The Barnes & Noble Review J. A. Jance has a very easygoing, intimate literary style, which always guarantees a good read so much so, in fact, that it's easy to overlook how fresh and sharply observed her writing is. Too many writers think style is something that needs to call attention to... show more
The Barnes & Noble Review J. A. Jance has a very easygoing, intimate literary style, which always guarantees a good read so much so, in fact, that it's easy to overlook how fresh and sharply observed her writing is. Too many writers think style is something that needs to call attention to itself. Jance, a wily pro, knows better. Her new J. P. Beaumont novel, about an all-too-human Seattle detective, shows just how much of a pro she is. There are two main plotlines here, one dealing with an elderly woman who died alone with $300,000 stashed in her garage; and the other with some kids who stumble upon the remains of a Native-American shaman. Beaumont, being the suspicious type, wonders if the kids know more than they're saying, especially given the hate crimes that have been going on. Jance gives us some bedazzling glimpses of shamanism among Native Americans and ties these cleverly into the story line. Nice plotlines. But what makes them even nicer, what raises them above the too-familiar, is the telling. Right before he died, John D. MacDonald did an interview in which he said that the writers he really admired were not the overnight successes, but rather those whose careers grew slowly and carefully. They learned something with each book, and just got better and better. Judy Jance started out as a very good teller of tales. She also started out with a knack for character and mood. She even took some risks with her hero. He wasn't a white-hatted fuzz complete with all the Dirty Harry mannerisms. He was a real human being. All these books later, Beaumont is even more of a human being because, asJance'stalent has grown, so has her risk-taking. She gives Beaumont the breadth and depth you usually associate with mainstream fiction. Beaumont's problems with his bosses, for instance. Nary a cliché in the whole subplot. Everybody's has bad bosses. You'll sympathize with Beaumont here.