Review: Blessing of the Lost Girls by J.A. Jance

Publisher’s Book Description

Driven by a compulsion that challenges his self-control, the man calling himself Charles Milton prowls the rodeo circuit, hunting young women. He chooses those he believes are the most vulnerable, wandering alone and distracted, before he strikes. For years, he has been meticulous in his methods, abducting, murdering, and disposing of his victims while leaving no evidence of his crimes—or their identities—behind. Indigenous women have become his target of choice, knowing law enforcement’s history of ignoring their disappearances.

A cold case has just been assigned to Dan Pardee, a field officer with the newly formed Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s Task Force. Rosa Rios, a young woman of Apache descent and one-time rodeo star, vanished three years ago. Human remains, a homicide victim burned beyond recognition, were discovered in Cochise County around the time she went missing. They have finally been confirmed to be Rosa. With Sheriff Joanna Brady’s help, Dan is determined to reopen the case and bring long-awaited justice to Rosa’s family. As the orphaned son of a murdered indigenous woman, he feels an even greater, personal obligation to capture this killer.

Joanna’s daughter Jennifer is also taking a personal interest in this case, having known Rosa from her own amateur rodeo days. Now a criminal justice major, she’s unofficially joining the investigation. And as it becomes clear that Rosa was just one victim of a serial killer, both Jennifer and Dan know they’re running out of time to catch an elusive predator who’s proven capable of getting away with murder.

Thrilling Reads Review

In “Blessing of the Lost Girls,” J.A. Jance masterfully combines characters from two of her long-standing series into a standalone narrative, creating a riveting serial killer crime mystery. This book introduces a new generation from both families, making it accessible to newcomers while still satisfying longtime fans.

The story centers around Federal agent Dan Pardee, now part of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force (MIP). The discovery of an unidentified burned body in Cochise County, identified two years later by new dental records, sets the stage for a complex investigation that intersects with Joanna Brady’s jurisdiction. It is Joanna’s daughter, Jenny Brady, a criminal justice major, who provides critical information for the case.

As Pardee delves deeper, he uncovers a horrifying rodeo connection linking the killer to several missing girls. He soon realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer who targets marginalized girls and skillfully covers his tracks. The novel’s strength lies in its meticulously crafted plot, which leads readers through a suspenseful journey to an exhilarating conclusion. The revelation of the killer’s identity early in the story does not diminish the narrative’s intensity but rather adds to its urgency.

Jance’s portrayal of Dan Pardee is particularly notable. His Native American heritage and unwavering dedication make him an intriguing and fitting lead for the MIP. The potential collaboration with Jenny Brady in future narratives is a tantalizing prospect, left intriguingly open-ended.

The novel also stands out for its chilling depiction of the serial killer, whose proficiency is terrifyingly realistic. Jance’s focus on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women lends the story a topical and poignant edge.

I found “Blessing of the Lost Girls” to be an enthralling and thought-provoking read. Its focus on contemporary issues, coupled with a compelling plot and complex characters, makes it a standout addition to the crime mystery genre.

The marketing as a Brady and Walker book may be confusing, since it’s not really part of that series, just set in that universe (brief mentions of those characters) but the novel’s quality stands on its own, with Dan Pardee deserving a spotlight in future narratives.

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It's safe to say that Alan Petersen loves mystery and thriller books. He writes high-octane thrillers, hosts the MEET THE THRILLER AUTHOR podcast, and reviews thriller/mystery books.

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