A retired cop honors a crime journalist’s last request.
J.P. Beaumont has earned the right to enjoy his leisure, sobriety, titanium knees, and new wife, Melissa Soames. But the 72-year-old who retired from Seattle Homicide doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. Mel is busy with her new job as chief of police in Bellingham, and Beau’s occasional work at a volunteer cold-case unit doesn’t begin to fill the days. Nor does a chance encounter with Maxwell Cole, one of his least favorite people, help Beau’s malaise. Max, a crime reporter and columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, was a frat brother of Beau’s at the University of Washington, where Beau stole away his girlfriend, and they later came to blows. Still, Beau is shaken when Max dies in a fire. A call from Max’s goddaughter, Erin Kelsey Howard, whose life Beau once saved, brings him back into action. Erin is convinced her godfather's death wasn’t an accident: he’d been working on a book about corruption on a high level, and he told Erin that if anything happened to him, she should go to Beau and not the police. Starting with Max’s literary agent and an owner of a drag-queen comedy theater, and with off-the-books help from former colleagues, Beau discovers that the man who may have killed Max was killed himself in a hit-and-run. Erin’s convoluted family history interspersed with not entirely relevant flashbacks and a subplot about an Irish wolfhound temporarily lodging with Beau and Mel slow the pace as Beau connects the dots between Max’s murder and his murderer’s murder and the death of a third party linked to a past earthquake and a present gang leader.
Twenty-three cases into the franchise, the indefatigable Jance’s (Man Overboard, 2017, etc.) formerly hard-drinking detective is showing signs of wear. Although newcomers may wax impatient with too much back story, loyalists who’ve followed her hero from the beginning will be glad he’s still kicking.