Rhinestone Cowboy

When I left for college in Tucson, Bisbee was only a hundred miles away, but still, I was homesick. My mother still had four children at home and lots to do—clothes to wash, hang, and iron, meals to cook, chauffeuring, and paper routes to manage, but once a week she took the time to sit down at the Formica table in the kitchen and write me a letter. She had only a seventh grade formal education, but her penmanship was beautiful and her grammar impeccable. In her letters, she kept me up to date on what was happening back home with the family and the neighbors, including her forenoon coffee pals—Harriet Smith, Verna Dunkerson, and Lilyan Weatherford. It was all ordinary, everyday stuff, but oh how I welcomed seeing that small envelope in my mail box behind the front desk at Pima Hall.

And that’s how I view writing the blog each week—as a letter from home to my readers. For instance this week I got to go to SAFEWAY!! That doesn’t sound like much of a treat, but it was. With Bill’s health issues, we’ve had someone else doing our shopping throughout the pandemic. Our personal shopper is very good about bringing home everything on the list. What he doesn’t bring home are the things that aren’t on the list because I didn’t realize I wanted them. So on my first trip to a grocery store in a year and a half, I was lost. I didn’t know where anything was. And I came home with a bounty of grapes, peaches, and berries—because I had to see them in person to know how much I was missing them.

Each Friday morning, after the blog is posted, one of my weekly treats is to go through the comments one by one. Sometimes I reply; sometimes I don’t, but I read them all. Bill calls it my “psychological income” from writing. And during this time of isolation, how I relish seeing those comments, the ones from my regulars and from may irregulars as well! And ditto for reading my email every day first thing in the morning because I never know what might be hiding there. Today, for instance, I received a note from a woman who had attended a baby shower earlier this summer where the prize gift of all was a set of six pairs of baby socks. Then yesterday, as she was reading Fire and Ice, she read about Butch explaining to Joanna that their washing machine had come to grief due to swallowing a stray baby sock. My reader has now presented the new parents with their very own net lingerie washing bag. I love it when people glean helpful household hints from their friendly neighborhood murder mystery writer.

On Sunday morning I received a treasure, a long letter from a woman named Robin. She’s my age and a retired school psychologist from New York City. She wrote to say how much she loved my books. Because of the Joanna Brady books, she and her husband had actually visited Bisbee. She loved Ali Reynolds’s Sedona, and she’s hoping that some day she’ll be able to visit J.P. Beaumont’s Seattle. She said she also really liked the way my books approached social issues. The things she had to say were so complimentary that they made my head swell a bit, but then I noticed something. She hadn’t mentioned a word about the Walker Family books, my least read series. So I sent her a letter of introduction to those. I’m going to post it here. It’s a story I may have told before, but that’s the thing about stories—some of them improve with age. If you’re not interested, you’re welcome to stop reading at this point, but here’s the reply I sent her:

Dear Robin,

Thank you so much for writing, and I’m going to tell you why.

In the late sixties and early seventies, I was a K-12 librarian on the Tohono O’odham Reservation west of Tucson. Almost thirty years after leaving there, I sat down to write the first of my five Walker Family books. Since you didn’t mention them in your note to me, you may not be familiar with them, but in writing them, I put the stories and legends of the Desert People, ones I had learned as a storyteller on the reservation, into the background of the books. As I was writing the first one of those, a book called Hour of the Hunter, I remember telling someone that I hoped to make life on the reservation come alive for the “little old lady from upstate New York who would never visit Arizona.” (Please remember I was a lot younger then than I am now! ?)

The book came out in the early nineties to no great acclaim, but it remains one of my favorites,. Years passed, and I ended up writing four more books in that series. Shortly after the fourth one, Queen of the Night, was published in 2010, I was invited back to the reservation to do a book signing at the tribal museum in Topawa. I agreed, but I was very nervous. By then I had been away from there for decade I felt my books had been true fo the Desert People and their traditions, but I had no idea how the Tohono O’odham themselves felt about them.

When we pulled into the museum parking lot on a cold, blustery Saturday morning, I was astonished to see that the parking lot was studded by cars with out-of- state license plates, because my snowbird fans had seen the event posted on my website and had made the 150 mile round trip to see what it was all about.

At the beginning fo the event, after the Medicine Man’s invocation, a group of young people came out to do a circle dance. The emcee noted that, because the circle dance is a sacred one, we were advised to not take any photos, but, he added, once it was open to social dancing, we were welcome to join in. As a tall, blonde, Anglo woman, I had always felt like an outsider on the reservation, but as I watched the circle dance I felt I was truly accepted. When the emcee announced the social dancing, I stood up and went down to join the circle. As I did so, and to my utter amazement, the Desert People gathered there gave me a standing ovation. Joining hands with the other dancers in the circle was the high point of my writing career, and the thought in my head at the time was that it couldn’t get any better, but then is did because all those Milgham women there, the snowbird Anglos from those out-of-state cars, came down and danced in the circle, too. As I wrote those words just now, a wave of gooseflesh went down both my legs! Because I had done it. I really did make reservation life come alive for people who, otherwise, would never have known anything about it.

Your letter today made me realize that, without being consciously aware of it, I’ve instinctively done the same thing in my other books as well, bringing to life what I learned by living and growing up in Arizona—in Joanna Brady’s Cochise County, in Ali’s Sedona, and in J.P. Beaumont’s Seattle. Thank you for doing that. It means more than I can say.

I hope you will come to Seattle to visit some day. September is usually glorious, although I’ve never seen the leaves in New England in the fall. And this summer, when it was 108 in the shade of our back porch at 6 PM, it was a real shock to the system. Fortunately for us, only a week and a half earlier, we’d had our twenty year old heating and cooling system complexly replaced.

So thank you for being that eponymous “little old lady (LOL wasn’t a thing back then) from upstate New York” even though you clearly live in New York City. And thank you even more for writing such a lovely letter to tell me so.

And thank you, too, for talking about my treatment of troubled children and marginalized people. Yes, there are bad people in the world, but even in writing murder mysteries, it’s important to focus on the good.

With grateful regards,

JAJance

This should be proof positive that I really do answer my emails!

That’s what I sent, and it worked like a charm—she’s now ordered the Walker Family books.

And that’s why this blog is entitled The Rhinestone Cowboy, because that’s what I feel like when I read those comments on the blog or the emails people send.— like Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy, “getting cards and letters from people I don’t even know. And offers coming over the phone.”

Believe me, some of them are real treasures.

73 thoughts on “Rhinestone Cowboy

  1. I read the Walker series along with J.P Beaumont, Joanna Brady, and Ali Reynolds. I never had any of the hardcopy books because I can no longer read print books. I never even saw these books in any of the libraries where I worked for 30+ years.
    Through the blessing of audiobooks via Overdrive at the library, I have been able to keep ‘reading’ and downloading from home (even before the pandemic).
    What a blessing.
    And I learned cursive writing in 3rd grade, but it is a struggle to do that now, too.
    I am thankfull for a computer and also a spelling and grammar program called Grammarly (I still have to correct some spelling and grammar.)

  2. I recently mentioned your blog to my father, I was surprised he hadn’t already found it himself. My parents and I are big fans and read up all your books, including the Walker series. I even have one of your books of poetry, my mother bought it for me when you were doing booktalk in Ontario, Canada. A friend recently started a Facebook group for book lovers, my first post on it is about you, that anyone who likes a good murder mystery needs to check out your books.

  3. Your recollection about the circle dance those many years ago touched me. Unlike you, although on a grander circle, just like you, I was at a camp in Africa four years ago. As one of those touristy things, our group was introduced to drums during an evening’s social time.

    When our hosts began drumming, I tried my best to follow their lead. I did not get a standing ovation, but I did get appreciative smiles from the resident musicians.

    Because all humans are traced to Africa, I, too, was back home.

    Goosebumps, indeed.

  4. As a Tucson snowbird ( I’m not fond of the winter visitor term now in vogue) I found Hour of the Hunter in our Voyager library & loved it. It taught me so much about the local Indiginous people & have since read all 5. I learned so much. Wish I had been to your book reading but I hadn’t discovered your blog at that time.

  5. Gr8 blog. Hdd down to old town Bisbee next week to see my younger sisters and see my nephew get married … my spelling and grammer proably make you cringe. But I am trying to get into 21 century in my life and your blogs [run on sentance] and books are enabling me to do so. Thanks for positivity U exude thru ur writings. Chuck from Tacoma. Also as an asside drove Shuttle for Shuttle express and may have hauled u and bill to belltown.

  6. I am sorry to hear that Bill has not been feeling well. I hope he is doing better. I remember his kindness. I wanted to share with you that yesterday was the ten year anniversary of my grandmother, Gloria Gray’s death. It does not seem like it has been that long, but sadly it has. Her daughter, Donna, found your reference to her in the novelette in the back of the Remains of Innocence. It would have made her day to see that. Of course for us as a family it touched out hearts. Thank you.

    Tracy

    • Dear Tracy,

      I can tell you still feel the loss. By the way, I can do a fairly good imitation of her voice when she answered the phone at California Eastern Laboratories. Thank you for writing.

  7. Well, your blog just did it for me…..I ordered Hour of the Hunter. ?. I have loved your other series but never picked up a book from The Walker Family series. It is arriving tomorrow!
    Also, I identified with your mention of grocery shopping. Because of my husband’s health, for over a year we had Publix delivery groceries or I would order them and pick them up in the parking lot. A month ago I started going to Publix and shopping in person and it was like a gift!! One thing this pandemic has done for me….made me appreciate things that I used to take for granted. I’m anxious for the pandemic to end but I hope I retain that appreciation!
    I’m really enjoying your blog. ?

  8. I am a long time reader of your books starting with J.P.Beaumont. I believe I heard you speak at a signing at Powell’s bookstore. My daughter asked me why I was going & I told her that I needed to see the person who created these great characters. Your characters have brought me hours of enjoyment-they are so fleshed out. I also love that they change& grow. Thank you for hours of delightful entertainment. When I read your books now I feel like I am returning to a favorite neighborhood.

  9. Thanks for this post. I was unaware of the Walker family books. So now I will read them. I have two friends who lived and worked on what was then the Papago reservation. I wonder if they have read these books. I will check.

    I have avoided writing about my life on a Paiute reservation – except in one blog. I look forward to seeing how you handle the experience of writing about a different culture.

    So you were the librarian?!? How long were you there? You did not say. And how did you end up on the reservation in the first place and why did you leave? Too personal?

    I envy you your letters from your mother. I was in graduate school far away in Washington DC before I got one from my mother. I treasured them, And was so envious of other girls who got regular letters from their mothers when they were away from hone.

    Thank you for this lovely post.

  10. I have read all 5 of the Walker family books and found them very intriguing. Being part Alaska Native I enjoy reading stories that help us learn not only the traditions of a Nation but also some of their history. Thank you

  11. The only book of yours that I don’t have is the ‘poetry’ book. I don’t remember the order that I’ve read them and I love them all especially the Beaumont series. (Actually, I think I’m in love with Beau.) But of all your series I believe that the Walker series is the most powerful, sometimes a little difficult to read.. The stories of the Tahono O’odham were captivating. I’m from Skokie, Illinois. It is a suburb of Chicago. I’ve actually been to Sedona and although I haven’t been to Bisbee, I have been to Tucson and Phoenix. My grandparents moved to Tucson when they were in their 70s and are now buried there. Seattle is on my bucket list. My husband was a voracious reader and after he passed away I was going through his many books and was moved that one of yours was in his collection. That we both read the same book gave me goose bumps. Maybe eventually one of your book tours will take you to Chicago. I can only hope.

  12. How apropos! I am sitting in a parking lot in Rapid City SD, charging our electric car before we head up the mountain to the Crazy Horse monument. The man who envisioned this monument wanted something that Native American children could look at and see a hero just like themselves.

    Just as you were warmly welcomed to the book signing by the T’Ohono -I feel it is important to respect our First People. We can learn much from Native Americans-and I certainly have. I am so glad to have read the Walker Family Series.

  13. I have been reading your books for many years. I first discovered you when someone in my book club shared a bid from a Joanna Brady books about Joanna’s mother and Tupperware.
    Since I have read all of your series up to date except Ali Reynolds. A month or so ago I aquatinted myself with Ali. I have been binge reading and I am up to Book 9, “Moving Target”. I have become so involved that have become somewhat suspicious of my environment. I’m wondering is that Amazon delivery guy is really from Amazon … anyone can put on one of those blue scarfs. Maybe that package he is delivering is simple a way of securing a tracking device. I get very nervous when someone asks me to help bring in the groceries from the trunk of their car. Might this just a ploy to get me close enough to push me in. With all that is happening in the world, I am seriously thinking of getting a taser gun.
    I love your books. I figure I will be caught up with Ali by the time your next books comes out. Keep writing.

  14. Great introduction and now I will read The Walker Family series too.

    Re: The LOL from New York that has visited Bisbee…..one of the emails I thought I had sent had a question and a hope.

    It would be great for someone in Bisbee and in Seattle to know all your books and have a tour of those cities to point out what happened where in those books. Maybe places are fictional but also maybe based on real places you have know. ex – where did the Viet Nam vet and his dog live by the church across from the penthouse condo; where did the nosy newspaper woman live; where is the hotel up the steep steps; where did the car accident happen that cost the detective his legs….HA. Still would be a fun trip down your books memory lane.

    LOL – Little Old Librarian – Rolla

    • That’s a great idea- When my husband and I visited Bisbee in honor of Joanna Brady, we stayed at The Copper Queen Hotel- It really exists!
      Numerous characters visiting Sheriff Brady for one reason or another have spent time there as guests-

  15. Loved today’s newsletter. I lived in Blaine, WA and Seattle long ago. Loved when the mountain ‘was out’!

    I miss the West now and at 85 I will no longer drive out from ‘flyover’ country. However, I scour the bookstores and book sales for your writings! Keep on with the good works!

    • I’ve been able to order many audio-books from the Book stores on the internet-
      Lots of JA Jance novels-

  16. When my son was going to the University of Washington he would go into The Doghouse looking for JPBeumont. That is how real your characters are!! Thank you for years of reading pleasure!! From my whole family!!

  17. You need to get to New England ( especially Maine ) in the fall to see the leaves. I had only visited Maine ( where my dad grew up ) in summer, usually August. When my mother died and our parent’s gift to the U of Maine was made, my sisters and I ( and Leslie ) went to Maine and the University in October. Even though Maine is the Pine Tree State, there are plenty of trees that turn colors! I was amazed.

  18. Love anything you write…have read all your books and anxiously await the next one. Living in Tucson I love when places I know are mentioned, i.e “Triple T”

  19. I’ve never visited Washington State or Arizona but I’ve got ideas of what they are like from your books. I live in the south now but as my father was Navy, I lived on coasts growing up (Hawaii too). As an adult I lived in Washington DC area for a long time, Florida, Scotland, and now North Carolina. Not sure where I’m going with this except that I love reading your blog posts and books (need to look up Walker Family) and enjoy your descriptions of places I’ve never been. Oh and one more thing, I’ve started sending out Valentine cards instead of Christmas cards and usually add a quote of love or good thoughts. For some reason these cards are really enjoyed. And in the bleakness of many dark things going on, I like that it lifts people up. Anyway, thank you for your weekly letter home.

  20. I love all your Joanna Brady books. I have read all them at least four times already . I hope there will be more Joann Brady’s. The character is great for women who have a somewhat hard child to adult life . It comes out that she came out on top to have a great family and work life. That what I get from it. They are joy and exciting from page to page. I could not put them to stop reading.
    A great fan of yours

  21. Your words at the beginning of this post hit deeply as I thought of my own mother and how hard she worked bringing up 5 children, losing one who was a “blue baby”. I didn’t appreciate when young how much all that entailed and I wonder how she managed the money, putting all the meals on the table including great spreads for holidays when everything was finished cooking at the same time, keeping us all clothed and presentable – I could go on and on. So crying a little with appreciation and loss – she died in December 2009. I started with Beau, finally after years moved on to Ali and now I see I will have the treat of reading about the Walker family. I worked for 21 years in the Children’s Library in Portland and it was so rewarding – figuring out what the question really was and then finding the resources to help the patron find the answers. Sorry this is so long winded – clearly you touched a deep well inside me.

  22. When a new book comes out I always order it. Then, I have a whole circle of people that I have introduced you to here at Venture Out in Mesa, Az. The book gets read by that circle of friends then I donate it to the library!

    I love all your characters. But, I have to admit that I have not read the Walker series. Now that you have explained the background, I will definitely get the series, circulate and donate!

    Love the Blog, look forward to it. Thanks

  23. The first time I lived in Tucson (Golf Links Road) I heard about the Papago. When we became snowbirds and built a house in Oro Valley I discovered they had disappeared only to find out they changed their name. I prefer Papago.

    • Tohono O’odham means Desert People–their traditional name. The Akimel O’odham, the Gila, are the River People. Papago came from what the Spaniards called them and had something to do with eating beans.

  24. I read all the Walker family books twice and loved them. Wish there were more. When we drove through the Tohono O’odham reservation on one of our vacations it felt very familiar to me. I made my husband drive so that I could keep looking all around. I think Joanna will always be my favorite but the Walkers are running a close second.

  25. I got goosebumps, too, reading this blog…and I want you to know that I love the Walker books and hope there is at least one more coming!
    Thank you, Judy, for bringing all your locations to life

  26. Thank you for the many hours of enjoyable reading. I am always excited when you release a new book.
    I especially appreciate your profiles of good people facing difficult problems. I was touched by the description of Bobby’s Alzheimer’s and how courageously the family supported each other. )Getting old isn’t for sissies, as you clearly know.)
    I strongly related to the comments in this blog about shopping during the pandemic. Our son has been our personal shopper, and I find it impossible to accurately project a list that accurately describes exactly I want! But I am improving!

  27. I’ve read all the Walker books, including Dance of the Bones. Loved them all, but Kiss of the Bees is my favorite. In fact I’ve read all of your books, except the last three of the Ali Reynolds series. Have loved every one.

    I sympathize with you about personally buying groceries. Because I’m in a wheelchair & with a comprised immune system my husband is the one who goes to the store. He is not fond of fruit & does not do a good job picking out the best. The peaches I ask him to get last week didn’t even smell like peaches, hard as a rock, Whitehall told me that our grocer was not treating them properly. The blueberries were fabulous, however. He does pick great veggies.

  28. Hi! Just read today’s blog. I didn’t know anything about the Walker Family books! So, went to my library and put Hour of the Hunter on reserve!!

    I love all your other books, so can’t wait to read this series.
    Living in Arizona I can relate to a lot of the places!

  29. My sister and I are two Canadians who appreciate your books so much. They have been our solace from COVID. We are both on our third reading… one for every phase of COVID, I suppose. We listen to them on audio books, so it is good to go back to listening to them at night as a calming factor. Inevitability we miss portions as we fall asleep during certain portion, so listening again is almost like the first time again. I also put my head phones on and go for long walks, listening again, so I don’t miss anything.

    We love your books because in addition to being a mystery, it is full of family lore and people, places, and events we are familiar with. For example, I have only spent one weekend in Seattle, Washington, and yet, believe or or not my Vancouver friends who I went to Seattle with were friends with the owner of Mamas Mexican restaurant. Not only did we enjoy an authentic Mexican meal (which is impossible to find in Canada it seems) but the owner of the restaurant refused to take or money at the end of the meal. What a treat! We also hung out with a musician names Denny, who called himself Denny Regrade.

    I also relate to Beaumont in a couple of ways, (not the alcoholism thankfully.) However, I do crossword puzzle every days and avoid the daily news. I have had two knee replacements.

    I was impressed with what you had said in your last blog about Pointillism. I had just been thinking the week before that blog, that your books are filled with so many elements that it is like painting, or a gestalt. That is one reason my sister and I can reread your books so many times.

    The only problem is, we are less impressed with so many other authors, we have a hard time finding books we like as much as yours. Even though you have some gory elements, these are off-set by such the warm and life-like characters and their interaction.. We both think that the reason your books are so realistic is that (1) you are an excellent observer of human nature. (2) you have a good sense of humour (3) you have had experiences in real life that you can bring to your stories, so the plots are plausible (4) you do your research, watching forensic shows, which we also enjoy, by the way, seeing how science can solve mysteries (5) your detectives seem real, my sister worked in law offices in California for 40 years, and she did comp cases for homicide officers very often, and sees your detectives as being very realistic. (6) your love of the geography of the regions you write about bring the plots to life. I like to have an atlas at hand while reading.

  30. Hi Judy, your words brought a memory of my mother who sat down to write at least one letter every day after we had gone to school and my dad was off to work. She died when I was in my twenties and this memory brings a tear to my eye. Miss her more now than ever.
    Will look for the Walker books. . .

  31. Dear Judy,
    Thank you for this essay. I have loved the Walker family mainly because I see so many similarities in our lives. I love your other books too but find the story lines in the Walker family and Joanna Brady closer to me. When I first moved to Seattle, the Beaumont books helped me better understand this city. The life insurance company where I worked had a little library of books by you and Ridley Pearson — it really was a busman’s holiday that we all were avid mystery readers.
    I still have not been in a grocery store since the lockdown in March 2020 — my car died, then I tripped over my daughter’s dog and shattered my arm, and my trips have been to the hospital, doctor’s offices, and to wait in line to get my vaccinations. Have been out to lunch with friends once, and finally got to go to a meeting at church because I have been dubbed the “church insurance guru” and contracting specialist.
    Like you, am from a large family with a very Norwegian mother, taught school near a reservation in Montana, was a social worker who worked with tribal authorities for dependent children. Girl Scouting was always a part of my life from being a Brownie to Senior Scouting and being an assistant leader. Have lots of Sioux cousins in South Dakota and wonderful memories of spending time on the ranches of my aunts and uncles.
    Thank you for hours of reading pleasure. Hope you are having an enjoyable grocery trip — my daughter is my conduit via my grocery list. just realized that i forgot to add coffee creamer oh well, milk will have to do for now.
    Sincerely,
    Karen I Ford

  32. Oh my, I’m getting verklempt reading today’s post. I’m a little old lady from Wisconsin who has been a snowbird for the last few years in Green Valley, AZ. Hubs and I love the Joanna Brady books. Some of the places we visited last year were specifically because you mentioned those locations. So not only is there that, but we also taught for 10 years on the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. I was the short, blond anglo woman in my case. Anyway, I think I need to start reading the Walker series. And thanks for giving me the Rhinestone Cowboy ear worm!

  33. Dear Judy:
    I’m in your age group, maybe a few years older, plus a care-giver to my 92 yr. old husband. I love reading and probably have read almost all your books. I’ve read the Walker family books and found I learned a lot about the Native customs and culture. We have visited the Crazy Horse Monument in SD and all they are doing to represent all Native tribes in our country. I just received their latest newsletter and realized your books made me appreciate and understand the Native culture so much more.

  34. I am in the process of reading Ali Reynolds for the third time. Will have to find the last three books on Amazon I guess although I have gotten them from the library and read them. Reading your books, and I have them all, is like sitting down to a favorite tv show with no commercials and a tub of Rocky Road ice cream and just pigging out. I have lots of relatives in Arizona, but none around Bisbee. Keep on keeping on and take care of yourself and Bill. We need you in our lives.

  35. I noticed that near the end of “Hand of Evil” Leland Brooks, one of my favorite characters, is dressed in a rhinestone-studded cowboy outfit- Wonderful- (Ali Reynolds series)
    More and more I am intrigued by mention of The Desert people- I received an email advising me that the Walker series will arrive tomorrow- Very exciting-
    Next time we are in Arizona we plan to visit the reservation-
    Please accept wishes for Bill’s good health-

  36. Your Walker series was one of my favorites. I never read them before going to bed or I couldn’t sleep.
    After this blog I think I will reread them.
    ???
    Yes upstate NY is beautiful in the fall. My town is
    infamous for the Mafia Bust in 1957.

    • Living in Staten Island, we regularly have Mafia-related incidents, and quite a few of the Top guys are buried in the same cemetery where my Mother-in-law and father-in-law are buried- May they rest in peace- (My in-Laws)
      (Staten Island is one of the Five boroughs of NYC)

  37. Kiss of the Bees was my first introduction to you. I loved the book and I learned so much about the Indian culture. That book still sticks with me. That book led me to your blog.

  38. My favorite series has always been JP Beaumont but I do like Joanna Brady too. I have tried to read Ali Reynolds 3 times and I can’t past the first book. It is not that I don’t like it but I don’t feel the connection with her as I do the other two. Then I haven’t read any of the Walker clan but I do want to try.
    When I was a much younger women I was in a book store and they had a few books with a tag on them that said written by a local writer. That is when I discovered you….and Earl Emerson. I was hooked. I plan on trying Ali again. Maybe I need to read the second one! Thanks for writing!

  39. Well, it’s a good thing that I read your Friday blog posts religiously! I never knew about the Walker Family books. Ordered the first one (hard cover) today! Can’t wait for it to arrive!

    I love your Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds series….because I like reading about good strong women who solve crimes.

    It’s also so nice to get the inside scoop from you and for us readers to know there is a real person behind all your terrific novels.

    Take care and stay safe!

  40. When my friend Pamela recommended your books years ago I read them in order of publication, regardless of the series. I love all the books, but the Walkers are my favorites and I hope someday there is another! I really like the way you’ve integrated modern technology into your plot lines, in ways that ordinary readers can still comprehend. Stu Ramey and Cami Lee are my computer gurus! Saw you speak in Monroe, OR, at the lovely new library there. Out on the lawn because the people who came didn’t fit into the meeting room!

  41. I’ve been saving the Walker series for an emergency; its good to have something I know will be satisfying in reserve.

    Laughing about your “going to Safeway” treat – we went to the grocery store for the first time since March 2020 and decided we didn’t miss much, except the impulse buys. And good fresh peaches.

    Take care,

    ceci

  42. I very much enjoyed your Walker family series. I’m from Arizona (grew up in Tempe, lived in Phoenix) and very much liked all of your books set there because you know whereof you speak. I live in Silver City, NM now ( minor character in one of the Joanna Brady books). My last job in AZ was at Scottsdale Community College, which is bordered by the Tohono O’odham lands there. Quite a shock to go from upscale Scottsdale to the farms there.
    I get what you mean about going to the store. Right now my husband does all the shopping because I’m the one with health issues (and I’m also short, which can put me at a disadvantage among anti-maskers) and I do miss it sometimes. Impulse buys can be fun.

  43. Visited Bisbee for the first time in a couple of years. The jeep tours now feature a JA Jance/Joanna Brady tour. We didn’t take it, but I wondered if you get a commission from the tours. Was it $75 per person? You could be rich off of them!
    Ron and I have become full time Rivers. I told him I don’t want to just drive on freeways as we travel, so we took a really back way from Tonto Basin to Bisbee and came upon High Lonesome Road. I could never remember where it was. I was tempted to follow the jeep tour to see where they really take people.
    I became interested in the restoration of the stained glass windows at St. Patrick church. Fascinating. I took the self guided tour inside and was truly moved by the windows and their story. I can’t believe how little we knew about the amazing architecture and various styles available in our own home town. I lived across the street from St. Pat’s and the court house and just they were fun places to play at and to ride our bikes by.
    I hope this will let me include a picture of myself at the cemetery in weeds higher than my waist. Not your height, but 5’8″.

    • Twila, so good to hear from you! As I told your niece (I think) on Facebook, the last time we saw each other in person was in Sierra Vista. I’m glad the Lavender Jeep Tours continue–no, I do not get a cut.

      • I did take the Lavender Jeep Tour and it was great fun. The driver went to school with Judy and had lots of interesting tidbits to share. I wondered what Judy thought of this and was going to ask her at her Voyager book signing, but she mentioned him in her talk, so I knew he was legit & does a good job. You ought to go to Bisbee again, just for that tour!!

  44. Letters from home. Unfortunately that seems to be a lost art today.

    My husband and I had a long distance romance for two years and traded letters back and forth thoughout those years. I would rush home from work to check my mail every other day, execting the next epistle from him.

    My grandfather would write letters to me after he moved far from my home. Each of his letters started with a capital Dear and had no punctuation until the end love your grandpa. (Yes, that is an example his way to write.) But inside that long, long sentence that made each letter are some of my greatest memories. I miss them.

    After reading today’s post perhaps I need to go check out the Walker series again. I began the first book, but it didn’t “grab” me. Maybe now it will. Thanks!

    • Yes, writing via snail/mail is indeed a lost art- When I was away in College from my home in NYC, I was homesick in Madison, Wisconsin- I wrote numerous letters to my parents- My mother saved them , but never wrote me back- Knowing that other mothers actually wrote to their off-spring saddens me, as it would have been very comforting had my mother ever responded- Once I called home and said to my mother: ” I guess I’m feeling depressed-” She became very angry, and said, “I don’t have time for this!” Many years later I understood that she was psychotic, which she handled with the “Cocktail Hour” every evening- My father was the loving parent- Yet he did not believe that parents should write to children- “Children should write to parents- Parents do not write to children-”
      He seemed to operating according to a Victorian mindset! In other ways he was
      wonderful-

  45. My parents were stationed in Germany with the military while I was in college in Portland and later, Seattle. Every week mom wrote me a newsy letter (which took a week to reach me across the miles) and I wrote back every week. Phone calls were not an option in our frugal family unless it was to notify one of a death. Especially overseas phone calls. I wish I’d saved her letters. When my daughters were in college, I wrote to them even though we were in the same country, just not the same state. They didn’t write back much and cell phones were new inventions then so we didn’t have them yet. But I was following my mom’s footsteps in thinking “this is what moms do when their kids are far away”.
    Thanks for the reminder from my past. You are my favorite author and one of the very few whose books I read again years later.

  46. Bravissima!
    I am saving a rereading of Hour of the Hunter for a time when I can read it in great long swaths, and not too fast. It is a pleasure to be savored.

  47. I loved this. I have always liked the Walker series, and l read it a long time ago with my husband. I enjoyed your talking about it when you came to Austin and talked at the library. Thanks for doing that.

  48. My brother-in Law in California is a Forensic Pathologist- His main criticism of murder mysteries is that the pathologist inevitably cites a “Time of Death-”
    In reality, this does not happen unless there is actually a witness, or some technology that records it- You, Ms Jance, are on of the very few mystery writers whose novels do NOT feature a pathologist who pinpoints a “Time f Death!”
    Much more realistic-

  49. I love the walker family stories! I like all your stories but the walker family is my favorite series! I was wondering when your fans will see a new one in the series? Thanks for all your hard work! Deirdre M. Heffernan

  50. Reading these comments I am amazed at the variety of your readers. They are old, young, retired or not, dead tree fans or audio books users. You should be so proud than you have fans of all kinds. I have to add shapes and sizes, too.

    Beau is my favorite. Yesterday I re-read “Ring in the Dead” the novella that tells of Beau’s first case working as a homicide cop with Pickles Gurney. It’s such a good introduction to Beau.

    I’ve visited Tucson several times as have relatives there, but don’t like the heat and lack of trees. Grew up in Central Iowa and like green things around me.

    .

    • Yet Europeans who visit Tucson ask, “Where is the desert?”
      There is so much that is green in the Sonora Desert- The many Cacti are all green-
      The Desert trees- Of course it is not like New England, with the dark green of Elm, Maple, and Oak- Some people long for that- I completely understand that feeling as I live in the North East and am always thrilled when the trees turn green-
      But I found the Sonora vibrant and alive with plants and animals- I feel very deprived if I don’t get to experience it every few years- I am sad about the drying up of the Monsoon Season in Arizona, and the drought throughout the West- Will the Saguaros survive? Also, if you have never been in Tucson in the Spring, you have not seen the burst of flowers that cover the Desert- I urge you to try it!

      • Robin, one of my trips to Tucson was in a February and I agree that flowers are beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to live there year around.

        • I probably wouldn’t either- But I would like to spend time there every year- The desert clearly affects me in a different way than it does you-

  51. After reading the letter from your friend, I will now order the Walker books. I love the desert anyway and that’s why I was crazy about the Joanne Brady stories.
    Thanks for being an awesome writer.

  52. I love to read your blog posts. They are mini stories, and I love getting a peek into both your past and your present daily life. I love to read your accounts of how certain events and people made it into your books. It’s always amazed me, how authors can make up a story full of characters that feel real enough that I feel like I’d know them if I met them on the street! Just amazing! I happened across one of your books years ago at a used paperback store while on vacation. I enjoyed it, and used my library to get caught up w/ all of your books. My 2 favorite series are the Beamont and Brady series, although I have read everything you’ve written, and enjoyed them all. I’d love to see all of your blog posts printed and published in a book. I think it would make a great addition to your collection. I would love to see Arizona and Seattle sometime, but living in Mississippi, I doubt I will. So I’m thankful for the stories you’ve told that make the places come alive. I love to read good books, and you are one of my favorite authors, right up there with John Grisham, David Baldacci, and John Lescroart. I love that you don’t put a lot of bad language, blood and gore, and gratuitous sex in your books. I don’t read authors who do. I’m looking forward to your next book. I hope you have a great week! Dawn

  53. After reading your letter, I will definitely read the Walker Family books. I
    had no idea what they were about. My beloved husband took me to the Navajo Reservation to meet the family of a girl we mentored and we went to Sedona many times. He passed away last week and I will always be grateful for the times we were able to travel to the southwest.

    • I have started “Hour of The Hunter-” A true thriller! One thing I love is the inclusion of vocabulary from the Native Language of The Desert People, along with
      the stories and myths which are part of their culture- J.A. Jance is a something of an anthropologist in her own right- She even describes some nuances of the etiquette of the Desert People, quite different from that of Anglos-

  54. I might have told you how I discovered you and your books but I don’t remember. Ann and I were at Kohl’s Ranch near Payson for a week. We picked a week with some bad weather and were snowed in. I was looking for something to do and found a small library of books that had been left for others to read. Found a Brady book and was fascinated by it. I wrote down the name of J A Jance and decided to look it up when I got back to Glendale. That is how I discovered you and your works.

    I have all of your works on my old Kindle. I find it fascinating to see how the people (notice I said people instead of characters) have aged or grownup in the stories. I feel as if I knew or have known them. In the past I have spent a lot of time in airports traveling for the Lions Club and for business. This allowed me to read quite a bit and my reading varies from Coben to Lee Childs to Patterson. I like westerns and my favorite is Elmer Kelton.

    Many years ago I was having lunch with a close friend of the family and we started talking books and I mentioned you. My friend said she had met you. I ask how and when, Nancy replied that you had come into her shop to look at clothes. Nancy owned and operated the Tall Shop in Town and Country shopping center and she moved the shop to north 16th street. Nancy was also a tall woman. Her name was Nancy Walters Bonnar. Unfortunately she died a few years ago. She had a fascinating life growing up in various place around Arizona. Her mother taught at the one room schoolhouse in Castle Hot Springs and her father had a run in with a deputy sheriff and killed him in a gun fight and got off in self-defense. She married Ken, who was 20 years her senior. Ken also was a fascinating person. He was in WW2 and parachuted into Germany. Was a prisoner of war for two years.

    I notice that I am rambling but at my age who cares.

    In your last blog the Walker Family was mentioned and that is why I started this missive. Over the years I have traveled all over Arizona including Ajo, Maricopa and the reservation area. Your insights into the (Papago) Tohono O’odham Nation People are very respectful. I thoroughly enjoyed the Walker series and hope you might want to add some more to our enjoyment.

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