“Dance of the Bones’’ by best-selling author J. A. Jance (William Morrow, $26.99) is likely to please most of the author’s loyal fans, causing them to try out some of her earlier books.
It’s a solid police procedural crime novel that utilizes main characters from two of her popular mystery series.
Retired Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont has appeared in over 20 novels and retired Arizona Sheriff Brandon Walker has been a major part of four earlier Walker Family novels.
This time they join forces in solving an unusual case involving a man who’s been sentenced to life for a murder he claims he didn’t commit.
After a brief prologue, where the real killer is revealed, Jance adds an interesting, relevant touch. Each chapter begins with a short italicized section that offers insights from the story-telling viewpoint of the Tohono O’Odham (Desert People) of Arizona.
“Big Bad John” Lassiter was arrested for the 1970 murder of Amos Warren, a grizzled treasure-hunter; he was arrested by Walker, but has proclaimed his innocence ever since.
Now, in ill health, Lassiter refuses a plea deal that would set him free. The case draws the attention of “The Last Chance”, an organization of criminalists, legal experts and others who investigate flawed cases.
As Walker digs for the truth, he unearths facts that lead to an unsolved murder in Seattle. He joins forces with Beaumont, who discovers that there may be a clever killer responsible for both murders.
A sub-plot takes on major importance as an aging sociopath decides to cover her tracks permanently, carefully arranging for the deaths of others.
Another sub-plot centers around Walker’s adopted daughter Dr. Lani Walker-Pardee and Gabe, a troubled teenager who’s the son of a tribal elder.
Soon the action intensifies and the case becomes significantly more complicated, striking close to home for Walker and assorted family members.
Jance masterfully ties together assorted plot threads, creating a believable, deadly conclusion.
While it’s probably best to read others in the separate series to fully appreciate the growth of the characters, it’s not essential.
Readers who enjoy this prolific author’s entertaining latest novel may also like Jance’s two other crime novel series that showcase Joanna Brady, (Sheriff of Cochise County) and Ali Reynolds.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.
Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan
This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on September 20, 2015.