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Partner In Crime    by J. A. Jance order for
Partner In Crime
by J. A. Jance
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

J. A. Jance's books are receiving more and more attention with each new release (this latest mystery landed on the New York Times bestseller list shortly after its publication). Their popularity is richly deserved since Jance's books are always reliably enjoyable.

In Partner in Crime, Jance for the first time brings together the detectives from her two acclaimed series - police detective J. P. Beaumont from Seattle and southern Arizona sheriff Joanna Brady. Fans of the Joanna Brady series will be eager to learn what has happened in Joanna's life since publication of Paradise Lost. Joanna is in her early 30's and was drawn into the job of sheriff after her husband was gunned down in the line of duty. Over the nine previous books we have seen her rise to the challenges of law enforcement in what is still a somewhat wild area of the country and in a mostly male-dominated profession. Her personal life has also evolved, and now she is remarried and living with her teenager daughter Jenny and new husband Butch on a ranch outside Bisbee.

In contrast, J. P. Beaumont is middle-aged, formerly a Seattle police officer and now working for the Washington State special homicide investigation team. Their paths cross when a new Bisbee resident Rochelle Baxter is found murdered, and it turns out she has been in a witness protection program due to her involvement in a big legal case in Washington. Beaumont is sent to Bisbee to find out what happened and determine if Baxter's death jeopardizes the ongoing criminal case. Predictably the somewhat chauvinistic Beaumont and prickly Joanna, ever-ready to see a threat to her position, clash at first. Joanna is resentful that an outsider is trying to usurp her authority, and Beaumont must carry out his detection through unofficial channels. However, they are soon working as a team which shortly must solve a second murder.

Partner in Crime is not the author's best novel. The mystery resolution seems a bit forced and the insertion of Beaumont's sad personal connection with Bisbee unnecessary. That said, this is still an extremely well-written book that fans will not be able to put down easily. Jance's books are always great reads and this one is well-worth the time.

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