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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Dead Wrong

Reviewed: November 7, 2007
By: J.A. Jance / read by Debra Monk
Publisher: Harper Audio
5 CDs, 6 hours, $32.95

Dead Wrong is the 12th entry in the Sheriff Joanna Brady series of mysteries by Judith Ann Jance, who has also written 17 novels featuring police detective J.P Beaumont and three featuring Ali Reynolds, as well as several stand-alone thrillers. While it probably wouldn’t matter these days, the “J.P.” came about because her publisher felt that the Beaumont books (which feature a male) wouldn’t be taken seriously if they had a woman’s name on them. This was back in 1985.

The Brady novels would never have had that problem, bit she didn’t start those until 1993.

Joanna is a second generation law officer recently reelected to the position of Sherpa in a small Arizona town after what was apparently a hard fought campaign, one made more difficult by her opponent’s habit of pointing out that she was pregnant with her second child. As the book opens she is near the end of her third trimester and really doesn’t need anything special complicating her life just weeks before she give birth.

Crime is never so cooperative. It’s murder, and the body in question is something of mystery in itself in that its fingers have been removed. Once the detachment finds out who he is, they have to figure out where he was killed and why. It emerges that he was apparently stalking a local real estate agent shortly before he was killed, taking her picture with a disposable camera and following her from place to place.

What that all means, and how it led to his death, is something that Brady has to find out before her water breaks.

In the meantime, she also has to deal with her husband, a budding mystery novelist, being away at a convention as well as the arrival of his parents, including the mother-in-law from hell, who want to be there to “help” during the birth of the baby.

It’s a trying set of circumstances, and Brady has to cope with all of it.

Unless they are presented in their complete form, in unabridged versions that can run up to 11 hours or more in length, books are generally shortened for the purposes of audio presentation, Descriptions are trimmed; events not directly related to the development of the main plot are excised; some of the action is paraphrased rather than read completely.

In the case of Dead Wrong, it appears that an entire subplot was removed from the abridgment. Anyone purchasing this 6 hour version of the reading will be baffled by the plot description on the back cover of the case. The second paragraph relates to the full reading, which is a different production featuring a different reader, in which a second murder complicates the plot already outlined in the first one.

This one adaptation is quite seamless, and I would never have realized how much of the story was missing if I hadn’t read the blurb on the back of the package.

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