Hour of the Hunter (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #1)

Hour of the Hunter (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #1)

by J. A. Jance

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A critically acclaimed master of suspense, J. A. Jance, the New York Times bestselling author of Fire and Ice, transports readers into the beauty and mystery of the American Southwest . . . and into the very heart of terror.

The hunter is free to kill again—and hour by hour, he draws nearer . . .

The brilliant psychopath Andrew Carlisle spent only six years in prison for the brutal torture–murder of a young girl of the Tohono O'odham tribe. The testimony of Diana Ladd—a teacher on the reservation—put Carlisle behind bars, and now she can't ignore the dark, mystical signs that say a predator has returned to prowl the Arizona desert. Because no matter where Diana and her young son hide . . . he will find them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061945380
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/29/2010
Series: Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series , #1
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 171,746
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

J. A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series, and five interrelated thrillers about the Walker family, as well as a volume of poetry. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.


Bellevue, Washington

Date of Birth:

October 27, 1944

Place of Birth:

Watertown, South Dakota


B. A., University of Arizona, 1966; M. Ed. in Library Science, University of Arizona, 1970

Read an Excerpt

Hour of the Hunter
A Novel of Suspense

Chapter One

The room was square and hot, and so was the man sitting at the gray -- green metallic desk. Sweat poured off his jowls and trickled down the inside of his shirt. Finally, Assistant Superintendent Ron Mallory yanked open his collar and loosened his tie. God, it was hot -- too hot to work, too hot to think.

Through his narrow window, Mallory gazed off across the green expanse of cotton fields that surrounded the Arizona State Prison at Florence. It was June, and irrigated cotton thrived beneath a hazy desert sky with its blistering noontime sun. Maybe cotton could grow in this ungodly heat, but people couldn't.

Ron Mallory hated his barren yellow office with its view of razor ribbon -- topped fences punctuated with guard towers. The view wasn't much, but having an office at all, particularly one with a window, was a, vast improvement over working the floor in one of the units. Mallory didn't complain, but all the while, he busily plotted his own escape.

Assistant Superintendent Mallory had no intention of working in Corrections forever. It was Friday. Maybe sometime this weekend he'd find some time away from Arlene and the kids to work on his book. There was a wall in Chapter 11, some kind of story -- structure problem that made it impossible to move forward.

He took another swipe at his forehead with a damp paper towel and waited for a guard to bring Andrew Carlisle into his office.

"Damn legislature," he told a fly that sauntered lazily across the stacks of file folders on his desk. Why couldn't those idiots down in Phoenix find money enough to fix theprison's damn refrigeration units? The air -- conditioning always went on the fritz the minute the temperature climbed above 110.

Buildings in the capitol complex in Phoenix were plenty cool. He'd damn near frozen his ass off when he'd gone there as part of the official delegation begging the legislative committee for more prison money. They'd as good as said it didn't matter if it got hot for the prisoners. After all, "Prisoners were supposed to be punished, weren't they?"

"What about the guards?" Warden Franklin had countered. "What about the other people who work there?" "What about them?" the committee had said. They didn't give a shit about the worker bees. Nobody did.

Irritably, Mallory slapped at the fly, but it eluded him and flew over to the window just as Mendez, Mallory's assistant,knocked on the door and put his head inside the sweltering office. "Carlisle's here," Mendez said.

"Good. Send him in." Ron Mallory mopped his brow, knowing it wouldn't do any good. His face would be sopped with sweat again within moments. God, it was hot!

Ron Mallory had conducted hundreds of prerelease interviews in the time he'd held the job. There was a standard protocol. Where are you going to stay? What kind of work do you have lined up? But this wouldn't be a standard interview, because Andrew Carlisle wasn't a standard prisoner.

As soon as the guard led Andrew Carlisle into the room, Mallory noticed that even in this terrible heat the man wasn't sweating. Guys who didn't sweat usually pissed Ron Mallory off, but he liked Andrew Carlisle.

"Is this when I get the 'go-and-sin-no-more' talk?" the prisoner asked good-humoredly.

Carlisle eased himself into a chair in front of Mallory's desk without waiting for either an order or an invitation. Between assistant superintendent and prisoner, there existed a camaraderie, an easy give-and-take, enjoyed by no other inmate in the Arizona State Prison.

Ron Mallory appreciated Andrew Carlisle. Intellectually, he was several cuts above the other prisoners. Carlisle conversed about politics, religion, philosophy, and current events with equal facility and enthusiasm. Under the guise of working together as inmate clerk and warden, the two men had carried on six years' worth of wide-ranging discussions, exchanges that made Assistant Superintendent Mallory feel almost scholarly.

"That's right," Mallory responded with a chuckle. "'Go and sin no more.' Couldn't have said it better myself. I'm sorry to see you go, though, Carlisle. Once you're gone, who's going to keep this office in order, and who'll help me finish my book? How about screwing up and coming back for a return engagement?"

"I won't screw up," Carlisle declared.

Mallory nodded seriously. "I'm sure you won't, Carlisle. You've more than paid your debt to society. As far as I'm concerned, you never should have been here in the first place. Don't quote me, but if every poor bastard who ever killed or fucked a drunken Indian got sent up here, we'd be more overcrowded than we already are. That judge in Tucson just got a hard-on for you. The important thing now is for you to put it all behind you and get on with your life. What are you going to do?"

Andrew Carlisle shrugged. "I don't know exactly. I doubt the university will take me back. Ex-cons don't quite meet the hiring and tenure guidelines."

"It's a damn shame, if you ask me," Mallory said. "You're one hell of a teacher. Look at what you've done for me. Here I am on Chapter Eleven and counting. I'm going to finish this damn book, dedicate it to you, and buy my way out of this hellhole of a dead-end job, and you're the one making it possible."

Carlisle smiled indulgently, waiting in silence while Mallory studied the contents of the file folder in front of him. "Says here you plan to go back to Tucson. That right?"

Andrew Carlisle nodded. "I'll hole up in some cheapo apartment, maybe down in the barrio somewhere."

Hour of the Hunter
A Novel of Suspense
. Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

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Hour of the Hunter (Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd Series #1) 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
grateful65 More than 1 year ago
This book is over 10 years old. I usually enjoy Jance novels, but in this one, the plot was predictable and the characters weren't all that interesting. It did keep me interested enough to read through on a very long plane ride, but I was glad that I got if for free. Also about half way through, the spell check/usage check must have turned off - the word "that" was replaced with "mat", etc, and many sentences just didn't make sense. Annoying
bookmajor More than 1 year ago
I had not heard of this author before, I must have gotten it as a free or discounted choice for my Nook. Once I opened it, i couldnt stop reading! A recently released killer returns to the scene of the crime to exact vengeance on the people responsible for putting him behind bars. Diana Ladd is the widowed mother who must keep her family safe from the killer. (Her husband's death is part of the plot!) To add to the fun, Jance weaves Native American folklore into the text. There is some graphic violence in the book, but probably not more than any other scary novel, probably less than most.
gfp1947 More than 1 year ago
I love stories that deal with the culture of the Native American tribes. Jance blends some of the Papago myth with a great yarn about a crazed killer out for revenge from the person who got him sent to jail. The writing is good, but unfortunately the last 50+ pages had a lot of typos. It seemed like there may have been a proofreader who got bored. This unfortunately took away a lot of the enjoyment towards the end. Still, definitely worth a read.
Deb-H More than 1 year ago
I enjoy J.A. Jance's mysteries & discovered this series with the 4th book. I decided to go back & buy the other books in this series. I like the character development, the native american tales, and the story. There is some rather gruesome violence, but all in all, I recommend this book for murder mystery lovers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hour of the Hunter truly was not a Beaumont or Brady story line, I have read all of the Beaumont and Brady books this year, and I was so dissapointed in the Hour of the Hunter, It was very diffilcult to follow, The Indian Legends at the beginning of each chaper was hard to follow, and make relate to the story. The story was also hard to follow with the legends stopping the story flow. The Kiss of the Bees was the same, I would not recommend either of these books to the fan of Beaumont or Brady.
onyx95 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For six years Diana Ladd had hoped having Andrew Carlisle in prison was enough to keep them safe. After the tragedy that took her husband, her unborn child¿s father reputation and life from them all she could do was find a way to carry on. Raising the child (a boy named David) had been a little easier when the strange bond had formed with Rita Antone. The grandmother of the women Garrison Ladd had been accused of murdering had held no grudge, surprisingly to everyone involved she grew to care for the Ladd family as if they were her own. Finding that Gary¿s co-conspirator was out of jail reminded them all of the mouthed words he had spoken to a very pregnant Diana Ladd on the day he went to jail. He was coming after her and none of them were safe, no matter what Detective Brandon Walker, the lead detective, had said about justice all those years ago. Book 1 ¿.. A suspense to the last of it, with the bad guy / killer showing his ugliness early on in the book, it is full of descriptive horrible acts. While the depravity is abundant from the evil characters, the generosity of heart and self is apparent in others. This story has several time periods that it covers, it bounces from the 60¿s (and before) to the ¿current¿ which takes place in the mid - 70¿s. Not only does it cover the history of Diana and her family through memories of first meeting and marrying Gary to the time of the murder, but it also includes the history of Rita who is a Papago Indian. The Indian culture is very prominent in the book, including several legends and folklore about the animals, the weather and the lands of the Tohono O¿otham as well as other peoples. While the legends are interesting, sometimes it does distract from the story, they left me wondering from time to time what they were included for and other times I could see a link. I liked Brandon Walker and Diana Ladd enough to be interested in the next book of this series, Kiss of the Bees, from what I understand is set 20 years after this one (making it all the way to the 90¿s).
addunn3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boy and mother are involved in murder from the past in the context of Indian mythology. Fairly good plot with a really BAD, BAD guy!
pmtracy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of J. A. Jance for some time, but I just started reading her Walker series. I received a pre-release copy of Queen of the Night to review, but realized there were several other books in the series so I'm catching up, starting with Hour of the Hunter.There is a definite distinction between this book and her others. While this is still set in Southern Arizona, it takes place in the mid-70's. There is also a tighter integration of native peoples into the story line, particularly the Papago. This includes a prelude to each chapter of a Papago mythology story that foreshadows the contents of that chapter. It was a nice touch and this draws the obvious likening to Tony Hillerman's works.While a bit slow to start, I was surprised by the break-neck speed of the plot development in the later half of the book. I've found her other series to be paced with an even placement of action peaks and valleys. In this book, you're racing through the last half to see how it ends. This might be her most action-packed novel yet.I also enjoyed the relationship of the two main characters; Diana and Rita. These are two women of different generations, culture and social standing that have established a supportive relationship fallen out of a terrible tragedy. It is only barely accepted by those around them, but it serves them well in the end.Since Jance's books are so dependent on plot, it's difficult providing a thorough review of her works without including too many spoilers. To keep it simple, if you like any of her other series, you'll like this one as well.
DBower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by this author I have read and truly enjoyed it. A killer returns out for revenge. The story is strong, the characters (and relationships between character) are wonderful, and the infusion of stories from indian culture create a great backdrop, Although a bit slow in the beginning, it became very hard to put down. Definitely worth the read.
Overthehill More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected from Jance. I've read all the Joanna Brady series and most to JP Beaumont series but this is a departure from what I have enjoyed in the past from this author. Too graphic and just plain weird.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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lousquared More than 1 year ago
Suspensful and engaging, story about a killer released from prison out to get revenge on those that sent him there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
retiredsc More than 1 year ago
The author keep jumping from one family to another. You had to read several sentences before you figure out who she is talking about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brenda Davidson More than 1 year ago
This was my favorite of J.A. Jance! I LOVE all her books and story lines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Kens_Puffin More than 1 year ago
I'm extremely disappointed in this book. I won't be continuing this series. I love the Brady series and the Beaumont & Reynolds series are also good but this time J.A. Jance misses the bar completely. I thought at first it was just me because I don't care for flashbacks in movies or books but I see I'm not the only one that finds the writing style hard to follow. Yes, the Indian folklore is necessary background as are the character flashbacks but the book doesn't flow. It's disjointed and the characters themselves just don't grab hold of you. They aren't boring but they don't have that special element that makes you want to find out what happens to them next. I've read a lot of books that were hard to get into but once you did you couldn't put it down however, this isn't one of them. I'm more than halfway and I'm still waiting for it to grab hold of me, to become that page turning, can't put down thriller. I hate not finishing a book but this one is simily a lost cause.
AllisonNH More than 1 year ago
The typos were horrible, completely distracting. Do they bother to proof read the ebook editions at all??
Brooks_P More than 1 year ago
I have real mixed emotions about this book. I have not read any books by J. A. Jance and was not even aware of the author's name. Unlike some of the other reviewers I enjoyed the Papago legends interlaced throughout the book and was reminded of the many Tony Hillerman books I read and enjoyed many years ago. I did not find the book any more graphic than some of the other books I have read from authors like Jeffrey Deaver or James Patterson. I thought the story moved along at a good pace although it was a bit predictable at times. Like grateful65, I too found all of the typos annoying and several times I couldn't come up with a clue as how to interpret the typo and make sense out of the sentence. The constant typos, especially near the conclusion became frustrating. This is not the first eBook that I have read that had typos, but it certainly is a worst case and for that reason I was torn as how to rate this book and in the end I subtracted a star for the poor transition to eBook.
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