DEADLY STAKES. By J.A. Jance. Simon & Schuster. 290 pages. $25.99.
Some mystery writers build their plots slowly, adding a detail here and there as the story proceeds. Not so for J.A. Jance. She puts it out there early on.
In her latest book, “Deadly Stakes,” she weaves the tale around 17-year-old A.J. Sanders, who is out in the Arizona hills near Camp Verde looking for a buried treasure. Directed there by his ex-convict father, who has appeared out of the blue, he discovers a crime scene and alerts authorities. At the scene, police discover two bodies.
While trying to connect the murders, they arrest two suspects who have been wrongly accused, and this is when Ali Reynolds steps in to save the day. Reynolds, a police-academy-trained former reporter and a familiar character from other Jance mysteries, usually upstages the local police and solves the crime.
Jance’s books follow a familiar pattern with the mystery neatly tied up at the end, making it a fast and easy read while waiting, perhaps, for a long-overdue flight.
Reviewer Frances Monaco is a writer based in Charleston.