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Kiss of the Bees (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #2)

Kiss of the Bees (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #2)

4.0 38
by J. A. Jance

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In Tuscon, twenty years ago, a psychopath named Andrew Carlisle brought blood and terror into the home of Diana Ladd Walker and her family. When Carlisle died in prison, Diana and her husband, ex-county sheriff Brandon Walker, believed their long nightmare was finally over. They were wrong. Their beloved adopted daughter Lani has vanished -- a beautiful


In Tuscon, twenty years ago, a psychopath named Andrew Carlisle brought blood and terror into the home of Diana Ladd Walker and her family. When Carlisle died in prison, Diana and her husband, ex-county sheriff Brandon Walker, believed their long nightmare was finally over. They were wrong. Their beloved adopted daughter Lani has vanished -- a beautiful Native American teenager destined, according to Tohono O'othham legend, to become a woman of great spiritual power. A serial killer is dead, but his malevolance lives on in another - and now the fiend holds Lani's innocent life in his eager hands. Before he snuffs it out completely, he intends to make his young prisoner -- and, more importantly, her parents -- suffer a slow and agonizing torture. For only this will avenge his friend and mentor, his dark god, Andrew Carlisle.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
January 2000

Kiss of the Bees

An intensely thought-provoking blend of character study, mysticism, and pure page-turning suspense, Kiss of the Bees is the new novel from J. A. Jance — and a major departure from both the J. P. Beaumont series and the author's six mysteries featuring Sheriff Joanna Brady. Here, Jance exercises all her skills for researching Native American legend and fuses them to an incredibly moving thriller that will both fascinate and terrify readers. Kiss of the Bees transcends the crime-action field and serial killer subgenre, taking the best from those territories and surpassing them both.

When a psychopathic creative writing professor, Andrew Carlisle, attacked and nearly murdered Diana Ladd, her son Davy, and housekeeper "Nana Dahd" 20 years ago, he left behind a wake of haunting horror. Blinded and crippled in the aftermath of the brutal events, Carlisle is imprisoned with nothing to sustain him but his rage and desire for revenge. At about the same time, an embittered Mitch Johnson is arrested by Diana's soon-to-be husband, Brandon Walker, and imprisoned for murdering three illegal immigrants. The two men become cell mates, and Carlisle finds Johnson to be a willing pupil; together they set out to scheme against the Ladd-Walker family. Nearly two decades later, Carlisle dies in prison of AIDS, but not before his plans have been set in motion.

The Ladd-Walker family has been slowly coming apart at the seams since the attack. David, nowalaw school student, suffers from paralyzing panic attacks. Brandon's son, Quentin, is a troublemaking ex-con who formed an association with Carlisle and Johnson in prison. The wedge driven between Diana and Brandon has grown even wider since the publication of Diana's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, entitled Shadow of Death, which describes the assault in excruciating detail. The only one who seems to have survived the trauma intact is Diana and Brandon's adopted daughter, Lani, a beautiful Native American teenager who has learned the lessons of Nana Dahd well — and she will need them all if she is to survive the evil forces about to invade the family's life once again.

To Jance's great credit, she allows the story to unfold slowly in a series of flashbacks and artful retellings of the circumstances, allowing the reader to enter the lives of all involved and seeing different facets of the overall arcing tale. Her prose is sleek and fast and capable of generating high amounts of tension. The exposition is kept to a bare minimum as the reader is drawn into the lives of the protagonists and antagonists, each layer of the story deliberately revealed from a different perspective. Each chapter begins with a Tohono O'othham legend that underscores all the circumstances, good and bad, going on in the novel. The powerful lessons of myth and religion are shown in their most essential and beneficial sense as Nana Dahn instills the children with a sense of self and purpose that they use to the fullest in order to survive the horrors that befall them.

Kiss of the Bees is a compelling novel with a convincing mix of action, psychological suspense, and Native American mysticism that serves to keep the tale moving and make it even larger than the sum of the events it portrays. The characters are fully fleshed, so that we come to care for them in all their crisis situations. Jance poignantly sets up an ebb and flow of terror, fortitude, and magic. The reader is provided not only with a vibrant depiction of the land but also with the authentic metaphysical atmosphere that envelops the characters.

Though comparisons to the work of Tony Hillerman are inevitable, Jance manages to use many of the same elements to a much different end. Kiss of the Bees is a novel of raw beauty and significance on many levels, with the precise amount of nefarious mayhem, superstition, and personal empowerment that breaks the mold and creates a whole new form of profound, and unforgettable, storytelling.

Toby Bromberg
Established mysterian J.A. Jance comes up with a novel of pulse-pounding suspense in Kiss of The Bees. The tale is a harrowing one, bound to keep readers on the edge of their seats. The excitement is so intense that you will be holding your breath until the last, satisfying page.
Romantic Times
Flint Journal
In the elite company of Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell...J.A. Jance has really hit her stride...
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A horrifying journey into terror.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A gripping thriller.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jance takes time out from her popular series featuring lawyer J.P. Beaumont (Breach of Duty) and Sheriff Joanna Brady (Outlaw Mountain) with this many-layered but overplotted suspense novel, set in the Arizona desert and suffused with the mystery and otherworldliness of Papago Indian folklore. Ex-con Mitch Johnson takes revenge on prize-winning author Diana Ladd Walker and former Tucson sheriff Brandon Walker by abducting their adopted teenage Papago daughter, Lani . (Years earlier, Brandon arrested Mitch for killing two illegal aliens; Diana blinded and maimed Mitch's prison cellmate when he attacked her.) Just as the vicious Apaches were the Papagos' most feared enemies, so the unredeemingly vile Mitch is the Walkers' relentless waking nightmare, prone to torture. As the search for Lani accelerates, the interplay among the large cast of Anglo and Indian characters, bound together by kinship, upbringing and respect or animosity, increases. The baggage they bring to the story and their interlocking relationships could overwhelm a less accomplished writer, but Jance has a sure hand. As she cuts from one set of characters to another, as well as from past to present, she creates a coherent and engrossing novel that uses the dreamlike Papago creation myth to artfully combine magic and reality; each chapter is introduced with a pertinent portion of the legend. Unfortunately, a few clunky clues stand out like beacons and when justice finally prevails, it's tied up in a package whose neatness seems more magical than real. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Best known for her two series featuring Seattle police detective J.P. Beaumont and Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady, Jance returns to Pima County, AZ, in this sequel to Hour of the Hunter, in which Diana Ladd Walker was stalked by the brutal psychopath Andrew Carlisle. Diana has since written an award-winning book about her ordeal. Dying in prison, Carlisle trains the vicious racist Mitch Johnson, who had been arrested by Diana's husband, Brandon, when he was sheriff, to seek revenge against the Walkers. Out of prison, Johnson poses as an artist to befriend and abduct the Walkers' adopted teenaged daughter, Lani, a Native American. Tribal Chair Gabe "Fat Crack" Ortiz invokes Indian mysticism to try to protect the girl, who also employs spiritual powers against her kidnapper. Jance's use of Indian folkways is interesting, but the effect is offset by the depressing creepiness of the villains. Even Gene Engene's smooth reading cannot overcome the gruesome violence and the unpleasantness of placing a child in such danger. Not recommended.--Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series , #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

They say it happened long ago that the whole world was covered with water. I'itoi -- Elder Brother -- was floating around in the basket which he had made. After a time, Great Spirit came out of his basket and looked around. Everything was still covered with water, so I'itoi made himself larger and larger until shuhthagi -- the water -- reached only to his knees.

Then, while I'itoi was walking around in the water, he heard someone call. At first he paid no attention, but when the call came the fourth time, Elder Brother went to see who was shouting. And so I'itoi found Jeweth Mahka i -- Earth Medicine Man -- rejoicing because he was the first one to come out of the water.

Elder Brother said, "This is not true." He explained that he himself was first, but Jeweth Mahkai was stubborn and insisted that he was first.

Now I'itoi and Earth Medicine Man, as they were talking, were standing in the south. They started toward the west. As they were going through the water -- because there was as yet very little land -- they heard someone else shouting.

Ban -- Coyote --was the one who was making all the noise. I'itoi went toward the sound, but Elder Brother went one way, and Ban went another. And so they passed each other. Coyote was shouting that he was the very first one out of the water and that he was all alone in the world.

I'itoi called to Ban, and at last they came together. Elder Brother explained to Coyote that he was not the first. And then the three -- Great Spirit, Earth Medicine Man, and Coyote -- started north together. As they went over the mud, I'itoi saw some very smalltracks.

Elder Brother said, "There must be somebody else around." Then they heard another voice calling. It was Bitokoi -- Big Black Beetle -- which the Mil-gahn, the Whites, call stinkbug. Bitokoi told I'itoi that he was the very first to come out of the water. I'itoi did not even bother to answer him.

And then the four -- Elder Brother, Earth Medicine Man, Coyote, and Big Black Beetle -- went on together toward the east because, as you remember, nawoj, my friend, all things in nature go in fours.

JUNE 1996

Dolores Lanita Walker's slender brown legs glistened with sweat as she pumped the mountain bike along the narrow strip of pavement that led from her parents' house in Gates Pass to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum several miles away. Lani wasn't due at her job at the concession stand until 9 A.M., but by going in early she had talked her way into being allowed to help with some of the other duties.

About a mile or so from the entrance, she came upon the artist with his Subaru wagon parked off on the side of the road. He had been there every morning for a week now, standing in front of an easel or sitting on a folding chair, pad in hand, sketching away as she came whizzing past with her long hair flying out behind her like a fine black cape. In the intervening days they had grown accustomed to seeing one another.

The man had been the first to wave, but now she did, too. "How's it going?" he had asked her each morning after the first one or two.

"Fine," she'd answer, pumping hard to gain speed before the next little lump of hill.

"Come back when you can stay longer," he'd call after her. Lani would grin and nod and keep going.

This morning, though, he waved her down. "Got a minute?" he asked.

She pulled off the shoulder of the road. "Is something the matter?" she asked.

"No. I just wanted to show you something." He opened a sketch pad and held it up so Lani could see it. The picture took her breath away. It was a vivid color-pencil drawing of her, riding through the sunlight with the long early-morning shadows stretching out before her and with her hair floating on air behind her.

"That's very good," she said. "It really does look like me."

The man smiled. "It is you," he said. "But then, I've had plenty of time to practice."

Lani stood for a moment studying the picture. Her parents' twentieth wedding anniversary was coming up soon, in less than a week. Instinctively she knew that this picture, framed, would make the perfect anniversary present for them.

"How much would it cost to buy something like this?" she asked, wondering how far her first paycheck from the museum would stretch.

"It's not for sale," the man said.

Lani looked away, masking her disappointment with downcast eyes. "But I might consider trading for it," he added a moment later.

Lani brightened instantly. "Trading?" she asked. "Really?" But then disappointment settled in again. She was sixteen years old. What would she have to trade that this man might want?

"You're an Indian, aren't you?" he asked. Shyly, Lani nodded. "But you live here. In Tucson, I mean. Not on a reservation. "

Lani nodded again. It didn't seem necessary to explain to this man that she was adopted and that her parents were Anglos. It was none of his business.

"I've tried going out to the reservation to paint several times," he told her, "but the people seem to be really suspicious. If you'd consider posing for me, just for half an hour or so some morning, I'd give you this one for free."

"For free? Really?"


Lani didn't have to think very long. "When would you like to do it?" she asked.

"Tomorrow morning?"

"That would work," Lani said, "but I'd have to come by about half an hour earlier than this, otherwise I'll be late for work."

The man nodded. "That's fine," he said. "I'll be here. And could I ask a favor?"

Lani, getting back on her bike, paused and gave him a questioning look. "What's that?"

"Could you wear something that's sort of...well, you know" -- he shrugged uncomfortably --"something that looks Indian...

Kiss of the Bees. 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.

Brief Biography

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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Kiss of the Bees (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #2) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a very effective sequel to Hour of the Hunter, Judith A. Jance has composed another work of genius with Kiss of the Bees. Those of you who are fans of the regrettably, often-overlooked Hour of the Hunter will again be rapt with fear and wonder as you read through the pages of this beautifully crafted blend of Native American legend and tradition; South Western culture, and murder. Her research in these areas is thorough. Do not, however, become lulled by the Native American story that begins each chapter, because what follows may be one of the most chilling descriptions of assault and murder you will ever read! Jance has a long list of comfortable characters that recur in her Beaumont and Brady books. 'Bone' the wonderful large wolfhound-like mutt/hero that appeared in Hour of the Hunter and is reprised briefly as a memory in Kiss of the Bees is such a character. But many characters in KOTB are in one way or another, rising above grave traumas that have occurred in their lives. This is a book in which Jance doesn't let the reader or the characters get too comfortable. Diana Ladd Walker continues to recover from the aftermath of her terrifying experience with Andrew Carlisle.(HOTH) Brandon Walker is cutting and stacking wood to help deal with the betrayal of his son,Quentin, the disappearance and presumed death of another son, and defeat in his incumbent election for sheriff. Rita Antone/Nana DAHD is orphaned as a child, her only son has died, and she is living outside of the Native American culture. Lanita Ladd Walker lost her natural family and almost died as a result of being badly stung by the 'Little People'(ants, wasps, and bees)as a toddler. Andrew Carlisle and Mitch Johnson may be the least comfortable characters that Jance has penned todate. We don't want to know that people like that actually exist. Disturbingly, these characters are difficult to unload once they have made thir way into the reader's mind. Would their demises really be enough to put them away for good? Loyal Jance readers know that they can depend on her to tie up all of the loose ends before the last sentence is written. The fact that many characters have survived lives filled with tragic events is a tribute to their strength and complexity. I highly recommend Kiss of the Bees to mystery readers everywhere, but with fair warning. This book is not a Brady or a Beaumont. It is a Walker. Get this one 'hot off the press' and plan to set some time aside for immediate reading! You will not want to put it down! If you have not read Hour of the Hunter you have missed a gem!
trainerfl More than 1 year ago
I started reading JA Jance about 2 years ago when my favorite authors were not writing fast enough to keep up with all my reading, I started with an Ali Reynolds book, loved it, then went through that series quickly. Once I finished that I worked my way through the entire Joanna Brady and JP Beaumont series. When I finished them all, I was feeling JA Jance withdrawl, so I decided to try the other 3 books by this author that featured the Walker family. Boy, am I glad I did, I flew threw Hour of the Hunter and Kiss the bees, and am now about 1/2 way through Day of the Dead. I have found this series to be really great and different from this authors other character series. I have come to really love this authors books, I find them very intriguing to the point where I don't want to put them down and my partner has to tell me turn out the light and go to bed! Highly reccomend this author to any mystery reader lover!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book will keep you up reading.its a horrifying journey to terror. the great part about it. it dont bore you
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book, and some times found it difficult to put down. The plot for the most part moved right along, the characters were very real and easy to idenity with . . . Another great book is Stolen Moments by Barbara Jeanne Fisher. This too is a story that will touch your heart and change your life forever. . . Read both books . . .they are top notch reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
J. A. Jance is a superb story teller, and ¿Kiss of the Bees¿ is Jance at her best. In it, a convict, Mitch Johnson, under the tutelage of his cellmate and mentor, Andrew Carlisle, is released from prison and carries out a sadistic plot of revenge against a former county sheriff and his family. Jance has done extensive research into Native American folklore, bringing a mythological context to this battle between good and evil. This is a skillfully-plotted thriller that will please the most demanding of armchair adventure seekers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many characters and too many story l inesres of m
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very super duper nice. I like is alot.
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LandofEnchantment More than 1 year ago
I have read other series by this author and loved them; this is the only book of this series I have read, however, it is just not my personal preference - too much gruesome reality for me. Also, to my thinking, the entire premise of an abduction of one of the main characters is faulty, based on the background and past events in the lives of the main characters involved.
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Binker More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Jance, but I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this book. I perservered and was glad I did. Great story overall, but I came away still confused about some details, feeling as if I had missed something. Hope you fare better.
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