Aug 29, 2014

Book Review: Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance


Remains of Innocence
Title: Remains of Innocence (Joanna Brady #16) by J. A. Jance
Published July 22, 2014; William Morrow
Genre: mystery, suspense

Lisa Matchett hasn't seen her penny pinching mother, a hoarder in the worst possible way, in about eleven years. When Selma is taken to hospice, Lisa cleans out the house and discovers her mother's secret.

But others begin to kill for this secret, and Lisa rides with truckers to hide her trail to her brother in Arizona.
Her story later links up with Sheriff Joanna Brady in Arizona who is solving the mystery of Junior, a man found dead at the bottom of a deep cave with the bodies of  pets around him. Was Junior a torturer of animals, and did someone push him to his death?

I loved the two different stories - a suspenseful trip with Lisa fleeing the bad guys, and the mystery of Junior and the dead and injured pets. The separate events come together well and in an unusual way. The plot of this novel is fantastic and as a mystery lover, I really enjoyed the action and the suspense, the detailed investigation techniques that Sheriff Brady and her team follow.... until, that is, I got to the very end.

The ending made me want to have an existential and theological discussion with the author Jance about evil and the nature of evil. The motive she gives for one of the murders was incomplete and that spoiled the book for me. Rating? Five stars for the suspense, two stars for the unsettling and, in my view, unresolved ending to one of the murders.

Synopsis:

Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that may be tied together. J. A. Jance’s tale of suspense brings to life Arizona’s Cochise County and the desert Southwest's beauty and mystery.
An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In cleaning out her house, her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers that her mother was hiding a secret.
Liza flees dangerous pursuers on a journey that will end in Cochise County, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own. A man she considers a family friend is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern near Bisbee.  Are the two disparate cases connected? It’s up to Joanna to find out. (publisher)

About the author: J. A. Jance is bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont mystery series, the Joanna Brady series, three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family, and Edge of Evil. Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.
Thanks to Partners in Crime Book Tours and the publisher for a review ARC of this book. Visit the tour schedule for other reviews.

Aug 28, 2014

Library Find: Above the East China Sea: A Novel by Sarah Bird

Above the East China Sea
My latest library find, an historical novel with some magical realism, is set in Japan in the present and right after the war.

Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird
Published May 27, 2014; Knopf
Genre: historical fiction
Book description: The story of two teenaged girls, an American and an Okinawan, whose lives connect across seventy years by the experience of profound loss, the strength of culture, and the power of family love. 
Luz James, a contemporary U.S. Air Force brat, lives with her sergeant mother at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Luz’s older sister has just been killed in the Afghan war. Unmoored by her sister’s death, the desolate girl contemplates taking her own life. In 1945, Tamiko Kokuba is plucked out of her elite girls’ high school and trained to work in the Imperial Army’s horrific cave hospitals. Tamiko finds herself squeezed between the occupying Japanese and the invading Americans. Like Luz, she aches to be reunited with her beloved sister. On an island where the spirits of the dead are part of life and your entire clan waits for you in the afterworld, suicide offers Tamiko the promise of peace. 
Luz tracks down the story of her own Okinawan grandmother and discovers that, if she  allows herself to connect completely, the ancestral spirits will save not only Tamiko but her as well.  
 Above the East China Sea shows how war shapes the lives of conquerors as well as the conquered and is a moving account of family, friendship, and love that transcends time. (publisher)
I'm interested in the magical realism incorporated into the historical fiction of two girls years apart, who somehow manage to connect.  The author, now a columnist and writer, grew up on air force bases around the world. 

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