Imagine you are the sheriff of a large county in southern Arizona that is routinely understaffed and over-extended. Now imagine that you are also almost nine months pregnant. That is exactly Joanna Brady's life at he beginning of Dead Wrong. When she and her team of detectives gets a call to a murder scene in the desert, she is surprised to find a man brutally beaten to death, missing is fingers. The victim is an ex-con, who was paroled recently after serving over 20 years for allegedly killing his wife in a drunken black-out. Convicted, despite the fact that her body was never found. In addition, one of her animal control officers is beaten and left for dead while investigating a couple of local thugs for running a dog fighting ring. With her manpower shortage, Joanna has no choice but to keep working-but this turns out to be a relief, when her overbearing mother-in-law shows up unexpectedly to wait out the birth of her grandchild. Joanna and her deputies will soon be facing the consequences of a decades old secret, one that puts Joanna and her unborn son at risk. But being a sheriff is part of her now, and finding a way to balance her career and her family is a challenge.
It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did it was hard to put it down. The Joanna Brady series is one I have dipped in and out of over the years. I haven't read all of them, but when I do pick one up I am never disappointed with the story. Her character combines the traits of all great female crime fighters-inner strength plus common sense plus compassion and a deep sense of justice. Not to mention she's kind of bad-ass when it comes to taking down the bad guys. The plot is fairly intricate but pretty believable which enough wiggle room in how it could play out to keep a person guessing until the end. I figured out the broad strokes of the secret fairly early, but I still wasn't sure about the details prior to the big reveal. As popcorn books go, I'd say Jance's books are pretty much a safe bet.