Book Review: “Tombstone Courage” by J A Jance
Sheriff Joanna Brady is Every Woman
Reviewed by G G Collins (Copyright 2015)
* * * * * When last we saw Joanna Brady in series premier, Desert Heat, her husband was murdered while running for sheriff of Cochise County, and she was under suspicion for drug trafficking.
After she was instrumental in solving the case, which included corruption in the sheriff’s office, her friends urged her to run for the office once held by her father.
Joanna Brady’s first day on the job as sheriff is a stressful one. Two bodies have been discovered in the county, her chief deputy openly campaigned for one of her opponents and thinks the sheriff’s office is no place for a woman, and the ditzy office receptionist makes no effort to hide her hostility. Her personal life is complicated by young daughter, Jenny, when she has ambivalent feelings about mom’s new job. What if she gets killed too?
Joanna struggles to reassure her child, gain respect at the office, all the while sorting hideous clues involving one of the dead men, his estranged daughter and a lawsuit.
Holly Patterson, once a rising star in Hollywood and now a has-been, has come home with therapist and lawyer in tow. As an alleged victim of repressed childhood sexual abuse she is suing her father for his entire ranch. If she wins, it would displace her sister Ivy who has worked the ranch side by side with her father for forty years.
Before Holly’s father, Harold Patterson, has a chance to set things right he is killed leaving more questions than answers. Did Burton Kimball, Patterson’s attorney and nephew commit the crime in a drunken stupor after a blowup with his uncle? Ivy Patterson hasn’t spoken with her father for sometime because she has come to believe her sister’s accusations. Could she have murdered her father? She did, after all, delay overnight before calling authorities after finding her father’s body. No one knows much about Russian immigrant, Yuri, who has suddenly become engaged to Ivy. Was he looking at a quick ticket to citizenship?
Tombstone Courage refers to one of the ten tragic errors made by law enforcement officers–failure to call for backup. Sheriff Brady for all her pluck has yet to learn this valuable lesson probably because life has taught her to handle things on her own.
Joanna Brady, first woman sheriff in Cochise County, is a great character. She deals head-on with resentment, sexism, and political shenanigans with aplomb and when warranted, force. Yet she is vulnerable to her child and everyday irritations such as runs in her hose. She shows cagey inventiveness as she assembles a new life for herself and her child.
This book isn’t really about law enforcement–the mystery almost gets in the way–but the exploration of the American woman on the move, meeting daily challenges, and rising to the occasion.
Every woman in America is not a sheriff, but Joanna Brady is every woman.
Tombstone Courage by J A Jance (Joanna Brady Mysteries Book 2)
William Morrow & Company ♦ 304 pp ♦ June 1994 ♦ Now available in Kindle format
Posted on February 23, 2015, in Books, Editorial, Reviews and tagged book review, G G Collins, J A Jance, Mystery, Police Procedural, Reluctant Medium at Large, Sheriff Joanna Brady, Tombstone Courage, William Morrow & Company, women sleuths. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.