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Breach of Duty

Breach of Duty by J.A. Jance

Reviewed by L. Bennett

I grew up in Seattle, a city squeezed between 32 mile-long Lake Washington on the east and Puget Sound on the west. Its business district squats on reclaimed tidal flats and perches along the slope of a ridge overlooking Puget Sound. Residential neighborhoods range from seedy developments erected for wartime housing and urban renewal projects, to high-class mansions on scenic ridge tops. You can track the city's residential expansion by the architectural style of its neighborhoods and the condition of the houses. Like most cities it has its share of domestic violence, theft, and murder. All three categories of illegal behavior factor into Breach of Duty, written by J.A. Jance and published in 1999.

In Breach of Duty the cops are investigating a murder-arson, handling sacred Native American bones, looking into a cult of costumed Halloweenies, and the usual tidbits you'd expect from a big city. Beaumont and his partner find themselves scraping their eyebrows from their hairlines when they find links between two apparently unrelated cases. And his partner faces a very hard time when she fails to take seriously the effects of handling the bones of a shaman. In the end the two key cases are solved but the Beaumont jinx lives on. So our hero makes a sudden career change that opens the door for Jance to steer into uncharted territory.

This book is in Jance's series of mystery novels featuring Seattle Police Dept detective J.P. Beaumont. But don't let that deter you from picking up this volume; each book stands alone without the need of pre-knowledge. I like them because I can picture where the action is taking place, or at least can fool myself into thinking that Seattle has changed so little that I can imagine the settings (probably a false assumption). J.P. is an action-oriented fellow not fond of paperwork and departmental protocol. While that attitude gets him in hot water with his superiors, it goes a long way toward a fun, readable, fast-paced, and sometimes improbable story line.

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