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Day of the Dead    by J. A. Jance order for
Day of the Dead
by J. A. Jance
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I never tire of reading J. A. Jance's books, which are always winners. For as many as she has written, she never gives up quality for quantity. Day of the Dead is hard to put down once started.

Brandon Walker, former sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, is drawn into a police case, despite his animosity toward the present sheriff. Thirty years before, a young girl's body was found dismembered and stuffed into a Coleman cooler. When a similar death occurs today, Walker's detecting skills come into play and lead him to an unbelievable conclusion. His wife Diana Ladd, a successful writer of true-crime books, is glad he has found something to occupy his time. She just didn't imagine this would occupy so much of his time. Or bring him so close to danger - and possibly death.

The story line of Day of the Dead is easy to follow and fast-paced. Though the reader knows who the killer is, it's not clear that the sheriff will find out. But the most intriguing part of the book for me was the history of the 'Tohono O'odham', the Desert People, and the traditions that carry on to this day. Walker and Ladd's adopted daughter Lani is destined to become a medicine woman as well as a medical doctor. Which her parents accept without demur. I have been to Arizona and so could adjust to the desert landscape so wonderfully described. The stark beauty is almost more than one can handle. To imagine other than natural death occuring there is hard.

The players' characters are so finely drawn you can easily love the ones you are meant to and be ready to boo and hiss at the villains. I felt myself take umbrage at some of the broken treaties and downright negligence of the well-being of Native Americans by our government through the years. I knew these things had happened, but to read in detail about how they affected individuals is heartbreaking, and shameful. But that is government and politicians. And, sadly, it hasn't changed over the years.

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