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Moving Target by J.A. Jance

Moving Target” is the 9th in Jance’s Ali Reynolds Mysteries series and is one of the most satisfying in the Reynolds saga.  With this book the major characters have reached pretty complete development.  Ali knows what she wants in her life and is going for it.  Her butler-companion, Leland also becomes a focus of the “Moving Target” storyline and we learn a lot more about him and where he comes from.  Sister Anselm is back and helps to shape the story of a young fire victim and amputee who’s life is in danger because he won’t give up a computer program he wrote to hack into computers without being discovered.  As usual, Jance has two or three major themes all going at one time and several murders and kidnappings to keep the suspense constantly at a high level.

Ali and Leland go to England to visit Leland’s nephew and possibly reconcile with his sisters-in-law and other relatives.  Ali decides it is a good opportunity to shop for a wedding dress for her Christmastime wedding to B. Simpson, the computer security consultant.  At the same time, a young man who B.’s company helped to put into prison for breaking into his high school’s computer system is injured in a fire and a fall from a ladder while he is decorating a Christmas tree in the prison’s recreation center.  B. gets involved because the fire seems suspicious and B. believes the boy got a raw deal by being given the maximum sentence for doing something lots of kids try. Besides, the young man has created a computer program that B. would very much like to buy.  It seems that other computer companies would just like to steal the program from the young man.  As the story unfolds it appears that people who try to help the young man, Lance, are threatened or kidnapped, and the police are slow to respond to the threat.  B. makes sure Sister Anselm is put in place as a patient advocate to keep Lance safe while he is hospitalized with his injuries.

Meanwhile, back in England, Leland finds out that his father was murdered 30 years before and apparently was willing to accept the fact that Leland is gay.  For all those years Leland had believed that his father disowned him because of his sexual orientation.  Ali helps to investigate who was really involved in killing Leland’s father and disparaging Leland’s name within the family ranks.

Moving Target” displays J.A. Jance’s usual complex plots and twists and turns in the storyline to keep the reader thoroughly engrossed.

Liz Nichols


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Fatal Error by J.A. Jance

Anyone who has read my posts for awhile will realize that I am a fan of J.A. Jance’s mystery series. She is among the best American mystery storytellers of all time. I have read almost every mystery she has written with the exception of some of the early J.P Beaumont mysteries and I can think of only one that didn’t move me.

What makes Jance a master of her craft is that she makes her characters so multi-dimensional and her plots so suspenseful and complex that the reader literally feels like they are a part of the story. The reader quickly begins to care about the protagonist and, often the victims and the friends and family members of the protagonist and the victim. She creates a world that the reader is anxious to get back to in the next installment. That next book often starts right where the last novel left off, so the saga continues just like a conversation with an old friend.

The Ali Reynolds Mysteries features a former Los Angeles news anchor, Ali Reynolds, who is replaced at the same time by her studio and her two-timing husband, a TV news executive. She returns to her roots in Sedona, AZ to work at her parents’ diner, and later to serve as the Media Specialist for the local county sheriff’s office. She also starts a relationship with a computer and security mogul who lives in Sedona, B. Simpson.

Fatal Error” starts out with Ali’s successful completion of the Arizona Police Academy training, but when she returns to Sedona she discovers that state budget cuts have eliminated her job, and she goes back to helping out at the cafe while her parents go on a Caribbean cruise and B. heads all over the world on his business.

A visit from an old friend from her broadcaster days, Brenda Riley, and Brenda’s subsequent disappearance, causes Ali to use the services of B’s top researcher to figure out where she might be. Ali knows that she has been investigating a former online love interest and the information that Ali discovers from B.’s guy at High Noon Enterprises confirm that the man has been cyberstalking.

The book not only explores cyberstalking, but also police academy training and male-female rookie rivalry, police rules of evidence, hospice care, kidnapping, murder, illicit uses of UAV drones, and many other themes. There are many twists and turns that make it hard for the reader to put the book down.

“Fatal Error” is one of the most absorbing mysteries of one of the world’s best mystery writers. Highly recommended.

Liz Nichols

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