QUEEN OF THE NIGHT
BY J. A. JANCE
The New York Times bestselling author brings back the Walker family in a multilayered thriller in which murders past and present connect the lives of three families
Every summer, in an event that is commemorated throughout the Tohono O'odham Nation, the Queen of the Night flower blooms in the Arizona desert. But one couple's intended celebration is shattered by gunfire, the sole witness to the bloodshed a little girl who has lost the only family she's ever known.
To her rescue come Dr. Lani Walker, who sees the trauma of her own childhood reflected in her young patient, and Dan Pardee, an Iraq war veteran and member of an unorthodox border patrol unit called the Shadow Wolves. Joined by Pima County homicide investigator Brian Fellows, they must keep the child safe while tracking down a ruthless killer.
In a second case, retired homicide detective Brandon Walker is investigating the long unsolved murder of an Arizona State University coed. Now, after nearly half a century of silence, the one person who can shed light on that terrible incident is willing to talk. Meanwhile, Walker's wife, Diana Ladd, is reliving memories of a man whose death continues to haunt her.
As these crimes threaten to tear apart three separate families, the stories and traditions of the Tohono O'odham people remain just beneath the surface of the desert, providing illumination to events of both self-sacrifice and unspeakable evil.
A voracious reader, J. A. Jance knew she wanted to be a writer from the moment she read her first Wizard of Oz book in second grade. Always drawn to mysteries, from Nancy Drew right through John D. McDonald's Travis Magee series, it was only natural that when she tried her hand at writing her first book, it would be a mystery as well.
J. A. Jance went on to become the New York Times bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family, and Edge of Evil. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.MY REVIEW:
QUEEN OF THE NIGHT by J.A. Jance is the fourth book in the Walker Family series and the author does wonderful character analysis especially in the first part of the book. Readers learn what happened to the characters in the past and present as well as how they are connected with each other. Readers will also see how certain characters' lives parallel each other. The story is set in Arizona where there are a group of Native Americans who are ex-military and work with the border patrol to keep watch along the part of Mexico and the United States that borders their reservation.
This group is known as Shadow Wolf and Dan Pardee and his dog, Bozo, are part of this diligent group. For the most part, the only action Dan has seen involves drug smuggling and illegal immigration even though they are supposedly part of the anti-terrorism group. However, that all changes when Dan comes across a mass execution of four people. First, he assumes it is a drug deal in which something went terribly wrong, but then certain things he notices just don’t make sense. Trying to figure out what caused this horrible crime, Dan works with murder investigator Brian Fellows. Brandon Walker, a retired police officer, currently working on a cold case of an Arizona student, is also brought in when they realize their case may be connected to his. Little did Walker know that he is somehow personally tied to this cold case.
It seems that Diana Ladd Walker, Brandon’s wife, continues to experience some kind of contact from the dead stemming from her frightening past. This involves Andrew Carlisle who was set up to rape her by her late husband, Garrison Ladd, as well as the man who kidnapped Lani, her adopted daughter. The kidnapper, Mitch Johnson, is also making these “visits” to Diana. At the same time, little four-year-old Angelina Estalante becomes known as a “Ghost Girl” when she survives a brutal massacre at a time when her family was instead supposed to be celebrating the yearly tradition of blooming of the Queen of the Night flower. Now an orphan, Angelina knows what it’s like to be an outsider and this is something that Dr. Lani Walker (all grown up) understands as well. Tragedies like this can label people and effect how others react with them, and so Dr. Walker identifies with how Angelina feels as does Dan Pardee who first found her and feels responsible for her. Being half-Apache, Pardee also knows what it is like to be an outsider especially as he works in the area of the Desert People, the Tohono O’odham.
With all these detailed characters to keep straight and the book being told from different points of view, readers must follow very carefully. Jance blends past and present as she has the Walkers and key characters work meticulously in this compelling and suspenseful mystery to finally connect the multiple storylines. This is my first J. A. Jance book and I enjoyed it a great deal. I will say you must be patient and attentive as you get to know the characters which is like a story unto itself. Then when the action really begins to move almost halfway through the book, you have all you need to know in order to enjoy the “can’t put down” second half of QUEEN OF THE NIGHT by J. A. Jance.
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