Name Withheld is the 16th book I’ve read by J.A. Jance and one would think I’m a huge fan of her. Granted she is a New York Times best-selling author, but there’s just something about her books featuring Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont that rubs me the wrong way. And it has to do with Jance’s inability to pen a believable male lead character. Beaumont is a macho cop that reminds me of Tom Sellick in Magnum P.I. — except for the fact that he often does and says things that make him look like a pussy. Case in point: Beau, as he’s known, has the worst time with those darn newfangled gadgets like a pager, computer, answering machine or TV remote control. This acknowledged ineptitude and anti-technology rant is constantly repeated to the point where I’m starting to think this old school stud wears Old Spice, sports white Fruit of the Loom briefs and parts his long feathered hair down the middle. Lead character pet peeve aside, I have to admit this book — like its 15 predecessors — is a good read if you like mystery novels. They are definitely not the police procedural you’ll get from Michael Connelly, but the plots are solid and the female characters are at least believable. As the story unfolds, we follow Beaumont around the SeaTac area in his Porsche 928 as he looks for the killer. (Thankfully, Jance can’t have Beau mispronounce the name of his German sports car — Porsche owners use the correct two syllable pronunciation — but she does make old school Beau recite this mind-boggling phrase: “I was sitting in my cubicle using the Ethernet card on my computer to send files to the printer on our local area network….”) There are several twists and turns, and in true Jance fashion, things build to a nice and tidy ending.
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