Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Review - The A List

Title:   The A List
Author:  J.A. Jance
Series:  Ali Reynolds #14
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Publisher:   Gallery Books
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  352
Date of Publication:  April 2, 2019
My Rating:  5 Stars

In the next “devilish page-turner” (People) from New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance, Ali Reynolds learns that no good deed goes unpunished.

More than ten years after the abrupt end of her high-profile broadcasting career, Ali Reynolds has made a good life for herself in her hometown of Sedona, Arizona. She has a new house, a new husband, and a flourishing cybersecurity company called High Noon Enterprises, where her team of veritable technological wizards hunts down criminals one case at a time.

But the death of an old friend brings Ali back to the last story she ever reported: a feel-good human interest piece about a young man in need of a kidney to save his life, which quickly spiraled into a medical mismanagement scandal that landed a prestigious local doctor in prison for murder.

Years may have passed, but Dr. Edward Gilchrist has not forgotten those responsible for his downfall—certainly not Ali Reynolds, who exposed his dirty deeds to the world. Life without parole won’t stop him from getting his revenge. Tattooed on his arm are the initials of those who put him behind bars, and he won’t stop until every person on that Annihilation List is dead.

In this gripping suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author praised for her “inimitable, take-no-prisoners style” (Kirkus Reviews), Ali Reynolds and her team race against the clock to stop this ruthless killer—before her own name is crossed out for good.


Ali Reynolds had a successful broadcasting career. But she had good reason to retire ten years ago. Life has been good to Ali. Not only does she have a new husband, but they have a growing cybersecurity business. Saddened by the news of the death of an old friend brings Ali's old career front and center. Not only is Ali traumatized due to the death of her friend, Ali herself may be in danger. 

The story that started it all was due to an Dr. Edward Gilchrist, an uncouth fertility expert who was using his own semen in his practice. The book of donors he and his second wife provided to prospective mothers was fabricated from yearbooks of various years. It was when a desperate mother whose son needed a kidney transplant pursued Ali while she was in broadcasting to strive and discover the paternity of her son in order to find a donor. Upon investigation, and the successful location of a donor, it was shockingly discovered that Gilchrist was actually the father. 

After the successful transplant, Ali and some parents in common formed something called the Progeny Project to try and find anyone else inseminated by Gilchrist. Meanwhile, it was proven that he murdered his ex-wife and was sentenced to a life in prison. Gilchrist devised a heinous revenge plan, and set up the (A)nnihilation List. Anyone connected to his sentencing he wanted to have killed. Ali was on that list.

What a story! Superb on every level. Sadly, the story was based on real-life cases when doctors actually supplied their own sperm during these procedures. So, fact and fiction make for a marvelous blend in this compelling story by J.A. Jance. Told in both the past and present in tragic detail, this story excels in pacing and storytelling. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

Many thanks to Gallery Books and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


I started writing in the middle of March of 1982. The first book I wrote, a slightly fictionalized version of a series of murders that happened in Tucson in 1970, was never published. For one thing, it was twelve hundred pages long. Since I was never allowed in the creative writing classes, no one had ever told me there were some things I needed to leave out. For another, the editors who turned it down said that the parts that were real were totally unbelievable, and the parts that were fiction were fine. ᅠMy agent finally sat me down and told me that she thought I was a better writer of fiction than I was of non-fiction. Why, she suggested, didn’t I try my hand at a novel?

J.P. Beaumont series book number 1, Until Provent Guilty, by J.A. Jance.

The result of that conversation was the first Detective Beaumont book, Until Proven Guilty. Since 1985 when that was published, there have been 21 more Beau books. My work also includes 17 Joanna Brady books set in southeastern Arizona where I grew up, 11 Ali Reynolds books, set in Sedona, AZ, and five novellas.ᅠ In addition there are five thrillers, starting with Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, that reflect what I learned during the years when I was teaching on the Tohono O'Odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona.

The week before Until Proven Guilty was published, I did a poetry reading of After the Fire at a widowed retreat sponsored by a group called WICS (Widowed Information Consultation Services) of King County. By June of 1985, it was five years after my divorce in 1980 and two years after my former husband’s death. ᅠI went to the retreat feeling as though I hadn’t quite had my ticket punched and didn’t deserve to be there. After all, the other people there were all still married when their spouses died. I was divorced. At the retreat I met a man whose wife had died of breast cancer two years to the day and within a matter of minutes of the time my husband died. We struck up a conversation based on that coincidence. Six months later, to the dismay of our five children, we told the kids they weren’t the Brady Bunch, but they'd do, and we got married. We now have four new in-laws as well as six grandchildren.

When my second husband and I first married, he supported all of us–his kids and mine as well as the two of us. It was a long time before my income from writing was anything more than fun money–the Improbable Cause trip to Walt Disney World; the Minor in Possession memorial powder room; the Payment in Kind memorial hot tub. Eventually, however, the worm turned. My husband was able to retire at age 54 and took up golf and oil painting.

One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that everything–even the bad stuff–is usable. The eighteen years I spent while married to an alcoholic have helped shape the experience and character of Detective J. P. Beaumont. My experiences as a single parent have gone into the background for Joanna Brady–including her first tentative steps toward a new life after the devastation of losing her husband in Desert Heat. ᅠ And then there’s the evil creative writing professor in Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, but that’s another story.

Another wonderful part of being a writer is hearing from fans. I learned on the reservation that the ancient, sacred charge of the storyteller is to beguile the time. I’m thrilled when I hear that someone has used my books to get through some particularly difficult illness either as a patient or as they sit on the sidelines while someone they love is terribly ill. It gratifies me to know that by immersing themselves in my stories, people are able to set their own lives aside and live and walk in someone else’s shoes. It tells me I’m doing a good job at the best job in the world.

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