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BREACH OF DUTY: A J. P. Beaumont mystery.
By J. A. Jance

Avon, 1999 (PB)

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Due to a decrease in Seattle's murder rate, homicide detective J. P. "Beau" Beaumont is able to spend some leave time with his grandmother, helping her to scatter his grandfather's ashes as they worked on building a relationship cut off by the estrangement years ago between his mother and her wealthy parents.

Grandmother uses their time together to urge him to move up to higher echelons in the department, or get into another, more respectable profession. Beau tries to explain to her that he is content with his career choice, and has no intention of getting into the politics and game-playing needed to advance in the Seattle Police Department.

He and new partner, divorced mom Sue Danielson, are sent to investigate the death of a 67-year old widow, Agnes Ferman, in a presumably accidental fire. The death turns out to be murder, and over $300,000 in cold cash is found in an old refrigerator in her garage. Who would want to kill this innocent old woman, and where did the money come from? Certainly not from her career as a housekeeper for a wealthy family. Beau and Sue look into Agnes' past, and examine her relations with friends, family, and neighbors finding that she was not as harmless as she'd seemed.

As the case heats up, Sue has to deal with the struggles of single parenthood and the irrational behavior of her ex-husband, while Beau has major conflicts with his new boss and begins to doubt his dedication to the job.

The case is ultimately solved, but there is no happy ending here for any of the parties involved. This is a darker style than Jance's Sheriff Joanna Brady series, but it is just as well-written and enjoyable.

Edcom: This is the 14th title in the J. P. Beaumont series. Normally it is better to start this series with the very first book, in order to get a better understanding and feel for the recurring characters. However, this is a good place to start for new readers if you don't have access to the first books in the series, or if you haven't been keeping up with the series, this is a good place to refresh your memory and jump back into the series.

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