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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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