J.A. Jance     

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Series: A Brady Novel of Suspense
Book: 20

Arizona sheriff Joanna Brady returns in this outstanding new mystery set in the beautiful desert country of the Southwest.

With a baby on the way, sudden deaths in the family from which to recover, a re-election campaign looming, and a daughter heading off for college, Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady has her hands full when a puzzling new case hits her department, demanding every resource she has at her disposal.

Two women have fallen to their deaths from a small nearby peak, referred to by Bisbee locals as Geronimo. What’s the connection between these two women? Is this a case of murder/suicide or is it a double homicide? And if someone else is responsible, is it possible that the perpetrator may, even now, be on the hunt for another victim?

Joanna Brady loves her job, but it's not an easy one. She is sheriff of Conchise County, Arizona and must balance her often dangerous job with the needs of her growing family. Joanna already has a daughter in college and a son in kindergarten, and now has a baby girl on the way. She is also dealing with a devastating personal loss, but her job isn’t on that can be put on hold. Joanna must put aside her grief to solve a case. It’s unclear if two women have died as a result of a murder/suicide or if both were murdered by an unknown person. Soon, Joanna is on the trail of a killer. The case takes an unexpected twist and both Joanna and her unborn baby are in grave danger.

J.A. Jance has a talent at creating interesting stories featuring likeable, relatable characters. Joanna's job is different than most people’s, but the everyday situations she faces in her life and her challenges in balancing career and family are something to which almost anyone can relate. Joanna sometimes frustrates me because she overextends herself out of fear people will think she's not up to the job of sheriff. However, I admire her dedication and how hard she works for the people of Conchise County. She uses her intelligence to solve difficult cases, and she's not afraid to face dangerous situations to get the job done.

Parts of Downfall read like a police procedural, mixed with details of Joanna's family life, which is typical of other books in this series. However, the last part of the book is so filled with tension and excitement, it becomes a nail-biting suspense novel as Joanna comes face-to-face with a murderer. I have read most of the books in this series, and the author has outdone herself this time. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next and was truly fearful for Joanna and her baby as she fought for justice for the victims.

I have read most of the books in the Joanna Brady series and this is one of my favorites. It's well-written and suspenseful, but true to the main characters of Joanna and her devoted husband Butch. Downfall is sure to please longtime fans of the series, as well as new readers.

~ Christine