Outlaw Mountain (Joanna Brady Series #7)

Outlaw Mountain (Joanna Brady Series #7)

by J. A. Jance

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A breathtaking story of senseless, brutal death in a desolate terrain from New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance

What kind of monster would savagely murder a 71-year-old and leave her battered corpse to rot in the Arizona desert? A crime so patently inhuman, it shocks even those who should be used to death—like Joanna Brady, sheriff of Cochise County. But the slaying of a complex and truly uncommon senior is only one thread in a bloody tapestry—as death follows death in horrific succession, leading one dedicated officer of the law to risk everything as she seeks answers in the lethal shadow of Outlaw Mountain.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061998973
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/28/2010
Series: Joanna Brady Series , #7
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 108,530
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About 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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Easing the porch swing back and forth, thirty-year-old Sheriff Joanna Brady closed her green eyes and let the warmth of an early-November Sunday afternoon caress her body. Nearby, on the top step, sat Joanna's best friend and pastor, the Reverend Marianne Maculyea of Canyon United Methodist Church. Without speaking for minutes at a time, the two women watched their respective children-Joanna's eleven-year-old Jennifer and Marianne's three-year-old Ruth-at play.

Both sets of mothers and daughters were studies in contrast. Joanna's red hair was cut short in what Helen Barco at Helene's Salon of Hair and Beauty called a figure-skater cut. On this Sunday afternoon, Marianne's long dark hair was pulled back in a serviceable ponytail. Jenny's fair, blue-eyed face was surrounded by a halo of tow-headed white hair while Ruth's shiny black pageboy gleamed in the warm autumn sun.

The last week in October, a surprisingly fierce cold snap had visited southeastern Arizona, bringing with it a frigid rain that had threatened to drown out most of Bisbee's Halloween trick-or-treating. Two days later, when bright sunlight reemerged, the cottonwood, apple, and peach trees on High Lonesome Ranch seemed to have changed colors overnight. In the sunny days and crisp nights since, dying leaves had drifted from their branches and had fallen to earth, carpeting the yard in a thick mantle of gold, red, rust, and brown.

For little Ruth, recently rescued from life in a desolate Chinese orphanage, the crackly, multicolored leaves were a source of incredible wonder and delight. Together the two girls raked great mounds of leaves into piles, then dived into themwith a chorus of shrieks alternating with giggles.

For a while both of Jenny's dogs-Sadie, a bluetick hound, and Tigger, a comical-looking half pit bull/half golden retriever-had joined in. When Sadie tired of the game, she retreated to the relative quiet of the porch along with Joanna and Marianne. With a sigh, the dog lay down on the top step and placed her smooth, floppy-eared head in Marianne's lap. Tigger, however, continued to throw himself into the festivities with all the antic energy of a born clown.

On Jenny's command to "stay," the dog, quivering with eager anticipation, would lie perfectly still and allow himself to be covered with a mound of leaves. When Jenny shouted "okay," the dog would erupt from the leaves, tuck his tail between his legs, and then race around the yard as though pursued by a pack of ravenous coyotes.

Each time the game was repeated, Ruth clapped her hands in childish delight. "Again, Jenny," she crowed. "Do again!"

Watching the simple game and enjoying the gales of gleeful laughter, Joanna Brady found herself nodding and smiling. She was about to comment on the beautiful afternoon and on the two girls' unrestrained joy. When she looked in Marianne's direction, however, she saw a single tear snake its way down her friend's solemn face. Seeing that tear, Joanna opted for silence. For the space of another minute or so, neither woman said a word while Marianne's hand absently stroked Sadie's soft, velvety muzzle.

"What is it, Mari?" Joanna asked finally. The question wasn't really necessary because Joanna knew exactly what the problem was. In August, Marianne's other newly adopted daughter-Esther, Ruth's twin sister-had died of complications following heart-transplant surgery. It seemed certain to Joanna that watching two little girls at play on this warm, jewel-clear afternoon had reopened Marianne's aching wound.

Joanna Brady herself was no stranger to the grieving process. The death of her husband, Andy, had thrown her own life into a personal hell of pain and loss. She understood how a perfect moment in a gemlike day could darken and then be dashed to pieces by the sudden realization that someone else was missing from the picture, that a certain loved one wasn't present to share that special moment. At times like these, the perfection of the present would fade to a muddy gray, shrouded behind an impenetrable fog of hurt. Watching one daughter at play, Marianne had no doubt been stricken by a terrible longing for the other child, one who wasn't there and never would be again.

Convinced that she knew exactly what was going on with Marianne, Joanna was confused when, after another minute or so, she heard her friend's clipped response. "I'm going to quit," Marianne said.

At first Joanna didn't make the connection. "Quit what?" she asked.

"The ministry," Marianne replied. "I'm going to resign effective immediately."

Somehow Joanna managed to stifle her gasp of dismay. "Surely you don't mean that!" she said at last.

"I do," Marianne said determinedly. "I've never meant anything more in my life. My letter of resignation is all written. It's sitting in the computer waiting to be printed.There's a church council meeting on Wednesday evening.I'll probably turn it in then."

Stunned, Joanna fell silent.Through the turmoil following Andy's death, Marianne Maculyea and her husband, Jeff Daniels, had been never-failing sources of comfort and support.With their help and encouragement, Joanna had slowly battled her way back to emotional stability.They had walked her through months of painful grieving-through the inevitable stages of denial and anger-until she has at last achieved a measure of acceptance.

That summer, when tragedy had visited her friends in the form of Esther's death, Joanna had done her best to return the favor.She had strived to provide the same kind of understanding and strength for them that they had given her.Now, Joanna realized that her efforts had fallen short.She must not have done enough.Why else would Marianne be sitting on the front porch, basking in the warm afternoon sunlight, and drowning in despair?

Outlaw Mountain. Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents


On Wednesday, July 28th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed J. A. Jance to discuss OUTLAW MOUNTAIN.

Moderator: Welcome, J. A. Jance. We are looking forward to discussing your latest Joanna Brady mystery: OUTLAW MOUNTAIN. How are you doing today?

J. A. Jance: I'm doing all right, except every time I send an answer my computer tells me something is wrong with the page. I hope we don't crash and burn.

Liz from New York: For those of us who haven't read OUTLAW MOUNTAIN, could you give us an idea what it is about? What is Joanna Brady up to?

J. A. Jance: Joanna is duking it out on several different fronts. First, an elderly lady from Tombstone has been murdered, supposedly by a bunch of teenagers who have driven her vehicle into Mexico to sell it. Also, some land developers are up to no good, and so are the people who have set out to stop them, with Joanna and her department caught in the crossfire.

Rebecca Long from Springfield, OH: Hi, Judy. Keep writing great Joanna Brady mysteries. I think they keep getting better and better. I was thinking, what is it about Arizona, besides growing up there, that fascinated you enough to set your Joanna Brady mysteries there? Thanks for chatting tonight!

J. A. Jance: Living in Seattle, it's easy to think longingly about Arizona, especially in January, February, and March. This way, if I can't be there physically, I can send my mind for a sun break whenever I write a book that's set there.

Terry Wilson from San Jose: I love your books and your use of the local landmarks in Arizona. Have you been to the new Karchner Caverns outside of Tucson, and will you use them in one of your next books?

J. A. Jance: I haven't been in Karchner Caverns, but I've been in several other Arizona limestone caves. I make use of one in my next book, KISS OF THE BEES -- a psychological thriller which isn't a Joanna book and isn't a Beaumont, either. It's due out in January of 2000.

David from Australia: What are your main literary influences, and is there any chance you'll visit your Australian fans?

J. A. Jance: My husband is lobbying hard for a trip down under, but there's nothing definite on the calendar right now. My major literary influences come from the fact that I love storytelling, and that's what murder mysteries are. I cut my teeth on John D. McDonald and Mickey Spillane.

Janet from North Carolina: I don't have a question for you -- only praise for your books. When I finished the first Joanna Brady book a couple of months ago, I bought all the others in the series and read them one right after the other. I really enjoyed them. I am looking forward to the latest, and also hope to start on your J. P. Beaumont series! Thanks for hours of great reading!

J. A. Jance: You're more than welcome. If you're going to read the Beau books, you might try reading them in order. They're all in print and listed in chronological order in the front of OUTLAW MOUNTAIN.

MaryAnne from Baltimore: You know all about the West. Did you grow up there? Where do you live now?

J. A. Jance: I grew up in Arizona, went to college there (at the University of Arizona), taught in Tucson and out on the Tohono O'Othham west of there for several years, and then sold life insurance in Bisbee, Tucson, and Phoenix. Now I live in Seattle, so you can see I'm as biregional as my characters.

Marilyn from Xanadu in NC: Would you share parts of your physical writing process? Do you use the computer to compose, edit, and research; how much time do you spend writing each day; how do you avoid interruptions?

J. A. Jance: I work on a laptop computer in my living room. How much time I spend writing each day depends on how close the deadline is looming for the next book. And I don't avoid interruptions. I have a husband, five kids, three grandkids, and three dogs. Interruptions are a way of life.

Lissa Stephens from Seattle: How do you get your inspiration for your different characters, J. P. and Joanna?

J. A. Jance: They seem like real people to me. And since I only have one book in the creative process at any given time, there's no danger of getting them mixed up in my head. Besides, they're very different from one another.

Arlene from Knoxville: I just bought your book but haven't read it yet. I know that someone gets killed by a cholla cactus. What is that?

J. A. Jance: There are several different kinds of cholla. If you look at cholla from a distance, it seems to glow with a kind of golden fuzz, but up close and personal, that fuzz is actually inch- to inch-and-a-half-long spines that seem to reach out to grab any piece of bare skin or clothing. And the trunks are fragile and easily broken -- far more easily broken than the spines are to pull out.

Marilyn from Trinity, NC: As the author of two mystery series, one about a male character (J. P. Beaumont) and one about a female character (Joanna Brady), what differences, if any, do you encounter in the composition process? Is the Brady series easier to write since the protagonist is female? Do you enjoy doing one more than the other? I love both, by the way.

J. A. Jance: The composition process is no different at all. I start with a title, find out who's dead, and then spend the rest of the book finding out who killed that person and why. I don't prefer one character to the other -- I like them both.

Dawn from Geneva, NY: Hi! I simply adore your books and was wondering, where do you get the ideas for your plots from?

J. A. Jance: I think them up. I try not to write books that reflect something that's happened in real life, because I know that real crime affects real people. One Joanna book, DEAD TO RIGHTS, grew out of losing a friend in a drunken driving incident. It did my heart good to see to it that the drunk driver doesn't make it to the end of the second chapter.

Fred Hamilton from Tacoma, WA: Greetings, fellow Washingtonian. Will you be doing any book signings in Seattle for OUTLAW MOUNTAIN? Visiting Tacoma by any chance? Thank you.

J. A. Jance: Right now the only Tacoma area event that I know of is the Lakewood Library author event in September. Call the Pearce County Library for information. I don't have access to my calendar right now, but I think it's sometime in September.

Jason Roth from Billings, MT: Ms. Jance, what went into your decision to use your initials as opposed to your first name? Thank you and have a good night.

J. A. Jance: That decision was made by the marketing department at Avon Books in 1984, when they decided that men wouldn't read a police procedural written by someone named Judith Ann. It's turned out to be a great deal, though. There are so few letters in J. A. Jance that my name can be in really big print on the outside of the books. And it doesn't take long to sign autographs, either.

Rob from Seattle: I love your books. In writing your books, do you ever use real people in your stories? In one of your books you described a hostess in a Bellevue restaurant that fits this woman to a tee. Also, in writing your books, how much research goes into learning new technologies that police departments use?

J. A. Jance: Betty Em happens to be a good friend of mine. So, yes, you've discovered my secret. Sometimes real people do make it into my books. In many instances, they've made donations to various charities for the privileged.

Pat from Washington State: I have read every one of your books, and I have enjoyed them all. Do you have the whole plot of the book laid out before you start writing it?

J. A. Jance: No. See answer above. I start with a title, find out who's dead, and then spend the rest of the book figuring out who did it. I hated outlining when I met it in Mrs. Watkins's 6th grade geography class in Bisbee, Arizona, and nothing that's happened to me since has changed my mind.

Jan Peachey from Vancouver, WA: I grew up in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Will you be doing more settings in that part of Cochise County?

J. A. Jance: Beats me. I have to write the next Beaumont book before I can look at Joanna again. If you've read OUTLAW MOUNTAIN, however, you'll know that Sierra Vista is prominently featured.

Moderator: We'd love to get some recommendations from you -- have you read any good books lately?

J. A. Jance: Yes, I just finished reading Lindsey Davis's ONE VIRGIN TOO MANY. Her detective is a private informer who works for Caesar in ancient Rome. Lots of fun.

Susan from Tulsa, OK: So, what do you think about Jennifer Ann? Do you foresee her following in her mother's footsteps? Could Jennifer Ann (whose initials match your own, I might add) be the subject of your next series?

J. A. Jance: I didn't even notice that Jenny's initials match mine. Thanks for telling me. Maybe she will end up following Joanna. Then, maybe she'll decided to be a writer -- like Butch.

Sue Schott from Little Falls, NJ: How much of yourself do you put into Joanna Brady? Are you as tough as she is?

J. A. Jance: I had to be tough. My second husband, the nice man, says just say "Yes" and let it go at that. My first husband, the rat, died of chronic alcoholism at age 42, a year and a half after I divorced him. I was left a single parent with two little kids. It was hard going.

Val Francona from Norristown, PA: Did you always want to be a writer, Ms. Jance? If so, can you put into words your feelings when you first saw a copy of your finished novel? I work for a small weekly here in the Philadelphia area, and when I published my first article and saw it on the newsstand, I was flabbergasted. I can only imagine what you must have felt seeing your novel on a bookshelf.

J. A. Jance: I wanted to be a writer from the time I was in 2nd grade. And no, there's nothing quite like seeing your first book with a cover and pages and everything. I was taking my Girl Scout troop on a Cookie Reward trip to Victoria, British Columbia, and the book was in the mailroom as we left for the ferry. I read the book on the boat. It was glorious.

Alma from Oxford, Mississippi: Does your husband help you with your books?

J. A. Jance: My husband does help with the books, tracking down research materials and printing the manuscript when I finish. I'm a liberal arts major, after all, and the inner workings of computers and the creation of master documents continue to elude me. He also pays the bills and does most of the cooking. I'll say he helps.

Moderator: What was the worst job you ever had, and why was it so bad? Is there anything else you could see yourself doing if you weren't a writer?

J. A. Jance: I spent one dismal summer working at a drive-in movie theater in Bisbee, and was fired when I insisted on waiting on the kids who were standing with their noses pressed to the counter as opposed to the grownups standing behind them. And no, I can't see myself doing anything other than being a writer. This feels like what I was meant to do all my life.

Parker from Chatham, MA: Is there any chance that any of your books will be made into a movie? Whom would you cast as Joanna Brady?

J. A. Jance: I'm from the John Le Carré school of moviemaking. He says watching your novel get made into a movie is a lot like watching your prizewinning team of oxen get turned into bouillon cubes. Don't hold your breath about a movie, and I don't have any idea whom I'd cast.

llama1300 from aol.com: Have you ever suffered from writer's block, like Butch? Do you have a secret formula for beating it?

J. A. Jance: My worst case of writer's block came when I was writing my psychological thriller, HOUR OF THE HUNTER. It was so bad that I read my University of Arizona alumni magazine from cover to cover. There was an article about the creative writing program there which refused to let me in 1964 because, as the professor told me, I was a girl. I called to see if, after all these years and since I had so many books under my belt, they'd like me to come be writer-in-residence. Only to be told this time, "We don't do anything with genre fiction." It was a miracle. I was cured of writer's block on the spot, and Andrew Carlisle, a former professor of creative writing from the University of Arizona, showed up as a character in HOUR OF THE HUNTER -- as the crazed killer.

Robert from Arlington, VA: What do you read when you're not writing? Who are your favorite writers?

J. A. Jance: I read mysteries because I have always loved mysteries. Lindsey Davis, Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly are some of my current favorites.

Margaret Werner from Washington, D.C.: Ms. Jance, are you a fan of mystery conventions? I'm a huge mystery fan and I live near D.C., which hosts yearly, I believe, one of the nation's biggest conventions, but I'm not sure what they have to offer a fan. Any thoughts?

J. A. Jance: Mystery conventions offer fans the ability to meet and mingle with their favorite authors and also the ability to have books signed. There are panels that allow them to hear their favorites talk as well. Conventions are fun.

Kennetha and Liz from Seattle: We love all your books. You're one of our favorite authors. Are there more Beaumont books in the works?

J. A. Jance: I just started writing Beaumont 15. The poor baby doesn't have a name yet. The publisher and I are negotiating.

David from Oakland, CA: My wife and I both love your books. I am reading the J. P. Beaumont books right now and wonder if you will ever have the Space Needle as a prominent backdrop in one of your books.

J. A. Jance: It could happen. One of the characters in the new book lives in that neighborhood. So far the only place the Space Needle has shown up is, I believe, in INJUSTICE FOR ALL.

Jan from Vancouver, WA: I have read all the Joanna books and I am impressed by the way the characters evolve in each book. Do you keep notes to remind yourself what has happened to the main characters over time?

J. A. Jance: I remember what goes on from book to book. What I do keep notes of is hair color, weapons, cars, et cetera. The little details that need to be consistent.

Moderator: Thank you for answering our various and sundry questions, J. A. Jance. You have many Brady and Beaumont fans out there! Do you have any final comments for the audience this evening?

J. A. Jance: It's been fun. I'm sorry there were the technical questions at the beginning. Those did slow me down. I enjoyed having a chance to interact with my fans (sort of like being at a mystery convention) and to see that I have readers from all over the country.

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Outlaw Mountain (Joanna Brady Series #7) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Outlaw Mountain by J.A. Jance. Good storyline and some of my favorite characters in the Joanna Brady series. Junior, a new character in this novel, was especially special. I recommend the whole Joanna Brady series, I've liked all 7 I have read so far.
Another_Old_Guy More than 1 year ago
I can tell from the other reviews that I wasn't the only disturbed by the incredibly poor proof reading on this book.  There always seem to be a few, and NOOK books seem to get the short end of the stik when it comes to proof reading but this book was terrible.  (Bad enough to take away from the enjoyment of reading.) The basic storyline is pretty good; and this far into the series, the characters are starting to come together.  The basic 'cop' part of the book is still a bit off, but I don't think that will change.  It's more about being a light read, having fun, and not thinking too had about the logistics or procedures that are stretched a bit. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really good storyline, but there are a ridiculous number of typos. They do make reading a little annoying in some sections, but the story is well worth the extra effort. Stephanie Clanahan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, but an appalling number of typographical errors certainly detract from my reading pleasure. Doesn't anyone proofread these books?
Anonymous 5 months ago
I love it when I discover another 'Joanna Brady' that I haven't read! They never disappoint!
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a series I've enjoyed since it began,  although I have not been reading them in any particular order.  In this one, Joanna Brady, sheriff of Cochise County is called upon to investigate and help solve the mystery surrounding the death of an elderly woman whose body is found impaled on hundreds of cactus spines.  At first, it appears that the old lady, who was known to drink more than a few at a time, may have just gotten lost driving in the desert while drunk, left her car in the middle of the night, slipped, fallen and lost the battle to the giant cactus.Although the death doesn't occur inside her jurisdiction, there are several other factors that involve Cochise County officials, and Sheriff Brady begins to suspect murder. There are several likely villains in this one, and more appearances by Joanna's other family members.  In addition, the side story of  "Junior" the lost man-child found abandoned at the local church, and who somehow ends up in Joanna's temporary custody, adds a strong sense of family, caring, and humanity that makes this series one I keep returning to.If you haven't tried any of these, I'd recommend grabbing one the next time they pop up.  I haven't found it necessary to read them in order, so start anyplace you want to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way too many errors that could have been caught by proof reading not just a spell checker. Ex. "Bill of beans" "bolstered his weapon" and many more. Spoils the flow of the story and there is no excuse for this from a well known and we'll paid author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PandaCH More than 1 year ago
The story content was okay but reading this book was extremely annoying!!! Constantly throughout the story there were so many misspelled words or the wrong word was used. Such as referring to her gun as a clock instead of a Glock or calling dirty dishes "dully dishes" at one point it changed a mans first name from Bob to Rob. This happens occasionally in many books but this one was filled with them it is annoying and distracting. I don't know where the problem lies with this. Is it due to transfer to Nook? I double the paper version has these errors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book and series
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SK-Hunsinger More than 1 year ago
Great Book from beginning to end!!! Once I started I couldn't put it down. These books never fail to be great. I love the way she keeps the series going and once you finish one you can't wait to read the next.
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I'm new to ebooks. Are all the typo's to be expected?
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