From the prolific Jance (Trial by Fire, 2009, etc.), another entry in the Ali Reynolds saga in which the woman who would be a cop is sidetracked by a cyberspace Lothario, a female psychopath and a killer budget.
As part of an ongoing effort to join the Yavapai County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Department on a full-time basis—she’d been serving as a consultant—Ali Reynolds has to complete an obligatory, 6-week course at the state police academy. She makes it, breathing hard. Not easy being a 40-something in a highly competitive population of 20- and 30-somethings. Sheriff Gordon Maxwell is almost as pleased with her glittering grades as she is, but an inflexible county budget comes between them. Consequently, she’s forced to put her ambitions on hold. Enter Brenda Riley, an old friend dating back to a period when they were both TV anchorwomen in California. Since then, booze and hard times have had their way with Brenda’s trademark perkiness. She needs help desperately, she tells Ali, who’s famous for not placing insurmountable obstacles before a sob story. Brenda, it seems, has fallen in love—a perfect man, she insists, despite the fact that she has yet to set eyes on him. Theirs has been a courtship in cyberspace, fulfilling if unconventional. Now, however, Richard Lowensdale has vanished and, not knowing what else to do, Brenda has turned to Ali. Reluctantly, Ali agrees to a bit of investigating, discovering soon enough that Brenda’s perfect Richard is the perfect Richard of a good many other women, including one he shouldn’t have gone near with a 10-foot pole. In her inimitable, take-no-prisoners style, Ali sorts it all out, of course. As one close observer says admiringly: “Did anyone ever tell you you’re a pushy broad? Smart but very pushy.”
Formulaic, but as always main character Ali manages to disarm.