over ten years younger than Ali. Dave’s turn to formality struck her as ominous.
Bryan, on the other hand, seemed oblivious. He surged to his feet. “No,” he interrupted. “Where are Lindsey and Lacy? What have you done with my daughters? I’ve got to see them, be with them.”
“The girls are fine,” Dave said reassuringly. “I called in Deputy Meecham, the DARE officer from their school. She knows your kids, and they know her. I asked her to take them to the sheriff’s office. The girls are probably already there.”
“Let’s go, then,” Bryan said impatiently, changing his mind about going to the house. “Why are we standing around here jawing?” He took two long strides toward Dave’s car, then stopped and turned back to Ali. “Tell the guys for me, please,” he said. “They should probably plan on taking the rest of the week off. Until I—” He broke off, unable to continue.
“Of course,” Ali said reassuringly. “I’m so sorry about this, Bryan. You do what you need to do. We’ll be fine.”
She watched as Dave took Bryan Forester by the arm and escorted him to the waiting patrol car. Dave opened the door—the door to the backseat, Ali noted, to let Bryan inside. Ali had to concede that was probably necessary, since there would likely be weapons and equipment in the front seat, but still, was it really necessary for Bryan to be locked in the back of the vehicle like a common criminal—like he was under arrest or something? But then Ali remembered that when her almost–ex husband, Paul Grayson, had been run over by a speeding freight in southern California, the investigating officers had driven her to Riverside in the back of a patrol car as well. Perhaps this was the same protocol and it meant nothing. Maybe Ali was simply reading too much into it.
“If you’d like me to, madam,” Leland Brooks said quietly, “I’d be happy to track down the work crew and relay the bad news.”
Ali knew that in the past, Leland had dealt with Arabella Ashcroft’s periodic flights from sanity by retreating into that very proper butler mode. Dave’s uncharacteristic detour into formality had disturbed her, but as Leland switched gears, Ali felt herself comforted.
“Thank you,” Ali said. “That would be greatly appreciated.”
Ali sat staring into the depths of her teacup and thought about two little girls coming home to the shock of finding their mother murdered. It appalled Ali to think about them being thrust into this awful turmoil and then being carted off to the sheriff’s office by some stranger to await the arrival of their father.
Ali’s cell phone rang. Glad to be jolted out of her grim contemplations, she hurried to answer, but it didn’t do her much good.
“Have you heard about Morgan Forester?” Edie Larson asked. “It’s positively dreadful! I still can’t believe it.”
Ali Reynolds had always marveled at her mother’s uncanny ability to know everything that was going on in Sedona, Arizona, before almost anyone else did. Since Edie’s sources were quick and nearly always accurate, Ali didn’t bother questioning them now. Obviously, whoever had delivered the news knew what was going on.
“Just did,” Ali admitted. “Dave was here a few minutes ago and told Bryan what had happened.”
“Those poor sweet little girls,” Edie went on. “Can you imagine coming home from school and finding something like that? The one is already such an odd little duck, I doubt she’ll ever recover.”
“Odd?” Ali asked.
“They’re twins, you know,” Edie said. “They’ve come to the Sugarloaf on occasion, usually with their daddy.” The Sugarloaf Café was the family-owned diner Ali’s parents had run for years.
“The two of them are the cutest little things. They look just alike, but the one—I don’t know which is which—talks nonstop. She chatters on and on like a little magpie, while the other one never says a word. The one eats everything in sight and cleans her plate without the least bit of fuss. The other one has to have everything on a separate plate—one plate for the eggs, another for the hash browns, another for the bacon, and still another for her toast or sweet roll. God forbid if one crumb of food should touch another. It’s always a problem when they come in, because there’s not enough room on our four-tops for one person to use four separate plates.” Edie paused and then added, “I guess you’ve never waited on them.”
Periodically, Ali pitched in as a substitute waitress. She knew of several adult customers with similar phobias, but she didn’t remember ever waiting on Bryan Forester’s little girls. “I guess not,” she agreed.
“I’m baking one of my tuna casseroles right now. Your dad will deliver it to their house a little later. I understand Bryan’s folks moved down to Sun City a few years ago. His dad has arthritis, and the winters up here were too cold, but I’m sure they’re on their way. I don’t know about Morgan’s folks. It seems to me they’re not from around here.”
Ali didn’t know anything about Morgan Forester’s family. Wherever her parents lived, once they learned the news, their hearts, too, would be broken, but Ali suspected that no one from either side of the family would be very interested in Edie Larson’s excellent tuna casserole.
“If the house is a crime scene, it’ll be empty,” Ali said quietly. “No one will be allowed to be there.”
“You’re right, of course,” Edie said after a pause. “Well, then, I’ll talk to one of the neighbors and find out where your father should deliver the food once I have it ready. Now, what about Thanksgiving?”
Her seamless segue from tuna casserole to turkey and dressing left Ali momentarily confounded.
“I know you had your heart set on having everyone over to your new place,” Edie continued. “But we have to be realistic. That just isn’t going to happen. We need a new plan.”
If Edie Larson had a sentimental bone in her body, her daughter had never seen it. After spending her entire lifetime either working in or running a restaurant and being in the day-to-day business of food, Edie looked at life’s ups and downs through a framework of what needed to be cooked, where, and when. Yes, Morgan Forester’s murder was a terrible thing, but after taking care of that required tuna casserole, Edie was ready to move on to the next piece of critical culinary business—Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, Ali had been so shocked by what had happened that she had yet to consider how the terrible disruptions in Bryan Forester’s life might also impact her own situation.
“Don’t worry about it, Mom,” Ali said. “I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
Ali was hanging up when Leland emerged from the house and began gathering up the tea things. She passed him her cup, cold now but still half full.
“You told them?” she asked.
Leland nodded somberly. “I talked to Billy, Mr. Forester’s second in command. He said that if it’s all the same to you, they’d like to come on the job tomorrow anyway. If he can get the building inspector to come out and sign off on the permits, he said they’ll be able to go ahead with the wallboarding with or without Mr. Forester. But only if you don’t mind.”
The fact that Bryan’s crew was ready and willing to move forward without him seemed commendable. “It’s fine with me,” Ali said.
Leland nodded. “Very good, madam,” he said. “I told them I’d let them know if you had any objections.”
As if on cue, the workmen emerged from the building. Carrying tool belts, tool cases, and lunch boxes, they headed first to the Mini-Mobile, the metal storage unit where they stowed tools and supplies. Leland locked it each evening after the workmen left the job site and opened it every morning before they arrived. Minutes after the workmen left, the camera crew decamped as well, but they took their load of expensive equipment along with them. Leland picked up the tray, but before he could head back to his cozy fifth wheel, Ali stopped him.
“Detective Holman asked me if Mr. Forester had been here all day,” she said casually.
Dave had come to notify Bryan Forester of his wife’s death, but Ali had no doubt the man had been in Dave’s sights as a possible perpetrator from the moment Morgan’s homicide had been reported, and Dave had already started the process of tracing Bryan’s movements.
Leland returned the heavy tray to the table. “I seem to recall he did arrive a little later than usual,” he said thoughtfully. “Most of the time he’s here early enough to park at the top of the driveway. Today I noticed that his truck was down near the bottom of the hill.”
Ali nodded. “Did he seem upset to you?” she asked.
Leland frowned. “Now that you mention it,” he said, “I believe Mr. Forester did appear to be slightly out of sorts. He spent a good part of the day talking on his phone.”
“Did he happen to mention any kind of difficulty at home?” Ali asked.
Leland gave her a wry smile. “That’s not the kind of thing one would mention to the hired help,” he said quietly. “It’s just not done. It’s getting quite cool out here,” he added. “Would you like me to light the heater?”
They had stationed a propane-fueled outdoor heater near the picnic table so the guys could have their morning coffee without freezing their butts off.
“That’s all right,” Ali said. “I think I’ll head home.”
“By the way,” he reminded her, “it is Monday. Your evening to cook, I believe. Would you like me to come by and throw something together for you?”
Ali looked at this remarkably caring man.
“Thanks for keeping me on track,” Ali said. “You’ve done more than enough for today. I’ll handle dinner.”
“Very well,” Leland said. “Will we see you in the morning?”
“If the work crew is coming, I’m coming,” Ali told him.
But as Ali pulled out of the driveway, she wasn’t thinking about getting her job done. She was thinking about two little girls, Morgan Forester’s daughters, who would have to grow up without their mother.
Poor babies, Ali said to herself. Those poor babies.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author J.A. Jance. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
- Ali doesn’t know Bryan Forester very well, and yet she’s convinced he’s innocent of his wife’s murder. What makes her believe in him? Why does the rest of the community, people who have known Bryan his whole life, assume he’s guilty?
- When discussing her second husband, Ali always uses his full name: Paul Grayson. Why does she do this? Considering their history, is this a defense mechanism?
- “I always tried to raise him to be independent, Ali thought ruefully. I may have succeeded too well” (pg. 88). How would you describe the various parent-child relationships in Cruel Intent? Consider Ali and Chris, Ali and her parents, Bryan and his daughters, Leland’s friend Prescott and his children, amongst others. Which emotions are driving factors in these relationships?
- In her video on Singleatheart.com, Morgan Forester says she doesn’t want to go to her grave wondering about the Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is.” Does the video provide honest insight into Morgan’s life, or is it another one of her manipulations? Which other characters might wonder is that all there is?
- Describe Ali’s relationship with Dave Holman. Is he jealous when she defends Bryan? If so, is that one of the reasons he’s convinced of Bryan’s guilt?
- Why does Ali turn down work offers from her agent, Jacky? What does she want to do with her life?
- What drives the killer and how does he choose his victims?
- “The truth was, Ali wanted to go, too. Bryan Forester was part of her life; so were his girls. If there was anything she personally could do to help them, she would” (pg. 195). There are many other people Ali is quick to help. Is this simply her nature, or has she learned to relate to those in need of help? When should she volunteer, and when should she allow people to protect themselves?
- What do Ali and Leland mean to each other? Why does he keep his feelings about her somewhat secret from Ali?
- In the end, is the killer more upset that he was caught, or that he was caught by a woman?
Enhance Your Book Club:
Ali Reynolds is not the only one who keeps a blog. To learn more about J.A. Jance, visit her blog at: http://www.jajance.com/jajance.com/Blog/Blog.html
The Sugar Loaf Café is the hub of activity in Cruel Intent. Hold your book club meeting at a local, old-fashioned café or diner. Or better yet—try J.A. Jance’s Sugar Loaf Sweet Role recipe available at: http://www.jajance.com/jajance.com/Sugar_Loaf_Cafe/Sugar_Loaf_Cafe.html
Morgan Forester claims Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is” inspired her to seek something more out of life. Find a recording of the song and play it before your meeting. Which songs might inspire other characters?
A Conversation with J.A. Jance:
Considering Cruel Intent is the fourth novel in a series, what measures did you take to familiarize new readers with the previously established characters? Can those unfamiliar with Ali Reynold’s story fully appreciate Cruel Intent?
After a mere five minutes I have now figured out how to turn off italics on the Mac. Now I can answer the question.
Writing another installment in an ongoing series is always challenging. Each book reaches new readers as well as old ones. The beginning passages of the book have to introduce both characters that are specific to this book only as well as the continuing characters. This has to be done in a way that gives new readers enough information so they feel as though they’ve read a complete book. It also has to be done without boring my long term readers to death with information they already know. At the same time, I want new readers to be interested in going back and reading the PREVIOUS books. In other words, there’s a fine line between giving too much information and not enough information. It’s a lot like walking a tightrope—without a net.
The reader knows the killer’s identity from the opening pages. Why did you choose to reveal this information? As a writer, what were the greatest challenges in maintaining suspense?
The reader knows the killer’s identity and that he’s dangerous. The suspense comes from what kind of impact he will have on Ali’s life and on the lives of the people she loves.
Like Ali, you keep your own blog (www.jajance.com). Why did you decide to start one? Do you prefer writing novels or the more conversational tone of a blog? What feedback have you received from family, friends, and fans?
Writing books is work. Writing the blog is going on vacation. And it turns out it’s difficult to update the blog when I’m up to my eyeballs in trying to finish a book. Both kinds of writing take energy and concentration, and there’s only so much of both.
I’ve heard from people who, after discovering the blog, have gone through the archives and read them all. That’s more than two years’ worth of entries. It has to be a lot like reading a serialized autobiography. People write to me when pieces of my story touch pieces of their individual stories. I think people take a personal interest in my life and times. Most of the time that’s fine. Sometimes it becomes worrisome.
Considering they weren’t directly related to the criminal case, why did you include Haley and Marissa’s scholarship storyline?
Because that’s part of Ali’s life. It’s also part of her responsibility. She assumed that mantle; she has to deal with it. It’s like putting a pet or a child in a book. The author needs to pay attention to the fact that having a child or a pet requires more than a literary nod in their direction. Real people have to deal with those kinds of things; so do fictional ones—at least my fictional one.
Matthew Morrison’s life might have been completely different if it were not for that fateful moment when he returned to the checkout line at his neighborhood Lowe’s to retrieve the eighty-seven cents he was owed. Do you ever wonder about a singular moment that might have completely altered your own life?
Yes. All my life I wanted to be a writer and was told no, time after time. In fact, I spent eighteen years with a wannabe writer who never published anything but who insisted he was the only writer in our family. In order to support my children, I was selling life insurance. I heard about the Dale Carnegie Course on Winning Friends and Influencing People. I thought taking it would turn me into a better insurance salesperson. We were asked to give a talk on an incident that had changed our lives. I spoke about the time in the early seventies when my first husband and I crossed paths with a serial killer. When the talk was over, someone came up to me and said, “Someone should write a book about that.” My mental response was. “I’m divorced now. What’s stoping me?” Carp Erickson’s words were spoken on a Thursday night. I started writing my first book—a book that was never published—on Sunday afternoon. That was in March of 1982. If it hadn’t been for that life-changing comment, I have no idea how much longer it would have taken for me to start writing.
On the video available at your SimonandSchuster.com author page, you mention your father read poetry to you as a child. Which are your favorite poems? Have any directly inspired one of your novels?
I loved the unqualified heroism of “Horatius at the Bridge;” I love the cadence of “The Song of the Shirt” and the “Wreck of the Hesparis;” I love the humor of “I Had but Fifty Sense.” While I was attending the University of Arizona, I had the opportunity to hear C.D. Lewis read his own work. His “Sheepdog Trials in Hyde Park” and “Baucis and Philemon” are two of my favorites. I used a line from “Baucis and Philemon” in one of my short stories, “Flash of Chrysanthemum.”
You were raised in Arizona, which is also the setting for Cruel Intent and many of your other novels. What is your favorite aspect of life in Arizona? Would you consider writing a novel set in a completely foreign environment?
I use familiar locations because they’re. . .well . . . familiar. I know what the weather will be—how it will feel; how it will smell. I know the geography and the scenery. That means I can report on things in the background while keeping my focus on what my characters are saying and doing in the foreground. When I started writing my Seattle books, I was writing about a Seattle native when I had lived here less than two years. That was tough because readers are quick to spot and willing to let me know when I’m in error. So going back to my Arizona roots is my default mode. As for writing something completely foreign? That could happen, but the character’s foreignness would need to be part of the story.
Will the Ali Reynolds series continue?
What research goes into writing mystery/suspense novels? Has your local police department provided you with insight into their world?
Years ago I participated in a local citizen’s academy that gave me some insight into police work. The classes included a ride-along as well as a Shoot/Don’t Shoot scenario. That taught me more than anything the precious few seconds police officers have to make life and death decisions. I’ve also been fortunate in being able to track down various experts including a man who is a nationally known expert in Internet security issues. He was kind enough to vet the details in Cruel Intent.
Ali’s interests continue to evolve—she worked as an anchorwoman, then kept a blog, and then remodeled her house. Are you the same way? Which new activity would you most like to pursue?
I would like to be better at golf, but not enough to actually take lessons. I would like to be done with remodeling. We’ve been living in a plastic wrapped house for months while we stucco the exterior. The results will be fine. Living in the mess in the meantime is not fine. I want to see another Formula 1 race in person. Being able to watch the races on television is fun and actually a better way to know what’s happening during the race, but being a part of the pageantry is really exhilarating.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've been an avid JA Jance fan for years, reading the Joanna Brady and JP Beaumont series...as I have gotten closer to catching up with her in each series I panicked...I hate having to wait for new books in series I love...it's like waiting to visit with friends you love! So I decide to try the Ali Reynolds series...I can't put them down. I love Ali and her cast of characters as much if not more than Joanna and my much loved JP. Anyone who enjoys mystery and series must read these books...find #1 and dive in...you won't be sorry.
A fun read knowing "who did it" & then watching the events play out. I've read almost all of her books and this is the best!
This is one of my favorite authors, and as always she has produced a great story. Allison Reynolds is her third series, and I highly recommend her J.P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady series, too. She's a fantastic writer, and I've enjoyed all of her books.
Ali Reynolds is in the process of having her house renovated in Sedona, AZ, by contractor Bryan Forester. That is until Forester is arrested for the brutal murder of his wife Morgan. Ali doesn't believe he's guilty and sets out to look into Morgan's life. She finds Morgan had been dating men through singleheard.com, a site set up for married people to find others willing to have an affair. So Ali joins to see if there could be any correlation with why she was murdered. Leland Brooks, her inherited butler and personal assistant, continues to coordinate the renovations when Forester's men decide to stay on the job. What a great help he is! Once Bryan is out on bail, he notifies Ali that the money she gave him for her new kitchen cupboards is missing. His wife had always done the books. He has discovered she was embezzling money from him. Ali, believing in Bryan, pays the cupboard contractor directly as she wants to have the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner in her newly renovated house. Yavapai Co. Sheriff's Detective Dave Holman believes Bryan to be guilty and isn't too happy with Ali for supporting him. Ali and Dave have had an on again off again relationship. This just strains it further. To complicate things further, Chris, Ali's son, has recently become engaged to a coworker. Edie, Ali's mom, unknowingly puts a strain on this new relationship when she "helps" them with their engagement party. Plus Edie has just purchased a pink taser. Ali's father fear she will get herself into big trouble with it. As the holiday looms closer, Ali finds herself deeper and deeper in internet stalking and danger. I love this series. Ali is such a wonderful character. I think the addition of Leland Brooks to the series was terrific. Ali's family always provides a lot of material for the series as well. I think the internet stalking is such a timely subject and was handled so well in this book. It really helps people to think before putting information out there and believing everything people say. This fast-paced mystery thriller will keep you turning the pages. I highly recommend this book and the complete series.
In Sedona, Arizona former TV news reporter Ali Reynolds is renovating a house when the wife of her contractor is found brutally murdered in their home. Police Detective Dave Holman suspects the husband Bryan Forrester killed his stay at home wife and mom Morgan as the violence implies someone passionately involved with the victim. Ali believes Bryan¿s proclamation of innocence, but no one else does.------------- Feeling obligated and also needing her home ready for the Thanksgiving invasion, Ali investigates, which leads her to singleatheart.com, a website where ¿married singles¿ can harmlessly flirt. As she digs deeper, she realizes a serial killer is hacking into homes with Morgan being number five. With all that info, she remains ignorant to the fact that the culprit is watching her.------------- The fourth Reynolds investigative tale (see HAND OF EVIL) is an exciting fast-paced thriller that starts at hyperspeed and accelerates from there. Although a couple of key late spins subtract from the plausibility, fans of J.A. Jance will enjoy her latest whodunit especially when the heroine finds family members wanting to help her but for the most part hinder her except for one key late intrusion.-------------- Harriet Klausner
This has to be the one of the most boring Ali Reynolds novels yet. Maybe not quite as bad as the first one but this one doesn't have the excuse of just starting to set up the series and introduce the characters I wish Jance would stick to the Joanna Brady series. They are far more interesting. Stephanie Clanahan
JA Jance is a favorite author. I enjoy the Ali Reynolds series. Good characters suspenseful stories. Good read.
I have read all of the Ali Reynolds mysteries and have enjoyed every one of them. I enjoy mysteries but not those that get into blood and guts.
good book, but then all her books are good.
As with all the Ali Reynolds books, a very good and riveting story!
I have been a fan of J.A. for some years. I love her characters...Brady and Beaumont...and the inidividual stories she has done. Now we have another character...Ali Reynolds. I love them all because they are so different but good reads.Now I have to finish what I am currently reading so I can read #5.