Although crimes are committed and investigations are conducted in Queen of the Night by J.A. Jance, the book is primarily about its characters -- what happened and is happening to them, the ways they are connected or become connected, how events in one charcter's life parallel those in another's.
The story takes place in Arizona, where Brian Fellows, happy in his roles as father, husband, and cop, follows the trail of a killer while his idol Brandon Walker pursues a new lead in a cold case at the request of a dying friend. Brandon's wife, Diana, seeing ghosts and worrying over her deteriorating health, anticipates her own approaching death while at the beginning her life, Angelina Estalante survives a cold-blooded slaughter only to be labeled a Ghost Girl by relatives who refuse to care for the four-year-old. Dr. Lani Walker, one of the Desert People and Brandon and Diana's adopted daughter, knows what it is like to be rejected by family, but her reluctance to make personal commitments influences her empathy for Angelina. Half-Apache border patrolman Dan Pardee, who rescues Angelina and was orphaned at a young age, knows what it is like to be an outsider, particularly in the land of the Tohono O'odham, the Desert People and cannot cast off his feeling of responsibility for the child.
The murders in the book take second place to the lives of these and other characters. The cold case subplot, in fact, is anti-climactic and not terribly engaging. What is engaging are the sections of the book that focus on the legends and traditions of the Tohono O'odam (Desert People), including that of the Queen of the Night, a cereus that blooms only one night a year.
Although Jance's technique of switching focus among characters can be disconcerting, even at times confusing, their stories are interesting enough to make it worth the effort to keep up with and untangle all of the threads. In the end, it is possible to understand that one of Jance's themes is probably how interconnected we all are. And, if the reader tires of the human element, there is always Bozo, a scene-stealing dog.