||A missing teenager and an octogenarian found dead of apparently natural causes are pretty run-of-the-mill cases in Bisbee, Arizona, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is focusing on the last-minute details of her upcoming wedding. In this latest outing in Judith Jance's Brady series, the connection between the two events is a thin one. In the author's capable hands, however, it's enough to drive this well-plotted mystery to a credible conclusion.
Fifteen-year-old Lucy Ridder dreads her mother's release from prison, eight years after she was convicted of killing Lucy's beloved father. Lucy is aware that her mother's priority is not a family reunion but the retrieval of a mysterious diskette entrusted to Lucy by her dad shortly before his death. After inadvertently witnessing her mother's brutal slaying by a stranger who's also hot after the diskette, Lucy vanishes. It takes most of the novel for Joanna to figure out that Lucy's disappearance is tied to her mother's murder, and for good reasons. Besides the distraction of her pending nuptials, the sheriff has been accused of killing her elderly, beloved neighbor for financial gain. Because the reader knows the truth of both situations very early in the game, Joanna's delayed awareness doesn't pack as much wallop as it might. The greater mystery is whether she'll strangle her wedding-obsessed mother before she and her too-good-to-be-true fiancé make it to the altar. --Jane Adams