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Skeleton Canyon (Joanna Brady #5) [Mass Market Paperback]

J.A. Jance
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
IT WAS five o'clock on a Friday afternoon in June when Bree came into the kitchen. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Nov. 6 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Joanna Brady is the no-nonsense sheriff of a border town in Arizona, and she is thoroughly delightful in this story of murder in the treacherous canyons near the Mexican border.
The recently widowed mother of a 10-year-old girl, Joanna cannot help but be moved by the vicious murder of Brianna O'Brien, the beautiful and popular daughter of the town's most prominent family. The reader, too, is drawn into Brianna's all-too-brief life, and is there with her in Skeleton Canyon as she joyously awaits the arrival of her secret lover, Ignacio Ybarra, equally young, beautiful, and deeply in love. Brianna does not live to meet her lover--but who killed her? And why? It's up to Joanna to find out, and her job is much hampered by the arrogance of Brianna's father, whose distrust of the local law enforcement community is matched only by his racial hatred of Mexican-Americans.
Brianna and Ignacio were involved in a forbidden love affair, at least by the senior O'Brian's lights. Did he find out and have his own daughter killed? It seems highly unlikely, since Ignacio is very much alive--and a suspect. But why would he murder his beloved? What secrets in the O'Brian family coalesced to cause this inevitable tragedy?
While Joanna and her crew struggle to find the answers, the reader is treated to magnificent descriptions of the rugged Southwest, whose beauty masks murderous dangers such as killer flash floods. Equally interesting is the supporting cast: Joanna's friend Angie, a former hooker turned straight; two old and entertaining drunks in the bar where Angie works; Joanna's indomitable mother, who has a secret of her own; and more.
This is the 5th in the Joanna Brady series, and the first I have read. It stands alone beautifully, but got me so hooked that I must get my hands on the next book immediately! Highly recommended for mystery lovers looking for a good, strong, read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Different paced southwest mystery novel. May 14 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As a big fan of Tony Hillerman and Rudolfo Anaya, I was looking for another author to quench my southwest mystery thirst so I came about Skeleton Canyon as my first J.A. Jance novel.
Overall, the novel was entertaining. The author does a good enough job with the main character's backgrounds that you don't need to read the previous novels to understand their motivations, back stories, etc.
New characters are described just as well, and the reader can really identify with these 'genuine' people and not outlandish or stereotypical cutouts.
The story itself was fresh as was the mystery, though it did take a while to really delve into the mystery. For a novel that is just shy of 400 pages, it seems that the mystery aspect didn't really take off until midway through. However, the preceding setups and side stories are entertaining enough to push the novel forward anyway, keeping the reader's attention despite the lack of early mystery.
The only disappointment I had was with the lack of southwestern flair I am used to with a Hillerman novel. Though the novel takes place in Arizona, near the border of Mexico, there is little reference to local culture, native American theology, a typical south west descriptors.
The payoff/climax is good and there were a few twists at the end that I found debatable between a little 'convenient' and unique. The last chapter in itself had little to do with the novel, or even less of a future setup for a next book. Just seemed a bit odd in placement and context, but not bad.
Overall a good read, and look forward to other Joanna Brady novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best in this series Aug. 9 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Joanna Brady seems more decisive and more skilled in her job as sheriff of Cochise Country, Arizona, in this installment of the series. Her co-workers still doubt her ability at times, but her straightforward approach and honesty seem to be winning them over. In this book, a young teenager, Bree O'Brien, is brutally murdered on the way to a rendezvous with her secret lover, Ignacio Yberra. Her father, who harbors a prejudice against Mexicans, immediately blames Ignacio. Mr. O'Brien is a wealthy and influential man who counts the Governor as a close friend, so Joanna has to approach the case in a careful and discreet manner. She decides to treat it as any other case, and is criticized by a local reporter for not giving it a higher priority. At the same time she is drawn into a case where illegal Freon from Mexico is being smuggled into Arizona. Eventually these two cases prove to have some common threads. On the home front, Joanna's daughter Jenny goes off to camp for the first time, with the usual angst on the part of both mother and daughter. Joanna's mother Eleanor pulls a very surprising move which leaves her a bit bewildered. I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a look into the personal life of the heroine.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Another pleasant Brady book Oct. 27 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read the hard copy version. As usual, I started with the editor's synopsis inside the jacket, but in this one, the editor must not have read the book. No, the parents are not clamoring for Sheriff Brady to arrest the football star. The book is pleasant enough, and fast reading, but it is incredible that most of the subplots eventually tie together. That's too much of a coincidence for me. I found the climatic scene in the canyon a bit difficult to follow. It seems like Joanna Brady would have been killed had that really occurred.
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