Shoot Don't Shoot (Joanna Brady Series #3)

Shoot Don't Shoot (Joanna Brady Series #3)

by J. A. Jance

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A prisoner languishes in a Phoenix jail cell, accused of brutally slaying his estranged wife. No one believes the man is innocent, except the new female sheriff of Cochise County, in town for a crash course in police training. Joanna Brady is out of her jurisdiction—and possibly in over her head. For a human monster is on the prowl, hiding the grisly evidence of his horrific crimes in the vast emptiness of the Arizona desert. And an impromptu investigation, with no official sanction and no back up, is drawing a cold, ingenious serial killer much too close to Brady for comfort—and, worse still, closer to her little girl.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061774805
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/30/2009
Series: Joanna Brady Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 89,672
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.00(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

Shoot Don't Shoot

Chapter One

"You never should have gone out with him in the first place," Lael Weaver Gastone told her thirty-year-old daughter, Rhonda. "You should have figured out from the very beginning that a guy like that would be trouble, and you certainly shouldn't have married him."

Holding her hands in her lap, Rhonda Norton examined her tender fingertips. She was so on edge that she had chewed the nails off all the way down to the quick. "How was I supposed to know that?" she asked, trying her best not to cry.

Lael looked up from the thumbnail sketch she was working on. The bar of pastel stopped scratching on the rough surface of the Sabertooth paper.

"Oh, for God's sake, Rhonda. How dumb can you be?" Lael demanded. "If a married professor starts dating an unmarried undergraduate, you can pretty well figure the man's a jackass. And so's the girl for that matter."

Rhonda Weaver Norton's cheeks reddened with anger. The tears retreated. "Thanks, Mom," she said. "I always know I can count on you for sympathy."

"You can always count on me for a straight answer," Lael corrected. "Now tell me, why exactly are you here?"

Rhonda looked around the spacious, well-lit studio her stepfather, Jean Paul Gastone, had built as a place for his lovely new wife to pursue her artistic endeavors. Rhonda interpreted that cluttered but isolated work space as an act of self-serving generosity on Jean Paul's part. Lael had always been messy. If nothing else, the physical separation of the studio from the main house would help keep most of that mess localized. That way the main -house-a breathtakingly canti-levered mountaintopmansion-could continue to look picture-perfect, as if the photographers from House Beautiful or Architectural Digest were due at any moment.

The place where Lael and Jean Paul lived now was a far cry from the way Rhonda and her mother had lived when Rhonda was a child. She and the free-spirited, starving artist Lael Weaver had lived a nomadic existence that took them from place to place, from drafty furnished rooms to countless roach-infested apartments. This million-dollar-plus architectural wonder was perched on a steep hillside overlooking one of Sedona, Arizona's, most photographed red-rocked cliffs. The fourteen-foot floor-to-ceiling windows offered a clear and unobstructed view.

All the furnishings in both the -house and studio had been tastefully chosen by someone with an eye for beauty. Rhonda didn't have to look at any of the labels to know that all the assembled pieces -were name brand, as -were the clothes on her mother's back. That was far different from the past as well. Rhonda had spent her school years living with the daily humiliation of wearing the secondhand clothing her mother had bought at thrift stores and rummage sales. She had endured the steady taunts from other children who somehow knew she ate the free lunches offered at school. And she recalled all too well how embarrassed she had been every time her mother sent her to the grocery store with a fistful of food stamps instead of money.

Lael's life had taken a definite turn for the better. In the last few years, her oddball pastels had finally started to sell. She had met Jean Paul Gastone at a gallery opening when he had stopped by to say how much he admired her work. Now they -were married-seemingly happily-and living a gracious and beautiful life together. Rhonda -couldn't help envying the idea of her mother living happily ever after. Too bad things hadn't worked out nearly that well for Lael's daughter.

In the course of a long, lingering silence, Lael returned to her sketch. With nothing more to say, Rhonda once more examined the room. She realized with a start that her mother's studio-that one room, not counting either the private bath or the con-ve-nient kitchenette that had been built off to one side-was larger than her entire studio apartment.

She had moved into that god-awful, low-life complex only two days earlier. Already she hated it. But she had come face-to-face with stark economic reality. Rhonda Norton was a newly separated, unemployed woman, with no recent work history and only marginally salable skills. Her university work was sixteen credits shy of a bachelor's degree with a major in American history, a curriculum that didn't have much going for it in the world of business. As a consequence, that tiny upstairs apartment facing directly into the afternoon sun was all she could afford. In fact, it was more than she could afford.

Confronted with the obvious dichotomy between her mother's newfound wealth and her own newfound poverty, Rhonda Norton felt doubly impoverished. And defeated. It would have been easy to give up, to make like Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Percé, and say to all the world, "I will fight no more forever."

"Well?" Lael prompted impatiently, dragging Rhonda back to the present and to the real issue at hand.

She dropped her eyes once more. "I'm afraid," she said softly.

"Afraid of what?"

Rhonda dreaded saying the words aloud, especially since she didn't think her mother had ever been afraid of anything in her -whole life. As far as Rhonda was concerned, Lael had always seemed as brave and daring as the brilliant greens, blues, and reds she was swiftly daubing onto the paper.

"Afraid of what?" Lael asked again.

"Of him," Rhonda answered. "Of Dean. He threatened me. He told me that if I went through with the divorce, he'd see me in hell before he'd pay me a single dime of alimony or give me a property settlement."

"Oh, hell," Lael said. "The man's just pissed because he got passed over for department head and then they shipped him off to that other campus, wherever that is."

"The ASU West campus is on Thunderbird, Mom," Rhonda returned quietly. "But he's not bluffing. He means it. He won't give me a dime."

Lael Weaver Gastone was incensed. "If it's the money, don't worry about it. He's bluffing. Jean Paul and I could always help out if it came to that, but it won't. You'll see. The courts will make him pay."

But Rhonda was no longer looking at her mother. She had dropped her gaze once more. "It's not just the money, Mom. I don't care about that." She took a deep breath. "I'm afraid he'll kill me, Mom." She paused and bit her lip. "He hits me sometimes," she added almost in a whisper.

"He what?" Lael asked. "I -can't hear you if you don't speak up."

"He hits me," Rhonda repeated raggedly. "Hard." A single tear leaked from her eye and slipped down her cheek. "And he told me the other day when I was packing that he'd kill me if I go through with it-with getting a divorce."

Slowly, without looking directly at her mother's face, Rhonda Weaver Norton unbuttoned the top three buttons of her cardigan sweater; then she slipped the soft knit material down over her shoulder. Under the sweater her bare shoulder and back were discolored by a mass of green-and-purple bruises. Lael gasped when she saw them.

Shoot Don't Shoot
. Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Shoot Don't Shoot 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yepper I think I am officially hooked on these books. Good story, good ending. Guess I will check out the next one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
They seem to get better and better. At first Joanna Brady wasn't much to me, I was only reading the series because of where it took place. I am no really starting to appreciate her and liking her as a character. I love her personality and attitude. This book, although not in Bisbee, takes place mostly in Peoria. The murder plot is pretty creeapy, especially when on of the APOA students is caught up in it. I appeciated the friendship with her and Butch Dixon, and I'm hoping that will turn into something else. Overall, this was a good book and it continued the series along just fine. Can't wait to read the next ones!
Anonymous 20 days ago
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was pretty good. Here we have a woman acting with sense. Her husband is a cop killed in the line of duty. So she runs for the office of county Sheriff and wins. She then goes off to a 6-week training course in Phoenix. She has to leave her kid, but will see her over Thanksgiving. Here she meets another woman cop and they become tentative friends. Through this new friend and a plea from a man¿s mother, Joanna gets involved in the murder of Sheila Grehalva. It¿s obvious that her husband killed her. Too obvious. And the same has been happening to a lot of women around the state and in other states. The women killed have all sworn out complaints against abusive husbands. So of course those men are looked at as suspects and no one looks very hard for anyone else who might have killed them. Enter Carol Strong, the investigating officer of the Grehalva case. Eventually, Joanna convinces her to look elsewhere for suspects and Carol admits to having assumed the case closed because the husband hit his wife once.Eventually, through the help of bartender Butch, they get onto a man who did some work as a process server. He¿s also left some physical evidence behind and soon they¿re on his trail. But of course, because Joanna¿s kid and Grehalva¿s kid is on the scene, they get used as pawns to help the killer get away. He almost does. Joanna shoots him in the leg as he tries to run away. Instead of giving up, he throws himself in front of a train and dies. The last thing he tells her is that there isn¿t all the time in the world to find the kids.Butch remembers that the police training compound has a bomb shelter. But he doesn¿t know exactly where it is. Eventually they find it and the girls. They also find the corpse of the killer¿s mother. His first victim. His last was Joanna¿s new friend and fellow student at the school.I liked how Butch and Joanna didn¿t fling themselves into bed the moment sparks flew. She was sensible and he was understanding. I also liked the fact that she wasn¿t portrayed as some vengeful wife, using her new job as a way to get back at criminals for the death of her husband.
gilroy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps I was expecting more from a book with "Novel of Suspense" on the cover, or perhaps I've read too much freakish suspense like Stephen King for this book to be suspenseful for me. It read like a standard mystery, with a reluctant heroine trying to find the answers to someone else's problem. Its well written, though the final villan is not at all expected. The twist at the end I didn't care for, since I didn't feel mislead, I felt blindsided. I'm willing to say, because this is only the third book in the series, that perhaps I need to read more before I condemn the line, but right now, I'm not that filled with suspense by this book.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Joanna is in her law enforcement training course in Phoenix when she becomes aware of a serial killer on the prowl and coming dangerously close to her.I didn't care for this book as much as the previous two. Joanna came across as a spoiled and ungracious brat at the holiday season. As far as the mystery, again, it isn't so much a mystery as a blank reveal at the end. I felt cheated out of a better thought out villain. However, where Jance shines is her characters, which were very interesting and make me want to keep reading. I must say, the hullabaloo in the hotel lobby was very distracting to me, a hotel worker. All I could think about were the poor hotel agents who would be blamed for everything and have to hand out discounts left and right even though it was in no way their fault. I can just hear the guest's complaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just love the Joanna Brady series of J.A. Jance. I have started from the beginning and am working my way up to the current series. I live in Arizona, so it's interesting to hear her write about cities that I am familiar with. Joanna Brady is a woman sheriff that is independent and tough.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another good story in the Joanna Brady series by J.A. Jance. I thoroughly enjoyed the premise and am really learn to like the characters. I plan on reading the whole series.
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lovetoread58 More than 1 year ago
I am going to work my way through all her Joanna Brady series. Also if you have never read the JP Beaumont series which take place in Seattle start now with #1. This is my favorite character of all. Also recommended is all the Deborah Crombie series.
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