Welcome to this week’s Friday56 and Book Beginnings on Fridays!
Happy Friday !
May your books be with you!
Luv Sassy X
Friday 56 – Ish…
Missing and Endangered by J. A. Jance brings back her wonderful character, Sheriff Joanna Brady. Her professional and personal lives collide when her college-age daughter is involved in a missing persons case and an officer involved shooting. The storyline reminds readers that police are people and must juggle a busy home life with a hectic career life.
The novels, set in Southern Arizona, shows Joanna to be an intelligent, strong, and determined woman who navigates a man’s world successfully. She must handle an understaffed department, that is not helped when a long-time detective notifies her, he is retiring. Almost at the same time, Joanna is told that a deputy has just been shot and badly wounded while trying to serve a protective order. Almost immediately an investigation is opened because the deputy shot and killed the shooter, a man who was being abused by a woman. To make matters worse, she gets a call from her oldest daughter, Jenny, that she is bringing her roommate home for Christmas.
The sub-plot involving Jenny is very interesting and informative. Beth a freshman, new to campus life, must overcome having led a sheltered existence at home where her domineering parents shun all things technological. But on campus, she quickly takes advantage of all technology has to offer, purchasing a smart phone and computer. After finding a boyfriend on a dating site, Beth has a phone relationship with him. He is attempting to control her by having Beth terminate all relationships including one with Jenny, with whom she has grown close. Beth realizes this is not what she wants from a relationship and breaks it off. Having previously sent photos of herself to the boyfriend, Ron, he uses ‘sextortion.’ It is when someone sends lewd texts of her to both strangers and classmates. In horror, she learns that Ron has somehow shared those private pictures with hundreds of people.
Jance has a knack for bringing out subjects that many readers are unaware of. In this novel, besides “sextortion,” she also delves into abuse, but this time it is a man abused by a woman. What is refreshing is the way she shows how law enforcement are not just numbers and robots but people with families and a personal home-life. As with all her novels, readers will not be disappointed.
Interview with J. A. Jance
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
J. A. Jance: About a year and a half ago I watched an episode of “Web of Lies.” A sixteen-year-old girl had an online boyfriend who was much older than he portrayed himself. He ended up using “sextortion” on her. This was the first time I heard of the term. The girl finally went to her mother and got help. Something went into my head and what leaked out came through on my fingertips, this story. I am hoping this book will make readers aware of what is happening in the virtual world. In the past year, it has become more evasive and dangerous.
EC: In this story, you had a guy abused?
JAJ: A year ago I received an email from a fan. He said his son was involved in an abusive relationship. He was going to leave his Christmas tree up until his son and granddaughter could get out of it. As of last December, the Christmas tree is still standing. It is also personal for me because one of my sons was involved in a marriage where our former daughter-in-law left him emotionally devasted. It took him years to get over it. The immediate assumption after hearing of an abusive relationship is that the husband, father, or boyfriend is the bad one, which is not always the case.
EC: How would you describe one of the children, Kendall?
JAJ: She is the character who won my heart. She assumes responsibility for her five-year-old brother, even though she is only seven. She is the star of the show because she is resourceful, determined, protective, smart, and tough. Her story is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. She lost her childhood because of her abusive mother, and now her stepfather, who was the children’s line of defense, is killed.
EC: How would you describe Jenny, Joanna’s oldest?
JAJ: She came on the scene nineteen books ago. At nine years of age, Jenny figures out she was on time, but the wedding was late. Today, she has grown into a young woman who is capable, smart, tough, caring and loyal. She assumes a lot of responsibility for her roommate who is very naïve about the world. She has learned resourcefulness from her mother as she watched Joanna deal with difficult situations both personally and professionally. In this book, for the first time Jenny understands how complex a job is for those in law enforcement.
EC: This past year law enforcement has been vilified?
JAJ: The people in law enforcement are my heroes. These are the people I write about where I see them as people first and cops second. Yes, there are bad apples, but that is so in about every profession. I have written bad apples in the course of my books, including Downfall. People forget how they put their lives aside when they put on their badges. There is always the possible implication they may not come home. In this book, I wanted to show how Joanna is a mother, a working mother. Also, the deputy who was shot critically, is a father of two little ones. With my books, I am trying to show that police officers are people first.
EC: Why Christmas in February?
JAJ: Because of Covid, it was a Christmas where nobody could come and get together. As I was writing this, I was able to give myself back Christmas this year.
EC: Is there any personal stuff in the book? Let’s start with the Wizard of Oz?
JAJ: After reading the Frank Baum books, I decided I wanted to be an author. In this novel, there is a connection between the Wizard and the boyfriend, Ron, which I hope helps the reader visually.
EC: Green Chile Casserole?
JAJ: I make it and absolutely love it. In Field of Bones, I did put in a meatloaf recipe. This recipe, I believe is on by website.
EC: Would you every write Cozy Mysteries?
JAJ: I doubt it. I started writing the Joanna Brady books with the intention of making her an amateur sleuth. But having written police procedurals for so long, I ended up turning her into a police officer. Since I don’t read cozies it would be hypocritical for me to write one.
EC: Rolling Shutters?
JAJ: When we lived in our house in Tucson Arizona there was a back patio. We were there for only a few months each year. We had an intruder one night who was chased by my Golden Retriever right through our bedroom, barking his head off. The rolling shutters were installed within weeks. We did it to not feel vulnerable and to feel safe.
JAJ: I always wanted a horse but was never able to have one. Jenny was able to clear her head and emotions with her solitary ride.
EC: Your next book?
JAJ: It will be an Ali Reynolds book titled, Unfinished Business, out in June. It has a Cold Case connection in Washington which is where J. P. Beaumont works on those types of cases. Harper Collins allowed us to have him make a cameo appearance in this book that is published by Simon & Schuster. I am also working on the next Beaumont book, titled, Nothing To Lose.