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Book review: 'The A List' by J.A. Jance

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"The A List" by J.A. Jance (Gallery Books, 352 pages, in stores)

A man in prison is seeking revenge on the people who put him there. He's working with someone on the outside to kill them all.

The trouble originated when Ali Reynolds, Jance's protagonist in 14 novels, was working as a TV reporter. She was approached by a woman, Alexandra, with a serious sob story: Her son, conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donor, needed a kidney transplant. The fertility doctor, who was supposed to keep records of such things, claimed the records had been destroyed accidentally. Alexandra's plea was for Ali to help her find a biological relative to save the boy's life.

Ali aired Alexandra's story on TV, and a match was found. But that wasn't the end of the story. Ali, Alexandra and two other women uncovered a dark secret about the doctor, Edward Gilchrist, which led to his arrest and conviction in a cold case: the murder of his ex-wife.

Now, years have passed. The biggest story of Ali's career led to her being fired. She dealt with ageism prejudice. Her husband divorced her. But she rebounded, finding a better husband, undergoing law enforcement training and opening a cybersecurity company.

Gilchrist has spent all that time brooding in prison. He has an "annihilation list" tattooed on his forearm; it's a list of all the people who exposed his crimes, ruined his career and got him incarcerated. The list includes Alexandra's initials ... and Ali's, too. Gilchrist won't rest until all those people are killed. Soon bodies start falling.

Can Gilchrist and his accomplice be stopped?

Jance did a great job writing this book, and you don't have to read the previous novels in the series to understand this one.

Jance's characters are realistic, in part because they face familiar challenges such as divorce, long distance relationships and the hunt for a new career. There are a few twists and turns, and the plot is well thought out.

I enjoyed “The A List,” although I found it a bit too fast paced. I would've preferred a longer novel with more detail about Ali's life, although I guess that's the difference between reading a single novel instead of a whole series. Other than that, Jance's latest is an easy read with no dull moments.

Readers who enjoy thrillers with a touch of crime solving will like “The A List.” It is a page turner with fantastic characters, including an interesting villain, with a protagonist to root for all the way.

— Rachel McLemore, for The Oklahoman

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