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Duel to the Death: An Ali Reynolds Mystery


Duel to the Death: An Ali Reynolds Mystery

I have a confession to make. I had read, enjoyed and reviewed many of the books in J.A. Jance’s two series starring Joanna Brady and J.P. Beaumont over the years after meeting the author personally at the beginning of her hugely successful writing career (more on that later!). When I opened DUEL TO THE DEATH, I was equally delighted and stunned that I obviously had not been paying attention. Her new-to-me protagonist, Ali Reynolds, is a partner in a cyber security firm located in Arizona. Ali has starred in 12 prior thrillers, starting with EDGE OF EVIL in 2006.

Wow! When I last left Jance, I thought she was putting J.P. Beaumont out to pasture as an aging Seattle detective who had solved a sex crime that involved sexting, exploitation and snuff films. I was wrong on two counts: Beaumont is anything but out to pasture (the latest book in that series released in 2017), and Jance had much more to say on the subject of internet crime.

"Part sci-fi, part detective novel, part thriller, DUEL TO THE DEATH will leave you satisfied, better informed about the mysterious world of the multi-billion-dollar industry of Bitcoins, and entertained."

Cyber security is a hot topic these days, especially with the recent Facebook scandal. Jance is light years ahead of this reader when it comes to understanding exploitation of personal information, and is worlds ahead with the introduction in previous novels of a terrifyingly evolved AI called Frigg. For those of you hopelessly behind the times in futuristic computer technology, AI stands for artificial intelligence. Well, I knew that --- my grandson’s major is computer engineering aimed at robotics and AI, and he tries valiantly to keep me up to date on the terminology. Ali and her husband’s cyber security firm, High Noon Enterprises, tangled with and successfully deactivated Frigg in MAN OVERBOARD. Or so they thought.

Jance had me at Bitcoins when I read the plot synopsis. This is a subject that has both baffled and intrigued me from the time I first heard the phrase. It’s the main issue in DUEL TO THE DEATH when Frigg is thought to be dead and buried.

Part sci-fi, part detective novel, part thriller, DUEL TO THE DEATH will leave you satisfied, better informed about the mysterious world of the multi-billion-dollar industry of Bitcoins, and entertained. The evolution of the reclusive and autistic genius, Stu, a key partner in High Noon Enterprises, is just one example of Jance’s genius at character and plot development and what has kept her at the top of the bestseller lists since the early 1990s.

The Ali Reynolds series got off to a shaky start with the first few novels, and I vaguely recall starting one and laying it aside. I should’ve known better. I underestimated Jance’s persistence, and she stuck with it by developing a cast of interesting characters in whom she believed. Jance is nothing if not tenacious and talented, and with all of those bestsellers under her belt, she just kept slugging away.

Now for my anecdote. Jance’s sister worked in the same governmental agency where I was an aide to an elected official. We were chatting one day about reading, and I mentioned just starting to review for Bookreporter. She suggested I meet her sister, Judy, at a local book signing. This was my first exposure to this witty --- no, make that hilarious --- woman who had her audience in the palm of her hand as she related how she killed off bad guys through her personal experiences. The number one victim on her list was her ex-husband, and number two was a college writing instructor who looked down his nose at genre writing. He told her that as a woman she couldn’t possibly succeed. She dispatched the alcoholic ex-husband in one of her early books and made her writing professor into a serial killer who died a hideous death spread out over two novels.

If you have a chance to go to a book signing near you, GO!

Reviewed by Roz Shea on March 23, 2018

Duel to the Death: An Ali Reynolds Mystery
by J.A. Jance

  • Publication Date: September 25, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501150995
  • ISBN-13: 9781501150999