The latest mystery from New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance (Edge Of Evil, Long Time Gone, Rattlesnake Crossing) is a truly intriguing novel of suspense. Jance brings back her long-running series character Cochise County sheriff Joanna Brady, who happens to be very pregnant; she’s literally due any day. The book opens up in 1978 then quickly flashes forward to present day.
Dead Wrong is essentially the intermingling of two cases: the murder of an ex-con whose corpse is found with all its fingers severed, and the other concerning her animal control officer, Jeannine Phillips, who is found beaten after following up on a lead having to do with dogfighting within the county.
As if this weren’t compelling enough for the pregnant sheriff to deal with, she and her husband have family issues as well. The in-laws show up, and we all know what that can be like; especially obnoxious ones. This adds another dimension to the story: chaos at home and at work. Being short-staffed, the whole department is stretched thin when the fingerless body is found without any identification. But, as luck would have it, a talkative priest stops by to chat with Joanna about a missing convict - her lucky day. The priest positively identifies the man as Bradley Evans, opening the door to the multitude of twists in the mystery. Turns out Sheriff Brady’s father was the arresting officer in ‘78, which leads to some interesting backstory on Joanna as she reads her fathers journals.
This storyline stands front and center for the first four discs in this audio production. But somewhere in the middle the focus (and added stress affecting Brady) shifts to Jeannine - her finding mauled dogs, and the subsequent attack on her. Throw this all into a blender and you have one fantastic police-procedural mystery that really gives you that small town feel. The audio performance from Debra Monk (who’s done several of Jance’s audio books) is absolutely superb. Her knack for not only distinguishing characters but also giving them authentic accents makes for a smooth, easy-to-follow listening experience. Overall, Dead Wrong is a great mystery that tackles some social issues (immigration for one) as it entertains in a way that all can relate to, big city or small town.