Books by Jonnie Jacobs

PAYBACK by Jonnie Jacobs
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 7, 2015

"The latest from Jacobs (Lying With Strangers, 2013, etc.) is long on suspense but short on surprise as it plunges toward its creepy but entirely predictable conclusion."
A single indiscretion threatens a businesswoman's family and friends. Read full book review >
LYING WITH STRANGERS by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 11, 2013

"Jacobs (Paradise Falls, 2012, etc.) takes too long to bring her pot to a boil. Smart readers will solve this one long before the puzzled spouse or the pokier-than-ever police."
A journalist's world unravels when her husband dies after being shot in a convenience-store holdup. Read full book review >
PARADISE FALLS by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 15, 2012

"Jacobs (The Next Victim, 2007, etc.) gives her story good bones, then swathes it in layers of brooding introspection and musing on family dynamics that muffle its punch."
The abduction of a teenaged girl sends a happily blended family into a tailspin. Read full book review >
THE NEXT VICTIM by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

"Kali's eighth case explores complex human attachments through a sharply focused plot that unfolds with beautifully controlled momentum."
A Bay Area defense attorney is called unexpectedly to Tucson for the most somber of all possible reasons. Read full book review >
THE ONLY SUSPECT by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 4, 2005

"Putting people you might meet any day into situations you can barely imagine gives Jacobs's latest tingler some powerful momentum."
There are bad ways to lose a spouse, and there are really bad ways, as Jacobs (Cold Justice, 2001, etc.) starkly demonstrates. Read full book review >
COLD JUSTICE by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 2001

"Concentrating on the classic elements—mystification and surprise—puts Jacobs right up there with the big guns."
Neither of her latest suitors is exactly what he seems. Ultrapersistent Nathan Sloane doesn't quite measure up to his yuppie image: He has no home phone, and his purported employer, Global Investment, has never heard of him. Homicide detective Bryce Keating, on the other hand, repeatedly shows more sensitivity than his little-black-book reputation would warrant. But the real reason Kali O'Brien spends so little time worrying about her men isn't her latest romantic disaster (Witness for the Defense, 2001) but her current forensic nightmare: Only months after the execution of Dwayne Arnold Davis for the Bayside Strangler murders, new corpses start appearing, dolled up in slutwear and strategically placed next to trash bins, just as the Strangler's were. It's bad enough that the first new victim is Anne Bailey, who worked with Kali on the team that prosecuted Davis. Worse yet, the media, led by reporter Jack Jackson, are all over the case. But worst of all, Kali's former boss, Alameda county DA Owen Nelson, is running for governor, and can't afford to have the public think that he might have executed the wrong man. An investigation that threatens to stop Nelson's political career cold may be just as deadly for Kali, as she follows the dangerous trail of someone with too much inside information to be just another serial killer. Intriguing possibilities narrowed down by solid detection will keep readers guessing to the end. Read full book review >
WITNESS FOR THE DEFENSE by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 1, 2001

"Jacobs (Motion to Dismiss, 1999, etc.) treats readers as not-too-bright jurors, dropping hints so blatantly that no one is likely to miss her ill-sprung surprise."
Bay area attorney Kali O'Brien has her work cut out for her defending Terri, beautiful wife of former NFL star Ted Harper, on charges of killing hate-radio host Bram Weaver. Weaver was the one person who could have deprived the Harpers of their heart's desire—adopting Hannah, the infant daughter delivered by Melissa Burke, a college student only too willing to sign her parental rights over to the wealthy, stable couple—on the grounds that he's the baby's natural father. Kali can poke holes in the state's circumstantial evidence: the long blond hair and purple sunglasses found in Weaver's apartment, the nylon fibers and fleece snagged by bushes outside, even the testimony of a neighbor who saw Terri's blue Explorer the night of the murder. But District Attorney Ray Shalla's made it clear that he wants to make an example of rich, famous Terri. What Kali really needs to wave in front of the jury is an alternate suspect, someone like Dan, the teenaged son Weaver abandoned as a toddler. Or feminist Suzze Madden, on record as threatening Weaver. Or fellow chauvinists Hank Lomax, Len Roemer, and Clyde Billings, Weaver's partners in some shady dot.com deal. Desperate to free her client, Kali leans not only on her law clerk, Jared Takahashi-Jackson, and private investigator Nick Logan, but on Terri's half-brother, Dr. Steven Cross—who, as Kali's ex-lover, may be more a distraction than a help. Read full book review >
MURDER AMONG STRANGERS by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 2000

"a third."
Pulling over to help a woman stranded by a flat tire in Read full book review >
MOTION TO DISMISS by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 1999

In the middle of launching a public offering of ComTech, his graphics chip company, Grady Barrett runs into a streak of rotten luck. His wife Nina, six months pregnant, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, which can't even be treated till after a caesarian. Deirdre Nichols, the beauty salon receptionist he picks up at a bar, accuses him of rape, and he won't even consider his lawyer Kali O'Brien's consensual-sex defense. Then suddenly the charge is withdrawn—but only because the complainant is dead, fallen from her balcony window. Or pushed, say the Oakland police, who claim they can place Grady's Mercedes convertible at the scene, courtesy of a statement by Deirdre's seven-year-old daughter. Calling on Hal Fisher, a gay investigator she's worked with before, Kali rolls up her sleeves in preparation for the trial. Once again, though, Grady is adamant about running his own defense. He can't spend six months to a year away from his sick wife and his little girl while he waits for the case to come to trial; Kali will have to do everything she can to get the charge thrown out at the preliminary hearing, even though nobody's been able to pull off that trick since Perry Mason. Jacobs is still too lightweight to run with her big sisters in the legal-intrigue genre; there's nothing of Nancy Taylor Rosenberg's sense of menace or Lisa Scottoline's powers of invention on display here. Instead, Kali's third case (Evidence of Guilt, 1997, etc.) is a whodunit—and the best-turned puzzle of Jacobs's six novels to date. (Author tour) Read full book review >
EVIDENCE OF GUILT by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 1997

Who would cut the throats of a defenseless woman and her four-year-old daughter? Not Wes Harding, insists his stepfather Jake, who gets his old fishing buddy Sam Morrison to take on his defense. Sam leans in turn on his friend Kali O'Brien (Shadow of Doubt, 1996) to be his co-counsel, and it's off to the races, with everybody on board but Wes, who's too truculent to talk to Kali or squelch the ambitious prosecutor's dreams of a quickie conviction based on the overwhelming physical evidence (Wes's bloodstained trousers, a telltale blond hair that could be from Lisa Cornell, Wes's lucky rabbit's foot in little Amy's pocket- -and it'll get worse). But Kali, digging into Lisa's past, finds a lot of secrets that could point elsewhere: her sub rosa consultations with a psychiatrist specializing in child abuse, her missing dream diary, hints of an affair that her sturdy fiancÇ wouldn't have approved of, a mysterious phone call the evening of the murder. If only Wes Harding would open up far enough to assist in his own defense, frets Kali—not knowing that her real quarry has already killed again, and isn't done yet. Three scoops of civilized interrogations (nobody wants to talk to the lawyer defending the man who'd do such a thing) don't offer much preparation for the sink of iniquity Kali finds under the smiling surface of California family values. Read full book review >
SHADOW OF DOUBT by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 1, 1996

Bay Area lawyer Kali O'Brien, back in her hometown of Silver Creek, Calif., to bury her father, finds skeletons (not his) leaping out of every closet. But, first, another death: Eddie Marrero, the high-school coach who, despite marriage and four daughters with Kali's old friend Jannine, isn't too occupied to make a brief pass at her and ask if he can consult her professionally the night before he gets shot with Jannine's own gun. The local police chief, an unimaginative soul—though he turns out to have unsuspected depths—can't be bothered looking any further than the widow, so Kali, agreeing to lend Jannine a hand, checks for witnesses to her alibi (none), hunts for the $10,000 Eddie must've had on hand in order to buy his sister Susie's share of the bar their late father had owned with his brother George (not a trace), and tries to implicate Uncle George in the murder (bingo). A missing babysitter will lead Kali to an extravagant series of adulterous revelations and a culprit as unsurprising as the new man waiting in the wings to win the heart she thinks she's left in San Francisco. Fans of Jacobs's two well-bred suburban California mysteries starring art consultant Kate Austen (Murder Among Friends, 1995, etc.) will be comforted to know that neither Kali nor Silver Creek is much of a stretch. Read full book review >
MURDER AMONG FRIENDS by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

More mild suburban malice for art consultant Kate Austen, whose client Mona Sterling is found dead (pills and Scotch) on her sofa. Since Mona didn't drink Scotch, Kate doesn't believe in the suicide theory her lover, Lt. Michael Stone, palms off on her, and it turns out that just about everybody in Walnut Hills, Calif., had it in for Monafrom the smooth-ex-husband avid to trim his alimony payments, to the embarrassed lover who can't afford to let his wife find out, to the irate husband of one of Mona's adult students at the community college. The solution, when it emerges from a tangle of pleasant gossipKate's always phoning people to ask if they might be the killercomes out of nowhere. Busy, chatty, and as much like Kate's debut (Murder Among Neighbors, 1994) as one more Buick rolling off the line. Read full book review >
MURDER AMONG NEIGHBORS by Jonnie Jacobs
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

When quintessential California socialite Pepper Livingston takes time off from her breakneck schedule (Sunshine House, the Save Our Hills Coalition, etc.) to get strangled, the news causes scarcely a ripple among her neighbors in trendy Walnut Hills. Despite Kate Austen's demure protests to the contrary (``Pepper Livingston was certainly the last person you'd ever expect to go and get herself killed''), life goes on as placidly as before. The officer who first questions Kate seems less interested in Pepper's murder than in Kate's thriving ficus; the grieving widower brings his daughter over to Kate's house to play and reminisce comfortably about Pepper over a couple of quiet scotches; the undifferentiated gossips at the Guild Wine Festival trade the most innocuous rumors about alternatives to the official drug-related robbery theory. The only excitement comes when Kate, abandoned by a flighty husband who's taken off for Europe in hopes of finding himself, falls for Michael Stone, the hard-bunned homicide lieutenant in charge of the case. Even in the throes of suburban passion, though, newcomer Kate still chooses dresses and makeup as carefully as ever, and she manages to spot the murderer without seriously disrupting her day care arrangements. A West Coast Compromising Positions, with omelettes, Chardonnay, and mild innuendo substituting for detection, and nary a mean bone in its well-preserved body. Read full book review >