Missing and Endangered
J. A. Jance
William Morrow Pub
Feb 16, 2021
Missing and Endangered by J. A. Jance brings back her wonderful character, Sheriff Joanna Brady. Her professional and personal lives collide when her college-age daughter is involved in a missing persons case and an officer involved shooting. The storyline reminds readers that police are people and must juggle a busy home life with a hectic career life.
Jance noted, “About a year and a half ago I watched an episode of “Web of Lies.” A sixteen-year-old girl had an online boyfriend who was much older than he portrayed himself. He ended up using “sextortion” on her. This was the first time I heard of the term. The girl finally went to her mother and got help. Something went into my head and what leaked out came through on my fingertips, this story. I am hoping this book will make readers aware of what is happening in the virtual world. In the past year, it has become more evasive and dangerous.”
The novels, set in Southern Arizona, shows Joanna to be an intelligent, strong, and determined woman who navigates a man’s world successfully. She must handle an understaffed department, that is not helped when a long-time detective notifies her, he is retiring. Almost at the same time, Joanna is told that a deputy has just been shot and badly wounded while trying to serve a protective order. Almost immediately an investigation is opened because the deputy shot and killed the shooter, a man who was being abused by a woman. To make matters worse, she gets a call from her oldest daughter, Jenny, that she is bringing her roommate home for Christmas.
“The people in law enforcement are my heroes. These are the people I write about where I see them as people first and cops second. Yes, there are bad apples, but that is so in about every profession. I have written bad apples in the course of my books, including Downfall. People forget how they put their lives aside when they put on their badges. There is always the possible implication they may not come home. In this book, I wanted to show how Joanna is a mother, a working mother. Also, the deputy who was shot critically, is a father of two little ones. With my books, I am trying to show that police officers are people first.”
The sub-plot involving Jenny is very interesting and informative. Beth a freshman, new to campus life, must overcome having led a sheltered existence at home where her domineering parents shun all things technological. But on campus, she quickly takes advantage of all technology has to offer, purchasing a smart phone and computer. After finding a boyfriend on a dating site, Beth has a phone relationship with him. He is attempting to control her by having Beth terminate all relationships including one with Jenny, with whom she has grown close. Beth realizes this is not what she wants from a relationship and breaks it off. Having previously sent photos of herself to the boyfriend, Ron, he uses ‘sextortion.’ It is when someone sends lewd texts of her to both strangers and classmates. In horror, she learns that Ron has somehow shared those private pictures with hundreds of people.
Jance has a knack for bringing out subjects that many readers are unaware of. In this novel, besides “sextortion,” she also delves into abuse, but this time it is a man abused by a woman. What is refreshing is the way she shows how law enforcement are not just numbers and robots but people with families and a personal home-life. As with all her novels, readers will not be disappointed.