Inside Joanna's office, things weren't much better. The thermostats at all county-owned facilities were now set at a budget/energy-conscious 80 degrees -- too warm to think or concentrate. She had a fan in her office, too, but she hated to use it because it tended to blow loose papers all over her desk -- and there were always loose papers. The radio, playing softly behind her desk, switched from music to bottom-of-the-hour news where the weather was a big concern. All of Arizona found itself in the grip of a severe drought and what was, even for July, a fierce heat wave.
The radio reporter announced that flights in and out of Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport had been grounded due to concerns that the heat-softened runways might be damaged by planes landing and taking off in the record-breaking 126-degree temperatures. The announcer's running gag about its being a dry heat didn't help Joanna's frame of mind. Bisbee, situated two hundred miles southeast of Phoenix, was a couple of thousand feet higher than Phoenix and more than twenty degrees cooler, but that didn't help, either. Deciding to ignore the weather, Joanna switched off the radio and returned to studying her calendar and its self-inflicted difficulties.
Months earlier, one of her least favorite deputies, Kenneth W. Galloway, had officially announced his intention to run against her. Bankrolled by a wife with a booming real estate business in Sierra Vista, Ken, Jr., had resigned from Joanna's department within weeks of announcing his candidacy. Minus the burden of a regular job, Galloway had been on the stump ever since. He spent every day on the campaign trail, crisscrossing the county with door-belling efforts and public appearances.
And that was where he had Joanna at a disadvantage. With a department to run, she couldn't afford to doorbell all day long. She had done her share of rubber-chicken banquets and pancake-breakfast speeches for local civic organizations, but she'd had to squeeze them in around her regular duties. Which was why she had said yes to appearing at all those various Fourth of July events. She'd be able to cross paths and shake hands with far more people at those holiday get-togethers than she would have been able to see under ordinary circumstances ...
The foregoing is excerpted from Exit Wounds by J. A. Jance. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.
Blood at the Root
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