Author: J.A. Jance
Publisher: William Morrow, 2010
Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Suspense, #4 Walker family mystery
Source: Purchased from Amazon.
First Line: They say it happened long ago that a young woman of the Tohono O'odam, the Desert People, fell in love with a Yaqui warrior, a Hiakim, and went to live with his people, far to the South.
Every summer in the Tohono O'odam Nation, the flowering of the night-blooming cereus-- the Queen of the Night-- is celebrated, but this year a man and his wife are murdered during their own private celebration, and a little girl loses the only family she's ever known.
To the little girl's rescue come Dr. Lani Walker, who sees similarities to her own childhood trauma in Angie, and Dan Pardee, an Iraq war veteran and a member of an unorthodox border patrol unit called the Shadow Wolves. With the aid of Pima County homicide detective Brian Fellows, they must keep the child safe while tracking down a killer.
Meanwhile retired homicide detective Brandon Walker-- stepfather to both Dr. Lani Walker and Detective Brian Fellows-- is investigating a cold case involving the murder of an Arizona State University coed. These two cases have the power to tear three families to shreds.
I have long been a fan of Jance's Joanna Brady series set in Bisbee, Arizona. Jance grew up in Bisbee, and her knowledge and affection infuse the setting with a very special quality. The Walker family series (Hour of the Hunter, Kiss of the Bees, Day of the Dead, Queen of the Night), set in Tucson and the Tohono O'odam Nation, reflect another stage in the author's life when she taught on the reservation.
Once again Jance deftly weaves together the two plot lines, imbuing both with a palpable sense of urgency and danger. Her characters in this series are not ten feet tall and bullet-proof; bad things can and do happen to them, and this adds to that sense of danger. One of the highlights of this series for me is the way that Jance incorporates Tohono O'odam teachings and legends into her storylines.
Yes, this book is the fourth in a series, but it's not necessary to read the first three in order to make sense of what's going on in Queen of the Night. Don't be surprised, however, if you read this book and then immediately want to find the others. They are always on my list of recommendations for anyone who wants to read well-crafted mysteries that give a true sense of southern Arizona.