Cover image for Birds of prey : a novel of suspense
Birds of prey : a novel of suspense
Jance, Judith A.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2001]

Physical Description:
390 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Alden Ewell Free Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Collins Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Elma Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
East Aurora Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A survivor of childhood trauma, two marriages, twenty hard years with the Seattle Police Department, and the bottle, Jonas Piedmont Beaumont has spent far too much time trolling the darker waters of human nature. In the wake of a devastating professional tragedy, he has decided, at long last, to pull the pin. But there is no safety in semiretirement for a man who, long ago, chose to make a violent world his home.

Temporarily at leisure, Beau has agreed to chaperon his newly wed grandmother on her honeymoon cruise to the Gulf of Alaska. His time aboard the Starfire Breeze is meant to be an enjoyable diversion, a respite to allow some deep psychological wounds a chance to heal in the bright sun and clear, crisp northern sea air. It also places him squarely in the sights of a feisty group of middle-aged divorcées.

But death is everywhere, even at sea. Beau's brief idyll is abruptly shaken when one of his new admirers, mysteriously disappears -- and is shattered when a security videotape shows her taking a fatal fall overboard. Like it or not, the burden of investigating a heinous crime is once again on Beau's shoulders. And this one is carrying the seasoned detective into uncommonly dark and dangerous waters. Adrift a thousand miles from home, J. P. Beaumont suddenly finds himself submerged in a terrifying conspiracy that, if allowed to proceed unchecked, could have disastrous consequences, not only for Beau and his shipmates, but for the future of the world they all hope to return to.

In Birds of Prey, J. A. Jance masterfully demonstrates her rare and winning ability to combine riveting suspense, intelligence, vivid color, and poignant humanity into one magnificent whole. No one in her field is better at exploring mortal strengths and frailties while exposing the complex shades of evil that can shroud the human soul.

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

Jance took several years off from her J. P. Beaumont series to concentrate on her more popular Joanna Brady novels, and since returning to action, J. P. has been a changed man--for the worse. First, in Breach of Duty (1999), the formerly hard-boiled Seattle cop started sounding like a veteran of one-too-many sensitivity classes, and now his transformation from Philip Marlowe to Phil Donohue seems complete. Forget the mean streets; Beaumont has been reduced to starring in a classic cozy set on a cruise ship! It gets worse. Beaumont is onboard the Starfire Breeze, cruising Alaska, as a companion to his honeymooning grandmother. Yes, it's a senior-citizen cruise, and there's all variety of cute byplay between the frisky seniors, until the bodies start piling up. It seems there's a crackpot onboard intent on killing doctors whose medical breakthroughs save lives. Beaumont sorts it all out before the ice sculpture on the buffet table has a chance to melt, but not soon enough for those who enjoyed this series back when it offered no-frills, hard-boiled fare. The new Beaumont will appeal to those who know Jance from the relatively cozy Brady novels, but J. P.'s old fans best look for a new drinking partner--unless they like the idea of bending elbows with Phil Donohue. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Those who found Jance's previous suspense thriller, 2000's Kiss of the Bees, too strong to stomach can rest easy, as this latest is a crowd-pleaser featuring her series character J.P. Beaumont. The retired Seattle homicide detective has joined a luxury cruise to the Alaskan glaciers at the request of his honeymooning octogenarian grandmother, who fears there may be mischief aboard. The unattached middle-aged women at his table assume Beau is along to land a rich widow or divorce. Beau soon finds he has to be particularly wary of the group's formidable ringleader, Margaret Featherman, whose surgeon ex-husband has invented a procedure that vastly improves the lives of brain-damaged patients. When the ship's video monitor later catches Margaret falling to her death off the stern, the only witness is Alzheimer's patient Mike Conyers, who noticed that Margaret's mouth was taped shut. Beau starts a murder investigation centered on Leave It to God, a religious organization whose members believe that "God put sickness and disease on this earth as a lesson in suffering for everybody" and so disapprove of Dr. Featherman's work. When during a port call someone pushes Mike off the back of a mountain railway car, it seems more than coincidence. Jance, author also of the Joanna Brady series, uses the leisurely pace of the cruise for her hero to reexamine past wounds as well as to display his customary dry wit. Travel buffs and Jance fans are in for a great mini-vacation. 5-city author tour; simultaneous HarperAudio and Harper Large Print edition. Agent, Alice Volpe of the Northwest Literary Agency. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Retired Seattle cop J.P. Beaumont accompanies his newlywed, eightysomething grandmother and her crusty hubby, Lars Jenssen, on an Alaskan cruise to act as a chaperone of sorts, but no one expects murder served up with the tony cuisine. The jaded protagonist is inadvertently forced to masquerade as an FBI agent when Dr. Harrison Featherman's shrill blonde wife Margaret is tossed overboard, and the crime is captured on ship security cameras. A group of religious extremists calling themselves "Leave It to God" appear to be targeting Featherman, along with his colleagues and patients, aboard the Starfire Breeze for a conference. As J.P. learns of the weirdly convoluted family dynamics among the Feathermans and their close friends, he realizes that numerous passengers had motives for killing Margaret. Throughout this 15th installment (after Breach of Duty), new readers and series fans alike will appreciate this sardonic and mature narrator's appeal. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/00.]--Susan A. Zappia, Paradise Valley Community Coll., Phoenix(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Birds of Prey A Novel of Suspense Chapter One The blonde fixed me with an appraising eye that left me feeling as defenseless as a dead frog spread-eagled on some high school biology student's dissection tray. "And what do you do?" she asked. When the headwaiter had led me through the cruise ship's plush, chandelier-draped dining room to a round table set for six, four of the chairs were already occupied by a group of women who clearly knew one another well. They were all "women of a certain age," but the blonde directly across from me was the only one who had gone to considerable effort to conceal the ravages of time. I had taken one of the two remaining places, empty chairs that sat side by side. When I ordered tonic with a twist, there was a distinct pause in the conversation. "Very good, sir," the waiter said with a nod before disappearing in the direction of the bustling waiters' station, which was directly to my back.For the better part of the next five minutes the conversation continued as before, with the four women talking at length about the generous divorce settlement someone known to all of them had managed to wring from the hide of her hapless and, as it turned out, serially unfaithful ex-husband. The general enthusiasm with which my tablemates greeted the news about a jerk being forced to pay through the nose told me I had fallen into an enemy camp made up of like-minded divorcées. So I wasn't exactly feeling all warm and fuzzy when the ringleader of the group asked her question. The fact that I was on a heaving cruise ship named Starfire Breeze pitching and bucking my way into Queen Charlotte Sound toward the Gulf of Alaska did nothing to improve my disposition. With little to lose, I decided to drop my best conversational bomb. "I'm a homicide detective," I told the women mildly, taking a slow sip of my icy tonic which had arrived by then. "Retired," I added after a pause. I had put in my twenty years, so retired is technically true, although "retired and between gigs" would have been more accurate. However, it didn't seem likely that accuracy would matter as far as present company was concerned. So retired is what I said, and I let it go at that. Over the years I've found that announcing my profession to a group of strangers usually cripples polite dinnertime small talk. Most people look at me as though I were a distasteful worm who has somehow managed to crawl out from under a rock. They give the impression that they'd just as soon I went right back where I came from. Then there are the occasional people who set about telling me, in complete gory detail, everything they know about some obscure and previously unsolved crime with which they happen to be personally acquainted. This tactic always serves to turn dinner into an unpleasant parlor game in which I'm set the lose/lose task of coming up with the solution to an insoluble mystery. No winners there. Surprisingly enough, the blonde took neither option A nor option B. Instead, she gave me a white-toothed smile that was no doubt as phony and chemically augmented as the rest of her. "My name's Margaret Featherman," she announced cordially, standing and reaching across the table with a jewel-bedecked, impeccably manicured hand. She gave me a firm handshake along with an unobstructed view of a generous cleavage. "These are all friends of mine," she chirped. "We went to college together. This is Naomi Pepper, Sharon Carson, and Virginia Metz." As she gestured around the table, each of the women nodded in turn. "The four of us are having our annual reunion. And you are?" Margaret prompted, resuming her seat. She had a gravelly voice that made me want to clear my throat. I pegged her as a smoker or maybe an ex-smoker. "Beaumont," I told her. "J. P. Beaumont." I didn't voluntarily elaborate on the Jonas Piedmont bit any more than I had on my employment situation. Nothing was said, but she frowned slightly when I said my name, as though it displeased her somehow. It occurred to me that maybe she had been expecting to hear some particular name, and Beaumont wasn't it.Although the other three women had been chatting amiably enough when I first arrived, now they shut up completely, deferring to Margaret Featherman as though she were the only one of the group capable of human speech. Whatever it was that had disturbed Margaret about my introduction, she regained her equanimity quickly enough. "Now that we're out from behind Vancouver Island, the water is a little choppy," she allowed a few seconds later. "I suppose your wife is feeling a bit under the weather." She gave a helpful hint by nodding pointedly in the direction of the empty chair beside me. "I'm a widower," I said. Again, that wasn't quite the whole story. If a wife dies in less than a day, is her husband still legitimately a widower? And if a first wife dies years after a divorce and it still hurts like hell to lose her to the big C, are you not a widower then? After all, Karen and I may have been divorced, but we had two children together and were still connected in a way no legal document could ever quite sever. Even now I'm surprised by how much her death continues to grieve me. Maybe if I were still drinking, I'd be in such an emotional fog that I wouldn't notice. But I'm not, so I do, and that wasn't any of this nosy broad's business, either. "My wives are dead," I added brusquely. "Both of them." So much for winning friends and influencing people. I expected the comment to shut her... Birds of Prey A Novel of Suspense . Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Birds of Prey: A Novel of Suspense 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.

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