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Literature / Sheriff Joanna Brady

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Sheriff Joanna Brady is the protagonist of a series of mystery novels by author J.A. Jance, centered on the small desert town of Bisbee, Arizona.

Joanna starts out as a mother of a nine-year-old Jenny and the wife of Andy Brady, who runs for Sheriff of Cochise County but is killed before the election and is then accused of being dirty. Joanna runs in his stead, clears his name, and wins the election to become Sheriff, even though she does not have much background in law enforcement. On the one hand, many of the community are not used to having a woman be in a position of power, which makes her job as Sheriff somewhat more difficult, but, on the other hand, her relative independence from the old-boy network of local law enforcement makes it easier for her to clean house there as needed.


Joanna Brady appears in the following novels:

  • Desert Heat (1993)
  • Tombstone Courage (1994)
  • Shoot Don't Shoot (1995)
  • Dead to Rights (1996)
  • Skeleton Canyon (1997)
  • Rattlesnake Crossing (1998)
  • Outlaw Mountain (1999)
  • Devil's Claw (2000)
  • Paradise Lost (2001)
  • Partner in Crime (2003)
  • Exit Wounds (2004)
  • Dead Wrong (2006)
  • Damage Control (2008)
  • Fire and Ice (2009)
  • Judgment Call (2012)
  • The Old Blue Line (novella, 2014)
  • Remains of Innocence (2015)
  • No Honor Among Thieves (novella, 2015)
  • Random Acts (novella, 2016)
  • Downfall (2016)
  • Field of Bones (2018)


Tropes used in the Sheriff Joanna Brady novels include:

  • Clear Their Name: One of the main reasons that Joanna stands for sheriff in the first book Desert Heat is to find out who framed her late husband as a Dirty Cop, and clear his name.
  • Crusading Widow: After her husband Andy is killed, Joanna takes up his mission to become sheriff of Cochise County and clean out the corruption.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Skeleton Canyon, Rattlesnake Crossing, Outlaw Mountain, Devil's Claw. Why does anyone live in Cochise County?
  • New Old West: Joanna is sheriff of Cochise County in Arizona; the jurisdiction with happens to include Tombstone.
  • The Place: many of the novels take their names from locations in Cochise County.
  • Shooting Gallery: Shoot Don't Shoot takes its title from the 'Shoot Don't Shoot' training Joanna receives in the police academy's Hogan's Alley while attending a law enforcement seminar in Tucson.


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