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Book Review - "Remains of Innocence" by J.A. Jance

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the  right side bar.

9780062134721_p0_v3_s260x420Remains Of Innocence has J. A. Jance once again writing a great storyline.  Before starting this book readers might want to download the novella, The Old Blue Line, that offers a backstory on Joanna Brady’s husband Butch Dixon.  Both involve murder mysteries that are very suspenseful.

The Old Blue Line has Butch being a person of interest when his ex-wife is found murdered.  It also explains how the relationship between Joanna and Butch began.  What makes the story even more interesting is Jance’s incorporation of technology into the plot.  She shows the positives, helping the police find a killer, and the negatives, showing how computers are basically open books for anyone who cares to find out information about someone.  This novella is also a shout out to seniors since many of the characters are retirees or at least have their AARP card.

Jance stated to blackfive.net, “I have written three now.  This one is the second to be published.  Someone asked me if I could write about knocking off someone’s ex, so I did it.  Writing Novellas are like going on vacation.  You don’t have to worry about bringing in a lot of information.  It’s writing 15,000 words as opposed to writing 100,000 words.  I gave a shout out to seniors because this country cannot afford to neglect the brainpower of older people.  I would say and actually did say there is age discrimination in this country.  A lot of seniors read my books.  Although my novels appeal to all age demographics I think the seniors like my stories because they don’t have a lot of violence, bad language, sex, and definitely not unprotected sex.”

Remains Of Innocence also continues with the senior character theme, showing the importance that age group contributes to society.  The plot has two stories going at once, which in many ways are only slightly connected. Arizona Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady is working on two perplexing cases. The first case has a mentally disabled man found dead at the bottom of a glory hole along with a puppy and kitten that were brutally mutilated. Brady struggles to come to terms with an apparent serial killer in the small town of Bisbee, Arizona since it appears someone is going on a killing spree of animals and humans.

The other case involves the murder of the county’s medical examiner.  Brady ties that into a case that takes place clear across the US.  An old woman, a hoarder, has died in Great Barrington Massachusetts.  After her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines she is threatened and her friends are killed.  Trying to escape her pursuers she travels to Bisbee, Arizona with the help of an abused woman’s underground railroad.  Although each case takes a turn of its own, these two sub-plots are compelling and gripping throughout the book.

Jance commented to blackfive.net, “In real life police don’t follow one case to the very end without anything else impinging.  I thought that having Brady handle more than one case at a time is more realistic and more fun for me to write.  The idea that these two cases had to cross over would be more coincidence than I could stand to write.  I have received feedback from many in law enforcement, such as a retired woman police chief who came up to me and told me ‘thank you for how you portray women in law enforcement.’ That makes me feel good.”

She also noted, “I was speaking at a luncheon and found out the most dangerous times for women of domestic violence are when they decide to leave the abuser.  They cannot go on public transportation because there will be a paper trail and could be found.  I thought that creating the Underground Railroad was an inspirational way to get my character out of town without anyone being able to follow her.  I based it on the real Underground Railroad of the 1850s, which is why I called it ‘Underground Railroad 2.0.’”

As in all Jance books besides a riveting plot she includes issues that the reader can learn about. This book discusses the training of a deaf dog that learns to recognize hand signals and the dangers abused women must endure.  In all Brady books there is always a slight reference to how professional women must operate in a predominately man’s field. 

Remains of Innocence has a realistic plot, wonderful relatable characters, and believable scenes.  It is a first rate murder mystery that also delves into the family life of its characters.