Deadly Stakes – J.A. Jance

May 15, 2017

J.A. Jance brings another mystery for her ex-reporter heroine Ali Reynolds to solve in Deadly Stakes, published by Touchstone Books and Simon & Schuster, Inc., copyright 2013.


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The beginning of this novel sets us in the studio of Video Glam, a dating service in Phoenix, Arizona that specializes in videos of the applicants who are looking for a suitable partner to date.  Gemma Ralston pulls up in her Mercedes SLK to Video Glam in what may be called of the less glamorous part of town.  Gemma had written herself a script that said she was a mature woman who was lighthearted and looking for fun times, not interested in marriage and does not want to compete with any mothers her prospect might have children with.  Besides that, she did not want to give up her alimony payments.  She was about to leave when a dusty old car pulled in beside her and a woman, who was in obvious need of a makeover, hopped out and hurried inside.  Gemma has always been the curious type so she follows her in to see what can be done to transform this bedraggled, unattractive woman into someone a man would want to date.


Some miles across town Allison “Ali” Reynolds is helping with her mother’s campaign to run for mayor of Phoenix.  Ali has a fair amount of experience with the political workings of Arizona politics as she had been a reporter for a local newspaper for many years.  Ali is sitting in her office talking on the phone with her husband, who everyone knows as B, when she is contacted by Lynn Martinson, who is a suspect in the murder of a woman who was the ex-wife of the man Lynn was, through Video Glam, involved with and seeing on a regular basis.

Lynn relates to Ali the story of A.J. Sanders, whose late father had sent him to a place in the Camp Verde desert where A.J. finds a woman dying but fails to get her help in time.  He had to leave the dying woman to get cell phone reception but when he returned she was obviously expired so A.J. left before the sheriff showed up because he did not want to answer questions about what he was doing in the desert with a shovel while a dead woman was lying close by.  A.J. leaves just as the cops arrive but then realizes he had left the shovel near his original goal, a box his father had left for him and was also buried very near the body.

This is the point where J.A. Jance brings us back to her principal investigator, Ali Reynolds, who is faced with investigating this obviously brutal murder on behalf of the woman who is accused of the crime because she was dating the victim’s ex-husband.  Ali is not a licensed investigator, despite B pushing her to get her license, but having been a reporter for several years, and then a police detective for a few more, she has a great deal of practical experience in investigation and has an interesting theory about how the victim came to her unfortunate end.  She was found by a young man whose father was a convicted counterfeiter.  When A.J. returned a few days later and the shovel was still there he decided to dig up the box his deceased father had buried there years before.  He is very surprised to find the box contained over 300,000 dollars worth of Las Vegas poker chips.  So he began spending them.  That is how Ali gets a trail she can follow to connect this case with another murder which was brought to her attention soon after her investigation began.

This is a suspenseful novel that held my attention throughout.

Literally, Paul.

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