Monday, September 18, 2023

Blessing of the Lost Girls by J.A. Jance

First Line: July 2022. For RV nomads from all over the country, Charles Milton was always something of an enigma.
For years, Charles Milton has prowled the rodeo circuit, hunting the most vulnerable young women. He is a meticulous killer, making Indigenous women his target of choice since law enforcement has a history of ignoring their disappearances. 
Dan Pardee, a field officer with the newly formed Missing and Murdered Indigenous People's Task Force (MIP), has just been assigned a cold case. Three years ago, Apache rodeo star Rosa Rios vanished. Human remains were discovered in Cochise County, Arizona, around the time she went missing. Those remains have just been confirmed to be Rosa. With Sheriff Joanna Brady's help, Dan reopens the case, determined to bring justice to Rosa's family.
Joanna's daughter, Jennifer, a criminal justice major at Northern Arizona University, takes a personal interest in the case because she knew Rosa from her own amateur rodeo days. Once it becomes clear that Rosa was just one victim of a serial killer, Dan and Jennifer know they have to move fast before Charles Milton disappears only to reappear elsewhere to resume hunting.
J.A. Jance's Sheriff Joanna Brady series set in Cochise County, Arizona, and her books about the Walker family in Tucson have been my favorites for years. There are some series that, when you read them, you feel as though you've come home, and this applies especially to Joanna Brady. Over the years, I've watched Joanna grow from a young widow and newly elected sheriff to a seasoned veteran with a new family. These characters have become my fictional family who just happen to live in one of my favorite (and well-traveled) corners of the world.
The author's Walker family books are also favorites. I love the Tucson setting and how Jance weaves Tohono O'odham legends into each book. When I learned that Blessing of the Lost Girls combined both the Bradys and the Walkers, I couldn't be happier, and I hope this is only the first book to see this blending. 
From the first, readers know the identity of the serial killer. This story is about how he is caught and the people determined to bring him to justice. I am thrilled with the direction Jance is going with the character of Joanna Brady's oldest daughter, Jenny. Jenny has grown from a young girl crazy about her horse and barrel racing to a young woman about to graduate from college with a degree in criminal justice. When she realizes that she knows Rosa Rios, she doesn't hesitate to contact Dan Pardee with what she knows. She's also careful about how she helps with Pardee's investigation because she doesn't want to get her mother the sheriff in hot water. 
The characters in this book are intelligent, and I enjoyed how they worked together to find a killer who'd been flying beneath the radar for years. Pardee, field officer with the newly formed Missing and Murdered Indigenous People's Task Force (MIP), is a strong presence who works hard to find the killer. I definitely want to see more of him.
This is also a book that celebrates diversity and blended families. One character faces moving into assisted living. The adjustments people had to make due to Covid are mentioned. These characters, these families, come from different cultures, different races, different physical abilities, and different ages, and they've blended into strong families that readers will feel a part of. 
If you're worried about reading Blessing of the Lost Girls because you haven't read previous books about Joanna Brady or the Walker family, don't be. Jance does a skillful job of bringing everyone up to speed. Not to be missed are the two Afterwards at the end in which Jance explains her inclusion of Tohono O'odham stories in the book and her inspiration for one of the characters.

Character, story, setting... by all means, pick up a copy of this book. You will find yourself in the hands of a master... while I'm in the unenviable position of being forced to wait for more.

Blessing of the Lost Girls by J.A. Jance
eISBN: 9780063010116
William Morrow © 2023
eBook, 352 pages
Police Procedural, #1 Brady & Walker mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Net Galley 


  1. Very good review. I read a few of the Brady books years ago, but had stopped because I didn't have a lot of reading time and there was so much to read. Now there are even more books. But I may just drop in on this family again.


    1. Also, the writer is a hoot, have seen her at PP.

    2. I think you'd like this book in particular, Kathy, and I've attended several of Jance's events at The Poisoned Pen. Yes, she certainly can be a hoot.

    3. Omigosh, she really was a hoot yesterday doing a monologue. With Barbara away and Patrick setting up a comfortable place for her to sit, she just held forth in a stream of consciousness. Wow, what I learned about her and her books.

    4. From my experience, she always does a monologue. She's very enjoyable to listen to. You should've seen the look on her face when I told her that Denis and I spent our honeymoon at the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee because of her Joanna Brady books.

    5. Fabulous. But when I've seen her with Barbara, it is a bit more of a dialogue and Barbara does make comments, too.

  2. Such a timely subject for this one, Cathy! And I do like Jance's way of depicting the setting. I think you're right, too, that she's let her characters grow and develop so well that you feel you know them. A visit with either Joanna or the Walker family is like catching up with friends.

  3. I read several Jance books years ago during my "Mystery Period" but I haven't read the more recent books. Your review makes clear that I should remedy that.

  4. I've been a little afraid to jump into such a long series, especially never having read Jance, so what you say about this one being suitable for readers like me is encouraging. I'll take a look.


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