MOVING TARGET – J.A. Jance
An Ali Reynolds Mystery, Book 9
Austin, Texas and Bournemouth, England – Present Day
It's just one month before seventeen-year-old Lance Tucker gets out of the San Leandro County Juvenile Justice Center for hacking into his school's computer system. Instead of sitting through GED classes, which he aced, the teacher lets him decorate the Christmas tree in the recreation hall. His mom is losing her house to pay his restitution; her hours were cut back at work, and it's entirely his own fault. While considering what has happened to his life, someone grabs him, uses the spray can of glue on his legs, and lights a cigarette lighter.
Ali Reynolds is with her eighty-something friend Leland Brooks—who is her cook and has the general running of her household down pat—on their way to England to meet with the family he hasn't seen for the past sixty years. It took B. Simpson, Ali's fiancé, to arrange the flight for them with his extra airline miles and to get over the tricky part of getting Leland a passport. B is the owner of High Noon Enterprises, a high-tech security company, along with his partner Stuart Ramey, the computer guru.
B, Ali's fiancé, feels all sorts of guilt when he finds out what happened to Lance Tucker, since it was High Noon that the school district used to find out who hacked into their computer system. But the teenager had the book thrown at him, and now it is highly suspicious when he is severely burned just before getting released from the Juvenile Center. It is definitely not an attempt at suicide, despite the security cameras in that area of the center being “broken” that day. Meanwhile, LeAnne Tucker is in the hospital while her son is in a coma, and her life is falling apart. B calls on Stuart to help prove Lance didn't try to kill himself and also to support Leland and Ali while they are in England. It is only through the magic of computers and smart phones with encrypted software that B can be in charge of both cases while in meetings in Shanghai. Detective Richard Hernandez of San Leandro's Sheriff's Department was the officer to arrest Lance, and LeAnne has a hard time believing he will go out of his way to help find out who tried to kill her son.
I am familiar with J.A. Jance's stories from years ago, and looked forward to MOVING TARGET. Ms. Jance does not let you down in the intricate details of her story and the part each person plays that intertwine the story together. Ali Reynolds helps her fiancé B in the running of his security company, and since this is my first story about her, Ali and B's ages are not given, but Ali has grandchildren, so they have a relationship that has endured several years together and is built on communication and respect. B is integral to the story, and yet as he is away at meetings it is Stuart, the company's computer expert, who tries to find out the information about Leland's past. Stuart appears to be almost always awake and able to find out almost anything they need. Leland is a gentleman of the old school, grateful to be given this chance to connect with his family again and yet scared of what he will find. Together, each person weaves his or her part of the story together. Lance's story is also told as his mother LeAnne must deal with his coma after the fire, and the condition of his leg. Her life couldn't get much worse, and it is only the help of her mother Phyllis that she can get through each day, until they are also threatened by whoever toyed with Lance's life.
Secondary characters come and go in MOVING TARGET. First there is Leland's grandson Jeffrey and his partner Charlie. This is important because Leland always believed that it was his own homosexuality that was the reason his older brothers Langston and Lawrence convinced their father to disown him all those years ago. Leland's two aunts are still alive and don't even think it is important that Leland know his father was killed after Leland left the country. Also helping Lance back in Texas is Sister Anselm, a nun with a Taser, and his mother LeAnne, keeping watch until Lance is out of his coma.
MOVING TARGET has two stories, what happened to Lance, and will he survive his awful burns, and Leland's return to England. Lance's story is told as B tries to put the pieces together of who and why someone wanted a teenager out of the way so bad they would try to kill him, and Leland, whose father might have also been killed all those years ago, and maybe by someone close to him. Humming with suspense and never ending action, MOVING TARGET hits the bull's-eye for mystery lovers this month.