Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fatal Error, by J.A. Jance

Okay, so the mystery binge didn't quite end. Instead, I read the latest installment in J.A. Jance's Ali Reynolds series (one of four series that Jance has going--and not my favorite). Ali is a former TV anchor who returned to her hometown of Sedona, Arizona, after being fired from her job. After a series of traumas and some good luck (she keeps inheriting things, a nice trick if you can manage it), she has settled into a relationship with B. Simpson, the head of a computer security firm populated by some top-notch hackers, and is at the police academy, training so she can become the PR officer for the local sheriff's department. Unfortunately, she is laid off the day she returns from the academy.

Unemployment doesn't suit her, and she eventually is drawn into a case involving a former colleague in the news business, Brenda Riley. Brenda, too, was fired, but she hasn't fared so well post-stardom; she has been dumped by her online boyfriend and problems with alcohol have led to a series of arrests. When she discovers the erstwhile boyfriend is not who he says he is, she finds a new purpose and a lot of trouble, trouble she eventually draws Ali into.

The story is fast-paced and switches perspectives often enough to keep you interested--even though the case itself and the fact that Ali is able to crack it (mostly because of those hackers I mentioned) both seem utterly unbelievable. Jance also seems to repeat some elements of the back story of various characters unnecessarily. I don't know whether she forgot what she'd already told us (shouldn't her editor catch that?) or she thinks her readers aren't too bright and can't keep up (which would be pretty annoying)--but either way, I wish she'd cleaned that up.

Fatal Error isn't a great mystery, but it's not a terrible one either and it's a fast read, so . . . it's sideways thumb on this one.

Favorite passage: None

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