Joanna Brady is the sheriff outside the small Arizona town of Bisbee. Judgment Call by J A Jance opens with the murder of the high school principal, Debra Highsmith. After some preliminary investigation, it is clear the Debra is not who she claims to be. From there suspects accumulate from angry students, to jilted lovers, to Russian spies. In classic mystery style, the killer is finally identified as another person with an assumed identity.
There is also a second mystery involving the death of Joanna's father, and former sheriff, around twenty years ago. This mystery also involves another assumed identity.
As the body counts grows both in the present and the past, Joanna deftly unravels the mysteries while dealing with a number of difficult women. This is a book of many and varied women, from strong to weak and good to evil.
In what might be a modern novel of the 21st century, there was one surprise: a high school girl presented as totally lacking agency and sense, the stereotypical victim of hormones and infatuation available to be used by an older boy with interest in little more that easy sex. A girl who cannot be reasoned with, who requires rescue, without any consultation or notice, only a smug comment that she will understand when she get older.
A fabulous mystery - a fast and fascinating read.
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