'Cruel Intent' has twists, turns to keep book interesting --
By Pat Williams --
There’s no mystery about the crime: vicious serial murder. The perpetrator appears at the beginning of the tale exhibiting his barely-controlled anger and his diabolical acts in the murder of a beautiful young mother. The man is proud of his well-planned executions, and works diligently to avoid the mistakes others make. This killer is a professional in the community, well-educated, and in a social level in which he would not be directly targeted. He is technologically astute, and uses his computer system to find and manipulate his victims.
Ex-television journalist Ali Reynolds has experienced success in marriage and career, but has also tasted the other side of the coin. She lived through the illness and death of her first husband, endured her second husband’s unfaithfulness and then was wrongly accused of murdering him, and quietly tolerated the emotional and social stress of such an untenable situation. Returning home to Sedona, Arizona, Ali retreats from the limelight to enjoy being close to family, spending time remodeling her home, and renewing herself.
On hearing that a young woman had been killed, Ali becomes aware that the victim is identified as the wife of the Bryan Forester, the contractor handling Ali’s renovation project. She has always respected and liked Bryan, and when he was arrested for the murder, Ali was unable to believe he could have committed such an act. After her own experience of trying to prove herself innocent, Ali felt a deep desire to find the truth.
Complications arise when Ali’s good friend and occasional romantic interest, Dave Holman, began to assert his position as police detective and question Bryan in a manner that seemed accusatory to Ali. Ali soon found herself exhibiting a defensive manner when Dave was on the work site questioning Bryan’s crew, while Dave was irritated to find Ali expressing compassion toward someone who was a viable suspect for murder.
Using her internet, Ali soon found that Bryan’s wife was not the faithful person she liked to portray, and that her home life was obviously troubled. While Ali was beginning her search for other facts, the computer sites she used were also being watched by the murderer. Unaware that her personal information had been identified, Ali also did not know the killer was beginning to consider her a problem that could be removed – another murder, if necessary.
The story flows smoothly, and the book is easy to read. Ali Reynolds appears in the fourth book of a series, with a fifth to be published early in 2010. J. A. Jance has written innumerable books involving different characters, and while each series features a different personality with an independent plot, they are written so that the books need not be read in order of their publication.
Jance’s current plot stresses various uses of the internet, as well as the dangers involved in others being able to intrude into an individual’s website. In addition to the evil intent of murder, the author creates suspense and tension by having murder charges falsely brought against a person with which the reader can develop empathy.
As the lead character, Ali is more developed than in other serial-type novels. She has obvious character flaws, yet is family-oriented, kind, strong, successful, and smart. Not a bad composition for someone who is always right on target in helping to unravel mysterious deaths in odd situations.
Along with other unexplained deaths, lying witnesses, and strange coincidences, there are enough twists and turns in the story to keep the reader interested and intrigued. Jance proves her writing skill in this series, and the pleasure found in reading this current book only whets the positive anticipation for the next suspenseful adventure.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
‘Cruel Intent’ has twists, turns to keep book interesting (J. A. Jance)
From The Courier of Montgomery County (Houston) --