Exit Wounds

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

J. A. Jance’s Exit Wounds once again involves the reader in the criminal justice system of small town Bisbee, AZ. Why did someone shoot Carol Mossman through the locked door of her trailer? Whom was she hiding from? The reclusive murder victim had few friends except for her grandmother and derived what little pleasure in life she had from taking in stray dogs.

Shortly after Mossman’s death, two more female victims surface: investigative film journalists from California. Mossman’s death now takes on new significance. A serial killer may be in Cochise County. There at first appears to be no other connection between these three women, until Sheriff Joanna Brady learns that the journalists had planned to pay Mossman five thousand dollars for an interview. Now the money is nowhere to be found.

Brady also discovers that the journalists had recently infiltrated a break-away conservative sect of former Mormons calling itself The Brethren that lives in isolated enclaves in Mexico and the United States. The connections between the three women and this group will provide the key to solving the murders. At first thought to be one in a series of apparently serial killings, Mossman’s death actually involves a darker chain of events that leads Sheriff Brady into the tangled relationships between several generations of conservative Mormons.

The body count rises the closer Brady comes to the truth of why Carol Mossman was murdered. Eventually Brady uncovers a story tragic in its ripple effect consequences: child abuse, incest, sexual slavery, and polygamy.