Cover image for Breach of duty : a J.P. Beaumont mystery
Breach of duty : a J.P. Beaumont mystery
Jance, Judith A.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Avon Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
343 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Jonas Piedmont Beaumont has had it rough all his life. Raised by his hardworking, unmarried mother and disowned as a youth by his grandparents, he learned at a very early age how cruel life can be. Two marriages, a treacherous battle with the bottle, assorted midlife and moral dilemmas, and a few decades as a homicide detective haven't convinced him otherwise. For his gruesome caseload continually reinforces those ugly childhood lessons about the awesome and terrifying cruelty of man.While the more things change, the more they stay the same, the Seattle that beau knew as a young policeman is disappearing around him. The city is awash in the aromas emanating from a glut of gourmet coffee bars, the neighborhood outside his condo building has sprouted gallery upon gallery, and even his long-cherished diner has evolved into a trendy eatery for local Gen X-ers and hipsters. But all the glam is strictly surface, for the grit under the city's fingernails remains caked with blood...When Beau and his new partner Sue Danielson are assigned the murder of an elderly woman torched to death in her bed, Beau finds himself distracted by Sue's difficulties at home. Distraction soon turns to terror as Beau and Sue find themselves caught up in a series of events that will leave them and their carefully constructed investigation shattered. For Beau, nothing will ever be the same again.

Author Notes

Judith Ann (J. A.) Jance was born in Watertown, South Dakota on October 27, 1944. She received a degree in English and secondary education in 1966 and a M. Ed. in library science in 1970 from the University of Arizona. Before becoming an author, she taught high school English, worked as a school librarian on a Native American reservation, and sold insurance.

She is the author of many popular mystery series including the J. P. Beaumont Mystery series, Joanna Brady Mystery series, and the Ali Reynolds series. She won the American Mystery Award for Without Due Process in 1992 and for Failure to Appear in 1993. Both of these titles are books in the J. P. Beaumont Mystery series. In 2014, her fiction book, A Last Goodbye, made the New York Times bestseller list.

Random Acts, a title in A Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds Novella Series, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With Jance concentrating on her Joanna Brady series, it's been three years since we've heard from J. P. "Beau" Beaumont, the Seattle homicide detective who stars in the popular crime novelist's other series. Beaumont is back, singing the blues about Seattle's rampant trendiness and trying to solve the murder of an elderly woman burned to death in her bed. As the trail takes Beau and partner Sue Danielson from trailer parks to private jets, a more immediate crisis looms in the form of Sue's loose-cannon ex-husband. The Beaumont series has a lot going for it: Jance is an excellent plotter, mixing subplots effectively and offering genuine surprises throughout. Oddly, though, Beau himself grows less compelling as this series matures. Hard-boiled by the numbers but liable to spout P.C. dogma at the slightest provocation, Beau has become Philip Marlowe crossbred with Phil Donahue. Whichever Phil you prefer, you're certain to resent the presence of the other. Read this one more for story than character. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his 14th outing (and first in three years), Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont (Name Withheld, etc.) finds, along with his new partner, Sue Danielson, that seemingly ho-hum investigations grow in grim complexity even as personal distractions multiply. The pair has been assigned to investigate the arson death of Agnes Ferman, a woman disliked by just about everyone; the more than $300,000 found tucked away in her garage points to plenty of suspects. In Seattle's Seward Park, meanwhile, a group of costumed, role-playing teens have been using human bones in their games. Beau is warned that the bones may be those of Quinault shaman David Half Moon, and that anyone handling them is in grave danger. Beau scoffs, but when some of those associated with the investigation meet violent ends, he and Sue develop open minds. Adding texture to the doings are Sue's troubles centering around the sudden reappearance of her violent ex-husband, who, uncharacteristically, wants to take their sons on a dream trip to Disneyland. A coincidence‘that most of the Seward Park suspects regularly congregate at one of Beau's haunts‘stains the narrative, but otherwise Jance, as usual, relates a clean and tightly woven plot distinguished by authentic dialogue, honest emotions and characters readers will care about. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In Jance's 14th J.P. Beaumont mystery, the Seattle police detective investigates the death of an elderly woman burned in her bed and a series of incidents related to an apparent curse on the stolen bones of a Native American shaman. The former is complicated by the $300,000 discovered in the woman's refrigerator and the latter by the inference of Beaumont's peevish new commander. The investigation of the shaman's curse is highly entertaining, and Jance, as usual, paints a vivid picture of life in the Pacific Northwest, but she slows down the action too often with supposedly enlightening insight into the characters' personal lives: Beaumont's continuing recovery from alcoholism, the death of his grandfather, his partner's violent ex-husband, the terminal illness of another policeman's wife. Jance juggles the various elements unsatisfactorily, seemingly forgetting the initial murder for a long stretch. A children-in-danger element is more unpleasant in audio than in print. Gene Engene's gruff reading, however, perfectly fits Beaumont's world weariness. Recommended only for the largest popular collections.ÄMichael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Breach of Duty Chapter One There are people who like change. There are even a few who thrive on it. That's not me. If it were, I wouldn't have reupholstered my ten-year-old recliner, and I wouldn't resole my shoes until they're half-a-size smaller than they were to begin with. When I move into a house or, as in the present case, into a high-rise condo, I'd better like the way I arrange the furniture the first time because that's the way it's going to stay until it's time to move someplace else. In fact, my aversion to change probably also accounts for my Porsche 928. George Washington's axe, with two new handles and a new head, probably doesn't have much to do with our first president. And my replacement Porsche doesn't have a lot of connection to Anne Corley, the lady who gave me the original. Still it's easier to hang on to the one I have now out of sentimental reasons than it is to admit that I just don't care to make the switch to a different car. In other words, I'm a great believer in the status quo. It also explains why, on the Monday morning after Beverly Piedmont and I drove home from Lake Chelan, I came back to work expecting things at Seattle PD to be just the way they had been. And to begin with, there was no outward sign of change. Sue Danielson and I walked into our cubicle to discover a yellow Post-it note attached to the monitor of the desktop computer we share when we're in the office as opposed to the laptops we're supposed to use in the field. "See me," the note said. "My office. Nine sharp." There was no signature. On the fifth floor of the Public Safety Building, no signature was necessary. Captain Lawrence Powell has never made any bones about hating electronics in general and computers in particular. His idea of surfing the net is to go around the Homicide Squad slapping Post-it notes on every computer in sight. Sue sighed. "What have we done now?" she asked, glancing at her watch. At 8:02, there was no reason to hurry to Larry Powell's fishbowl of an office. If we were going to be chewed out for something, I'm of the opinion later is always better than earlier. "Who knows?" I said. "But remember, whatever it was, I was out of town most of last week, so it can't be my fault." "You'd be surprised," Sue returned. Sitting down at the desk I removed the note and turned on the computer. In typical bureaucratic fashion, when the department finally decided to create a local-area network and go on-line, they bought computers from the lowest possible bidder. As a consequence, they take for damned ever to boot up. I tapped my fingers impatiently and stared at the cyberspace egg timer sitting interminably in the middle of an otherwise blank blue screen. "Probably has something to do with that well done smoker who set herself on fire last Tuesday," I suggested. "Oh," Sue said. "That's right. I forgot. You missed it." I didn't like the sound of that "Oh." My antenna went up. "Missed what?" I asked. "Marian Rockwell's preliminary report." Marian Rockwell is one of the Seattle Fire Department's crack arson investigators. "Agnes Ferman's death is no longer being considered accidental," Sue continued. "Marian found residue of an accelerant on Agnes Ferman's bedding." Smokers die in their beds all the time -- in their beds or on their sofas. As far as I was concerned, arson seemed like a real stretch. "What did she do, dump her fighter fluid while she was refilling her Zippo? Right. The next thing you're going to tell me is that Agnes Ferman is Elvis Presley's long-lost sister." Sue scowled at me. "Don't pick a fight with me about it, Beau," she said. "I'm just telling you what Marian told me. You can believe it or not. It's no skin off my teeth either way. It's all there in the report I wrote up Friday morning." Squabbling with my partner in the face of an imminent and possibly undeserved chewing out from the captain more or less took the blush-off the morning. Up till then, it had seemed like a fairly decent Monday. "So what else did you do while I was gone?" I asked. "On Ferman? Not much. I counted and inventoried all the money and..." "Money? What Money?" "The three hundred some-odd thousand in cash we found hidden in a refrigerator in Agnes Ferman's garage. I had planned on starting the neighborhood canvass and talking to her next of kin, but counting that much cash takes time. Agnes has a sister who lives up around Marysville and a brother -- and sister-in-law in Everett. That's about all I know so far. I haven't had a chance to track any of them down. The same goes for neighbors. Marian interviewed some of them -- the one who reported the fire -- but so far nobody's really canvassed the neighborhood." Cash or no cash, homicides come with a built-in timetable. A murder that isn't solved within forty-eight hours tends to not be solved at all. As with any rule, there are exceptions, but the chances are, the longer a case remains unsolved after that deadline, the worse the odds are that it will ever be cleared. Next-of-kin and neighbor interviews are where investigations usually start. The fact that no interviews had taken place so far wasn't good. Furthermore, since my whole purpose in life is to see that killers don't get away with murder, I wasn't the least bit pleased by the seemingly unnecessary delay. "Great," I fumed. "That's just great. Our case goes stale while all those concerned stand around twiddling their thumbs." Sue shot me an icy glare. "I don't suppose you watched the news when you were east of the mountains." Breach of Duty . Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Breach of Duty by J. A. Jance All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.