Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont is working a series of murders in which six young women have been wrapped in tarps, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. Their charred remains have been scattered around various dump sites, creating a grisly pattern of death across western Washington.
At the same time, thousands of miles away in the Arizona desert, Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady is looking into a homicide in which the elderly caretaker of an ATV park was run over and left to die. All the man has left behind is his dog, who is the improbable witness to some kind of turf warfare—or possibly something more sinister.
Then a breakthrough in Beaumont's case leads him directly to the Southwest and into Brady's jurisdiction. When the two met on a joint investigation years earlier, sparks flew. Under different circumstances, both of them admit, even more could have happened.
But here, as the threads of their two seemingly separate cases wind together, Beaumont and Brady must put aside echoes of their shared past as they are once again drawn into an orbit of deception. Except this time it's not just their own lives that are in danger but those of the people closest to them as well.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
J. A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series, and four interrelated thrillers about the Walker family. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.From The Washington Post:
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by by Anna Mundow J.A. Jance is the author of 38 immensely popular crime novels: the Detective J.P. Beaumont series, set in the Pacific Northwest, and the Sheriff Joanna Brady series, set in Arizona. Beaumont and Brady also collaborated on a case in "Partner in Crime," a novel that included a passionate embrace. On that occasion, the handsome detective and the alluring sheriff resisted temptation, but the two now meet again in "Fire and Ice," a tale of murder, prostitution and drug-running that traverses the desert of the Southwest and the forests of Washington state. For readers who have followed Jance's characters on their separate journeys -- Beaumont's from alcoholism to sobriety and Brady's into marriage and motherhood -- the much-heralded reunion is surely a treat. The fact that the encounter materializes toward the end of the novel may dampen the excitement, but this is Jance's style. She draws us into a world of straight talkers and straight shooters, staging numerous diversions -- criminal and domestic -- before she delivers the climax. Jance also knows how to grab our attention. "Take her out in the woods and get rid of her," an underling is instructed in this novel's shocking first chapter, which is set on a logging road in the Cascades. "Throw her out, pull her teeth, douse her with gasoline, and light a match." Jance describes the horror with uncharacteristic bluntness. "Tugging at the tarp, he dragged her away from the road and into the shelter of a second-growth tree. Then he went back for the tire iron. Several blows to the head from that rendered the woman senseless. . . . He went back to the car and retrieved the gas can, poured the liquid over the now still tarp, and lit the match. . . . It took more than one before the fumes finally ignited." The killer is an undocumented Mexican whose family will die if he disobeys his crime boss. The victim, a Latina, is the sixth to be killed in this brutal way. But this woman turns out to be different: She's connected not only to a drug cartel that Beaumont is investigating but also to Sheriff Brady's department. For much of the novel, however, the deceased is simply the deceased, although the sight of her ruined skeleton does trigger an emotion of sorts in Beaumont. Contemplating the disassembled bones on the autopsy table, he is reminded of his youthful attempt to put the parts of a garage-sale motorcycle back together. "Something similar seemed to be going on here," he remarks. It is an oddly repulsive observation. Yet it is typical of the reformed yet enduringly solipsistic Beaumont, who is now blissfully married to Mel, an insufferably perky fellow cop. Thanks to an inheritance from a former girlfriend, Beaumont and Mel now speed around in his Mercedes or her Cayman and fly only in a chartered private jet. We meet them at Disneyland, where Mel has organized some overdue family bonding for Beaumont ("The woman is a genius," he brags). This being a venerable crime series, the reader too must bond with the past as the novel shuttles between Beaumont's platinum-card world and Joanna Brady's distinctly Costco existence. Jance has a great deal of background to fill in, and she does so economically if a little clumsily, adding detail but little depth to her characters, perhaps because she includes a second murder to investigate. Might the two killings be related? Is one of Brady's most trusted officers involved? Jance draws the novel's threads together belatedly and rather hurriedly. This would not matter so much if Beaumont and Brady generated their own dramatic tension. But instead of developing over time, they have stagnated; Brady is forever the kind-hearted yet tough-minded sheriff and Beaumont the world-weary cop. "Fire and Ice" also suffers from some factual errors (not least, giving Bob Dylan credit for a Joni Mitchell song); cliched language (characters "don" clothing, eat "mouthwatering" food, aspire to be "on the same page"); and Realtor-rapturous descriptions of, among other things, "gorgeous tawny granite" countertops. As the pace finally accelerates and Beaumont confronts danger for the umpteenth time, he pauses to ask, "What if that one trip to Disneyland is all I'll ever have?" Sadly, he is not trying to be funny.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
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