Betrayal of Trust
J. A. Jance
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" . . . a high wire balancing act performed without a net."
A well written police procedural with a few devious and effective twists.
Ron Connors, Washington State’s attorney general, has called in J. P. “Beau” Beaumont and his wife and partner, Mel Soames, to investigate what appears to be a murder. The possible suspect is Governor Marsha Longmire’s step grandson, Josh Deeson, a teenager living with the governor and her husband, Gerry Willis, who has just had heart bypass surgery.
Connors wants his A team to handle the investigation outside the normal channels to keep the media out of the case as long as possible, and because the governor especially asked for Beau.
The case seems cut and dried. The governor found Josh sneaking back into the governor’s mansion via rope ladders to his third floor room. When she confiscated Josh’s cell phone, she found a snuff film. The girl murdered on the video is strangled with a blue scarf by two different phone while someone filmed her death, and everything is about to get very sticky.
It is difficult to write a mystery, especially a police procedural, and not hit the usual marks. Unorthodox team, political implications, circumstantial evidence, following the trail of evidence and suspects, and the reveal. J. A. Jance hits all the right points and still manages to take the story off the grid and into the wild in Betrayal of Trust. Beau and Mel have a well-oiled relationship on and off the job and work well together, their strengths and weaknesses dovetailing into a formidable whole.
In spite of a tendency towards repetition, Jance skirts a fine line between information dumps and just enough data to move the story forward. The pace is a little uneven, but the characters are unusual and memorable. The dialogue snaps and pops with electricity with emotional heft and veracity.
With a personal back story that provides insight into Beau’s origins that provides hints to his personal baggage and demons, Jance stays inside the lines enough to add relevance to the main focus of the plot. Betrayal of Trust is a high wire balancing act performed without a net and adds some thrills and chills to a genre over burdened by fancy footwork without enough of the human element. Jance delivers the goods with only a few detours.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell