I’ve been reading J.A. Jance for many years and really enjoy her books. She has three different series going and a set of four books that relate stories of the Walker family. I highly recommend all these books because she consistently has well-developed characters, interesting and entertaining plots, and a sense of justice well served in every book.
Her name is Judith Ann Jance, but an editor told her early on it would be better not to reveal her gender in her writing. We’ve come a long way, ladies!
I went through a bout of depression many years ago that literally changed my life. I’ve always been an avid reader. I had numerous places my mother couldn’t find me when I was growing up so she couldn’t give me household chores when I really wanted to read. I used to take a part of my lunch money every week to buy books. The first time I read the biography of Nellie Bly I knew I wanted to write.
I share this because I was so confused that the depression caused me to be unable to read. Where I normally read a Mary Higgins Clark book in less than a week, it now took me a month, sometimes two, to get through one. It was an awful, dark time and I thank God for the medications and therapy that helped me come back to who I am.
When I finally started reading again, I was like a hungry person set free at a buffet. I consumed four or five books a week. I visited the used book stores in my area and traded and bought books every week. During this time I discovered J.A. Jance. After reading one of her J.P. Beaumont books, I began searching everywhere for the first book in this series so I could read it from the beginning. I was not disappointed.
J.P. Beaumont is an old friend now. He’s a former Seattle Police Department homicide detective who has moved up through the years and now does his police work at the state level. As a reader I shared with him his grief over his failed marriage and his struggle to maintain a relationship with his children, and have followed to the point where he is now as a successful recovering alcoholic and still a top-notch crime solver.
I loved Joanna Brady from the first book of this series. When her husband is killed while seeking the office of sheriff, Joanna Brady takes his place and becomes the sheriff of Cochise County. What I absolutely love about Joanna is that she is just like me and many other women. She works to balance work life and home life in an acceptable manner, and it ain’t easy. In the midst of these books, Joanna found love, married, had a baby, and through it all she managed to get through every tough day. She’s a remarkable woman and I never miss reading the next part of her story.
The Walker family is revealed in four books that cover many years and many mysterious and horrible incidents that brought this blended family together. Hour of the Hunter is the story of Diane Ladd, a teacher on the Tohono O’Odham reservation. She testified against a psychopath named Andrew Carlisle who killed a young Indian girl. When he is set free, he stalks Diane and the story J.A. Jance wrote for this book literally compels you to keep turning pages.
These four books are gripping on their own but should be read in order so you get to know the characters in depth and feel the mysterious aura of the land that surrounds them.
If you’re like me and enjoy long-term relationships with characters, you’ll love the books of J.A. Jance. One of my favorite stories about her is one she relates about a college teacher who told her women should be nurses or teachers and wouldn’t allow her in the creative writing program. She named the psychopath in her first book after him. You gotta love that!
J.A. Jance is very aware of and very loyal to her readers. She answers emails personally and loves talking with readers at book signings. I know—I was shocked to receive a response to a note I wrote when I lived in Leesburg, Florida, and she asked me if I knew a friend of hers who lived there!
The blogs she writes for her website are entertaining and relate not only to her writing but to her family and her personal history. She comes across as a warm, inviting person who would share a cup of coffee with you while discussing your favorite books.
I hope you never find yourself in the state of depression that I did, but if you’re ever feeling blue and wish you had something new and exciting to read, look up J.A. Jance. You won’t be disappointed.
Leigh Neely is a former newspaper and magazine editor. She currently does freelance work and recently had a short story published in the anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices. She also writes regularly for the blog WomenofMystery.net. Her novel, Second Nature by Neely Powell (written with collaborator Jan Powell), is scheduled for release in Spring 2013.