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Hand of Evil    by J. A. Jance order for
Hand of Evil
by J. A. Jance
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

After a failing marriage (ironically terminated when her husband died), and after an abruptly terminated career in TV journalism (now over because she is forty-something and considered over-the-hill in a youth-and-glamour oriented business), Ali Reynolds is back home. She has returned to tranquil and beautiful Sedona, Arizona, where her parents own and operate a small restaurant, and where her son Christopher is a first-year teacher at the local high school. Peace-and-quiet in idyllic Sedona, however, are about to come to an abrupt end.

First of all, seventy-year old Arabella Ashcroft has asked for Ali's help, and Ali can hardly refuse the woman because Ali owes so much to the Ashcroft family. Arabella claims to have been threatened by her long-lost nephew, and she says that vile family secrets must be finally revealed. Ali, however, is not really sure what kind of help she can give the elderly eccentric.

Next, Ali's good friend Dave Holman (a homicide detective with the Yavapai County Sheriff's Department) asks for Ali's help when Dave's thirteen-year old daughter Crystal runs away from her mother's and step-father's home in Las Vegas. What Crystal encounters during her runaway adventure, though, should never happen to a thirteen-year old, and Ali now finds herself in the role of reluctant but uncompromising baby-sitter for a reckless and troublesome child who may have witnessed something horrible.

Then, further complicating her rapidly out-of-control life, one of Ali's father's good friends (Kip Hogan, a recovering alcoholic who seemed to have been successful with his one-day-at-a-time sobriety program) suddenly disappears with Ali's father's truck. Kip, without so much as saying goodbye, has apparently abandoned the truck miles away on the highway, and now he has simply vanished.

And - quicker than you can say madness, mayhem, and murder, with some very dark mysteries and shockingly sordid behaviors thrown in for good measure - Ali finds herself head-over-heels involved in some very challenging and deadly problems.

Gripping, surprising, and fast-paced, Hand of Evil is an absolute hands-down winner! You've got to hand it to prolific author J. A. Jance. The top-notch Hand of Evil is her 3rd Ali Reynolds thriller (and her 36th novel, including the Joanna Brady mysteries, the J. P. Beaumont mysteries, and the Walker Family thrillers), and it may be one of her best.

The bottom line is this: Jance's latest offering proves that she is at the top of her form. Don't miss it!

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