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Books: Queen of page turners

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news

New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance has not only been a prolific writer since she started at age 39, but also a wildly successful one; she has 15 million copies of her books in print, and she consistently hits the national bestseller lists.Her latest novel, “Queen of the Night,” is the fourth in the Walker family series, but even if you’ve never heard of the Walkers, Jance’s multilayered book will capture you from the minute you start reading the prologue, packed with a Native American legend, and secrets and murders that span decades. However, if you’re not familiar with the characters, plan on spending at least an hour fully engrossing yourself in the book before you put it down – if you try to read 20-30 pages, leave it on the table for a couple days and return, you might find yourself paging back to refresh your memory.You see, Jance is a masterful storyteller, full of complexity. She packs “Queen of the Night” full of action and connects past and present murders with three separate families – each with their own intriguing experiences.First, a killing disrupts a couple’s plans to attend a Native American annual celebration on the night the Queen of the Night flower blooms in Arizona. A little girl is the only one who witnessed the murder, and when Dr. Lani Walker comes to her aid, the doctor herself flashes back to her own childhood trauma. Nevertheless, she and an Iraq war veteran and a homicide investigator must safeguard the child, while trying to find the murderer.Meanwhile, a retired homicide detective continues to investigate an unsolved murder of a college student in 1959, because the one person who holds clues to the victimization is willing to talk -finally. To complicate matters, his wife, a writer, keeps re-experiencing her own near-murder by not only “seeing” her victimizer, but also talking to him.Tension continues throughout the book as the crimes unravel and threaten familial relationships. Perhaps her stories are so riveting and convincing because she spent several years living on a reservation near Tucson, and while she was there, she and her first husband became targets of a serial killer. Luckily, police caught him before he struck.Tony Hillerman fans are well advised to delve into Jance’s novels, if they haven’t already. She crafts stories based on a foundation of Native American culture and delivers them to a modern and complex world. In fact, she dedicates “Queen of the Night” to Hillerman.


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