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on 14 July 1998
Until the end of chapter 20, I planned to give this book four or five stars. I enjoyed the native legends. I cared about the two heroines, Rita (formerly Dancing Quail) and Diana Ladd, not to mention Diana's young son, David. The flashbacks to the characters' pasts were absorbing. However, I hated what happened to Diana in the climax. Ms. Jance gave us plenty of warning that her villain was a homicidal sociopath. That was enough for me. I didn't need for Diana to suffer as she did. True, what she went through was probably no worse [and didn't last as long] than what the heroine went through in *The Hellfire Club*, but that was by Peter Straub. When I read his books (or those by Stephen King or Barbara Hambly, etc.), I know what I'm getting into. I'd read only three other Jance books before this one, and they certainly didn't lead me to expect that the climax would be so brutal. What made that climax even more offensive to me was that Diana, up until then, wa! ! s portrayed as a reasonably smart and strong woman preparing for the probablity the psycho would be after her. Suddenly she jettisons most of her brains and common sense so the psycho's tricks work. I don't accept the period the book is set in as an excuse for her [initially] poor showing. Years before Diana was even born, my Granny took a frying pan to the head of a big drunk who was trying to beat her up and knocked him out cold. I admit that the book improved once Diana got her smarts back. I liked the end. I'm sure I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd known what I was letting myself in for. Well, you've been warned. Enjoy. Tip for readers: "Tucson" is pronouced "too-sahn", not "tuck-sahn." Ann E. Nichols
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