Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fatal Error-J. A. Jance

Fatal Error
J. A. Jance
Touchstone, Feb 1 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9781416563815

Former California TV anchor Ali Reynolds knows this is the summer that could make or break her. She will work the morning shift at her family’s restaurant while her parents go on vacation. Serving coffee at six AM is brutal enough. However, the fortyish Ali is also making a dramatic career change. She is by far the oldest of the five female students (and 102 males) attending the six-week training class in Peoria for new recruits at the Arizona Police Academy; in other words she is “Oma”, the Afrikaan word for either grandma (which she soon will be) or old woman.

Her former news colleague Brenda Riley asks to see her at the Rimrock Inn. Ali finds a drunken Brenda worried that her fiancé, Richard Lattimer of Grass Valley, California; whom she met online but has not seen in person or even a photo of him, has vanished. Ali agrees to make inquires and learns Lattimer is cyber stalker Richard Lowensdale.

Five months later, someone murders Lowensdale in his home in Grass Valley. The police suspect one of the dead man’s cyber victims; with the most likely being Brenda, who exposed Lowensdale to the women he hurt. Ali knows Brenda would have done a lot to harm her former fiancĂ©, but not kill him so she investigates the cyber stalker’s homicide.

This is a strong investigative thriller with terrific twists that emphasizes some believe the end justifies the mean at any cost including allowing the ten fatal errors of law enforcement placing cops at risk. Ali and her partner Grass Valley Police detective Gil Morris work well together on the complex case. Fast-paced from start to finish, the latest Ali Reynolds’ whodunit it is a great entry (see Cruel Intentions and Trial by Fire).

Harriet Klausner

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