A powerful tale that explores the darkest corners of human nature, revealing the grievous injuries inflicted behind locked doors, the unseen wounds that bleed and destroy and never heal.
The incomparable J. A. Jance returns with a powerful tale that explores the darkest corners of human nature, revealing the grievous injuries inflicted behind locked doors, the unseen wounds that bleed and destroy and never heal ...
The heat is a killer in Cochise County, Arizona, with temperatures over 100 degrees. In the suffocating stillness of an airless trailer, a woman is lying dead, a bullet hole in her chest. Why someone would murder a harmless loner with a soft spot for stray dogs is only one of the questions nagging at the local police; another is why the killer used an eighty-five-year-old bullet, fired from the same weapon that slaughtered two other women who were discovered bound, naked, and gruesomely posed on the remote edge of a rancher's land.
The slayings are as oppressive as the blistering heat for Sheriff Joanna Brady, who must shoulder the added double burden of a brutal reelection campaign and major developments on the home front. With suddenly more on her plate than many big-city law officers have to contend with, Joanna must put marital distractions and an opponent's dirty tricks in the background and deal with the terrifying reality that now threatens everyone in her jurisdiction: a serial killer in their midst.
A twisted and lethal drama is unfolding in this small corner of the southwestern desert as fear, hatred, and the evil at the core of one family's history come to a rapid boil beneath a merciless Arizona sun. Pressure mounts for Sheriff Brady personally and professionally while she pursues a sadistic murderer into the shadows of the past to get to the roots of a monstrous obsession ... and expose the permanent wounds of a crime far worse than homicide.
Hoarders like Carol Mossman exist in the real world. I wouldn't have known about them or written about them had it not been for my sister, E. Jane Decker, Director of Animal Control for Pinal County in Coolidge, Arizona. Like Carol Mossman, these unfortunate women have two things in common -- a history of sexual abuse when they were children and the unending availability of unwanted dogs.
What can we do to help? Understand that when we take a cute, cuddly little puppy into our homes, it is a lifetime commitment that covers the next 10 to 15 years -- if we're very lucky. We need to understand that if the dog in our care has problems, we must go to experts for the kind of help and training that will keep Spot or Daisy from becoming "unwanted and unplaceable." We need to spay and neuter our animals and, when it's time for a new dog in our life, we need to avail ourselves of pet rescue operations all over the country.
Finally, if you know of a hoarder in your neighborhood, tell your local animal control officers what's going on. Hoarders think they're helping, but usually the animals in their "care" are undernourished, unvaccinated, neglected, and unsocialized animals who are difficult to place once removed from their unfortunate environment.
Our mother always used to say, "God helps those who help themselves." Maybe in this instance, God helps those who help others -- because the dogs can't help themselves and neither can the hoarders.
The woman lay in her bed, tossing and turning, and tried to sleep. It was hot, but southern Arizona in July is always hot. Due to unpaid bills, the power company had shut off electricity to the shabby mobile home months ago. By now she was pretty well used to sleeping without benefit of a cooler or even a blowing fan.
The heat was a factor, but more disturbing than physical discomfort was thinking about the approaching interview. She had kept her mouth shut for almost thirty years. For that long, other than pouring her heart out to her grandmother, she had been part of an ugly conspiracy of silence. No more. Tomorrow--today, in fact--she was going to talk. To strangers. To reporters. She was going to let it all hang out. The question was, what would happen then?
Someone had told her once--wasn't it that same grandmother?--that the truth will set you free. The story she was about to tell was the truth, but would it really free her of the demons that plagued her...
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