cover image Failure to Appear

Failure to Appear

J. A. Jance. William Morrow & Company, $20 (269pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12674-2

Seattle police detective J. P. Beaumont makes his 11th appearance, following Without Due Process , in this expertly crafted tale that turns on child pornography and revenge. Although Beau is working in the small tourist town of Ashland, Oreg., this time out, fans won't miss the rain and mist of Seattle: Beaumont, a recovering alcoholic, carries plenty of his own cloud cover. The detective goes to Ashland, which is hosting a Shakespeare Festival, with his lady friend while searching for his runaway daughter Kelly, whom he discovers pregnant and about to marry an actor. Shortly, a PI from Seattle is stabbed with a knife that may have come from the Festival's prop room and the action takes off. Subsequent revelations are shocking but fit right in with what we've learned of the characters, including assorted thespians, producers and the detective's ex-wife who charges in as though auditioning for Lady Macbeth. Beau is neither hard-boiled, fast-talking nor oversexed; his A.A. experiences are not gloss but prove central to key scenes. Jance's artistry keeps readers guessing--and caring--until the resolution, which rings with lasting, credible resonance. (Oct.)