WEB OF EVIL - J A Jance
WEB OF EVIL is the second Ali Reynolds book from JA Jance - who also writes a number of other series - the Joanna Brady books; J P Beaumont books and a number of thrillers involving the Walker Family.
WEB OF EVIL takes up with Ali after she has returned to her hometown, and as her divorce from husband Paul is about to take place. She returns to LA for court appearances - to finalise the divorce and her wrongful dismissal case against her old employers. Despite Paul being the one who is desperate for the divorce to proceed quickly - his very young girlfriend is very pregnant and their wedding is to happen the day after the divorce - he doesn't show at the court date. Ali remains in town anyway - with a new date set for the divorce, she's also waiting for the second case - when the reason that Paul hasn't shown up becomes all too abundantly clear. Ali, her mother, and a policeman friend from her hometown find themselves investigating what happened to Paul, trying to support his pregnant girlfriend and dealing with the fallout from a big mess.
J A Jance is a very prolific writer, and the Ali Reynolds series is one of her most recent developments, which undoubtedly has a big range of fans. This book is a very very busy story with lot's happening, a lot of people rushing around and a heroine who must get out there and save the day herself. The police suspect that she's behind what happened to her ex-Husband. This suspicion seems to be based mostly on her driving through the same area where he died. I think. Nobody else seems to be wondering about the girlfriend, her grasping mother or the odd inclusion of Sumo Sudoku to wedding festivities (Sudoku played with rocks - don't ask / I couldn't quite work it out either).
There's a very big cast of supporting characters - people who subscribe to Ali's blog / her family and supporters / friends of the ex-husband and his girlfriend / the girlfriend's family / the staff at the mansion that Ali used to share with her husband. The blog itself also plays a part as a supporting character, as Ali shares what's happening with her life by way of blog postings.
All this gave the whole thing a feeling of vague confusion - I had trouble following the method behind using her blog (sad bit of nit picking on my part I know); I was also almost terminally distracted by the dialogue style which just didn't work for this reader; and to be perfectly honest - over 35 marked occurrences where somebody refers to the makes and models of cars (although that got inconsistent as the book went on) - and I was thoroughly and totally distracted from the central story. Add to that a mobile home with a basement and some really unclear reasoning behind a hometown friend getting involved in the whole mess and everything got unfocused and just plain daft. I'm not sure if reading the earlier book in the series might not help understand Ali a bit better - but if she insists on referring to her ex-husband as "Fang" publicly and Paul everywhere else (except the book blurb where he seems to have been known as the 'cheating rat'), I'm not sure I'd be able to.
Certainly the book reads very quickly and you can charge through the story. Maybe that's part of the attraction of these sorts of books - they are quick / a lot happens / and the bad guys get it in the end.
The highway from Los Angeles to the Palm Springs desert is parched, unforgiving and deadly. In the suffocating stillness of a car boot, a man - his hands and mouth bound with tape - waits to learn his fate.
Ali Reynolds is travelling that same blistering, lonely highway. Just fired from her glamorous high profile anchorwoman job, Ali is returning to her hometown in Arizona to lick her wounds, shedding her old life and her old husband (the 'cheating rat') in the process. She's started a blog to help vent her feelings of betrayal: cutlooseblog.com