Partner in Crime by J. A. Jance

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Partner in Crime

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When artist Rochelle Baxter falls violently ill and dies on the eve of the first exhibition of her stunning portraits of the Southern Black experience, Sheriff Joanna Brady must use her wits and energy to solve the case. In the small town of Bisbee, Arizona, what appears to be a lover’s quarrel soon grows into something far more sinister and far-ranging.

As if Brady did not have enough to worry about with Baxter’s death, Diedre Canfield, the owner of the Castle Rock Gallery where the exhibit was scheduled to open, and her boyfriend, Warren Gibson, insist on going ahead with the opening, despite the artist’s death and over the angry objections of Baxter’s boyfriend, Bobo Jenkins. Surprisingly, when the time comes for the exhibit’s opening, Canfield and Gibson cannot be found. Suddenly there appears to have been three murders, and Bobo Jenkins has a strong connection to all three persons.

Yet nothing about these apparent crimes is what it appears to be. Sheriff Brady discovers hints of a witness protection plan gone terribly wrong when she attempts to follow up on various clues that lead her to a link with Seattle and that state’s Attorney General’s office. To complicate matters, Special Homicide Investigator J. P. “Beau” Beaumont of that office is sent to Bisbee to follow up on connections between a prison scandal and Baxter’s apparent murder.

For the first time, author J. A. Jance brings together her two popular mystery series’ sleuths: Brady and Beaumont, who must learn to work together to solve these crimes. The result is a story that is entertaining and stylistically interesting. Jance tells a story with plenty of surprising twists and interesting connections. The action is brisk, and both Beaumont and Brady are well-developed, compelling characters.