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Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont investigates a dark and deadly conspiracy
At first glance, the video appears to be showing a game: a teenage girl with dark wavy hair smiles for the camera, a blue scarf tied around her neck. All of a sudden things turn murderous, and the girl ends up dead. It’s as bad as a snuff film can get, and what’s worse, the clip has been discovered on a phone that belongs to the governor of Washington State’s ...
Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont investigates a dark and deadly conspiracy
At first glance, the video appears to be showing a game: a teenage girl with dark wavy hair smiles for the camera, a blue scarf tied around her neck. All of a sudden things turn murderous, and the girl ends up dead. It’s as bad as a snuff film can get, and what’s worse, the clip has been discovered on a phone that belongs to the governor of Washington State’s grandson.
Fortunately, the governor is able to turn to an old friend, J. P. Beaumont, for help. Along with Mel Soames, Beaumont soon discovers that what initially appears to be a childish prank gone wrong has much deeper implications, reaching into the halls of state government itself. But Mel and Beau must follow this path of corruption to its very end, before more innocent young lives are lost.
Twoinvestigators for the Washington State Attorney General's Special Homicide Investigation Team are called upon to investigate a heinous crime with political connections.
Upon their arrival in Olympia, J.P. Beaumont and his wife Mel Soames are shown a snuff film that's been sent to the cell phone of Josh, the grandson of Governor Longmire's second husband. After Josh's mother died of a drug overdose, he moved into the governor's mansion. He denies knowing anything about the film or the identity of the young woman. J.P., who believes him, sends Josh's computer and phone to a computer expert to see what he can tell. His information becomes even more important when Josh commits suicide. The body of the girl on the film is found floating in a pond, but it's clear that she was strangled after the first film was made. J.P. and Mel trace her to Janie's House, a community center for poor and troubled teens, where they discover a connection to Josh's suicide. He was being cyber-bullied from a computer available to anyone at Janie's House, a place frequented by both the dead girl and the governor's daughters, who do community service there as tutors. The difficulty of the case is matched by something J.P. has just learned about his own background that will change his life.
The prolific Jance (Fire and Ice, 2009, etc.) again tells a story that will keep her readers wanting more.
I was sitting on the window seat of our penthouse unit
in Belltown Terrace when Mel came back from her run. Dripping
with sweat, she nodded briefly on her way to the shower and
left me in peace with my coffee cup and the online version of the
New York Times crossword. Since it was Monday, I finished it within
minutes and turned my attention to the spectacular Olympic
Mountains view to the west.
It was June. After months of mostly gray days, summer had
come early to western Washington. Often the hot weather holds
off until after drowning out the Fourth of July fireworks. Not this
year. It was only mid-June, and the online weather report said it
might get all the way to the mid-eighties by late afternoon.
People in other parts of the country might laugh at the idea of
mid-eighties temperatures clocking in as a heat wave, but in Seattle,
where the humidity is high and AC units are few, a long June
afternoon of sun can be sweltering, especially since the sun doesn't
disappear from the sky until close to 10:00 p.m.
I remember those long miserable hot summer nights when I
was a kid, when my mother—a single mother—and I lived in a
second-story one-bedroom apartment in a blue-collar Seattle
neighborhood called Ballard. We didn't have AC and there was a
bakery on the floor below us. Having a bakery and all those ovens
running was great in the winter, but in the summer not so much.
I would lie there on the couch in the living room, sleepless and
miserable, hoping for a tiny breath of breeze to waft in through
our lace curtains. It wasn't until I was in high school and earning
my own money by working as an usher in a local theater that I
managed to give my mom a pair of fans for Mother's Day—one for
her and one for me. (At least I didn't give her a baseball glove.)
I refilled my coffee cup and poured one for Mel. She grew up as
an army brat. Evidently the base housing hot water heaters were
often less than optimal. As a result she takes some of the fastest
showers known to man. She collected her coffee from the kitchen
and was back in the living room before the coffee came close to
reaching drinking temperature. Wearing a silky robe that left
nothing to the imagination and with a towel wrapped around her
wet hair, she curled up at the opposite end of the window seat and
joined me in examining the busy shipping traffic crisscrossing
A grain ship was slowly pulling away from the massive terminal
at the bottom of Queen Anne Hill. Two ferries, one going and
one coming, made their lumbering way to and from Bremerton or
Bainbridge Island. They were large ships, but from our perch
twenty-two stories up, they seemed like tiny toy boats. Over near
West Seattle, a collection of barges was being assembled in
advance of heading off to Alaska. Nearer at hand, a many-decked
cruise ship had docked overnight, spilling a myriad of shopping-
intent cruise enthusiasts into our Denny Regrade neighborhood.
"How was your run?" I asked.
"Hot and crowded," Mel said. "Myrtle Edwards Park was teeming
with runners off the cruise ships. I don't like running in
crowds. That's why I don't do marathons."
I had another reason for not doing marathons—two of them,
actually—my knees. Mel runs. I walk, or as she says, I "saunter."
Really, it's more limping than anything else. I finally broke down
and had surgery to remove my heel spurs, but then my knees went
south. It's hell getting old. I talked to Dr. Bliss, my GP, about the
situation with my knees.
"Yes," he said, "you'll need knee replacement surgery eventually,
ally, but we're not there yet."
Obviously he was using the royal "we," because if it was his
knee situation instead of mine, I'm sure "we'd" have had it done
I glanced at my watch. "We need to leave in about twenty, if
we're going to make it across the water before traffic stops up."
Since we were sitting looking out at an expanse of water, it
would be easy to think that's the water I meant when I spoke to
Mel, but it wasn't. In Seattle, that term refers to several different
bodies of water, depending on where you are at the time and
where you're going. In this case we were looking at Elliott Bay,
which happens to be our water view, but we work on the other
side of Lake Washington, in this instance, the "traffic" water in
question. People who live on Lake Washington or on Lake
Sammamish would have an entirely different take on the matter when
they used the same two words. Context is everything.
"Okey dokey," Mel said, hopping off the window seat. "Another
refill?" she asked.
I gave her my coffee mug. She took it, went to the kitchen,
filled it, and came back. She handed me the cup and gave me a
quick kiss in the process. "I started a new pot for our travelers,"
she said, then added, "Back in a flash."
I had showered and dressed while she was out, not that I needed
to. There are two full baths as well as a powder room in our unit.
When I married Mel, rather than share mine, she took over the
guest bath and made it her own, complete with all the mysterious
vials of makeup and moisturizers she deems necessary to keep
herself presentable. I happen to think Mel is more than presentable
without any of that stuff, but I've gathered enough wisdom
over the years to realize that my opinion on some subjects is
neither requested nor appreciated.
So we split the bathrooms. As long as we share the bed in my
room, I don't have a problem with that. Occasionally I find myself
wondering about my first marriage to Karen, who is now
deceased. Most of the time we were married, we had two bathrooms
—one for us and one for the kids. Would our lives have
been smoother if Karen and I had been able to have separate bath-
rooms as well?
No, wait. Denial is a wonderful thing, and I'm going to call
myself on it. Despite my pretense to the contrary, the warfare
that occurred in Karen's and my bathroom usually had nothing
to do with the bathroom itself. Karen was a drama queen and I
was a jerk, for starters. Yes, we did battle over changing the
toilet paper rolls and leaving the toilet seat up and hanging panty
hose on the shower curtain rod and leaving clots of toothpaste in
the single sink, but those were merely symptoms of what was
really wrong with our marriage—namely, my drinking and my
working too much. All the squabbling in our bathroom—the
only real private place in the house—was generally about those
underlying issues rather than the ones we claimed we were
For years, Karen and I never showed up at the kitchen table for
breakfast without having spent the better part of an hour railing
at each other first. I'm sure those constant verbal battles were very
hard on our kids, and I regret them to this day. But I have to tell
you that the pleasant calmness that prevails in my life with Mel
Soames is nothing short of a dream come true.
Don't let the different last names fool you. Mel is my third wife.
She didn't take my name, and I didn't take hers. As for the single
day Anne Corley's and my marriage lasted? She didn't take my
name, either, so I'm two for one in the wives-keeping-their-own-
names department. Karen evidently didn't mind changing names at
all—she took mine, and later, when she married Dave Livingston,
her second husband, she took his name as well. So much for the
high and low points of J. P. Beaumont's checkered romantic past.
When the coffeepot—an engineering marvel straight out of
Starbucks—beeped quietly to let me know it was done, I went out
to the kitchen and poured most of the pot into our two hefty
stainless-steel traveling mugs. This is Seattle. We don't go any-
where or do anything without sufficient amounts of coffee plugged
into the system.
I was just tightening the lid on the second one when Mel
appeared in the doorway looking blond and wonderful. Maybe the
makeup did make a tiny bit of difference, but I can tell you she's a
whole lot better-looking than any other homicide cop I ever met.
On our commute, she drives. Fast. It's best for all concerned if I
settle back in the passenger seat of my Mercedes S-550, drink my
coffee, and do my best to refrain from backseat driving. One of
these days Mel is going to get a hefty speeding ticket that she
won't be able to talk her way out of. When that happens, I expect
it will finally slow her down. Until that time, however, I'm staying
out of it.
And don't let all this talk about making coffee fool you. Mel is
no wizard in the kitchen, and neither am I. We mostly survive on
takeout or by going out to eat. We have several preferred restaurants
on our list of morning dining establishments once we get
through the potential bottleneck that is the I-90 Bridge.
The people who planned the bridges in Seattle—both the 520
and the I-90—were betting that the traffic patterns of the fifties
and sixties would prevail—that people would drive into the city
from the suburbs in the mornings and back home at night. So the
lanes that were built into the I-90 bridges have express lanes that
are westbound in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon.
Except there are almost as many people working in the burbs now
as there are in the city, and "wrong-way" commuters like Mel and
me, on our way to the east side of Lake Washington to the offices
of the Attorney General's Special Homicide Investigation Team,
pay the commuting price for those long-ago decisions every day.
If we make it through in good order, we can go to the Pancake
Corral in Bellevue or to Li'l Jon's in Eastgate for a decent sit-down
breakfast. Otherwise we're stuck with Egg McMuffins at our
desks. You don't have to guess which of those options I prefer. So
we head out a good hour and fifteen minutes earlier than we
would need to without stopping for breakfast. Getting across the
lake early usually makes for lighter traffic—unless there's an accident.
Then all bets are off. A successful outcome is also impacted
by weather—too much rain or wind or even too much sun can all
prove hazardous to the morning commute.
That Monday morning we were golden—no accidents, no
stop-and-go traffic. By the time the sun came peeking up over the
Li'l Jon's ordering breakfast. And more coffee. Because our office
is across the freeway and only about six blocks away from the
restaurant, we were able to take our time. Mel had pancakes.
She's a runner. She can afford the carbs. I had a single egg over
easy with one slice of whole-wheat toast.
We arrived at the Special Homicide Investigation Team's east
side office at five minutes to nine. We don't have to punch a time
clock. When we're on a case, we sometimes work extraordinarily
long hours. When we're not on a case, we work on the honor
For the record, I do know that the unfortunate acronym for
Special Homicide Investigation Team is S.H.I.T., an oversight some
bumbling bureaucrat didn't understand until it was too late to do
anything about it. In the world of state government—and probably
in the federal government as well—once the stationery is printed,
no departmental name is going to get changed because the resulting
acronym turns out to be bad news. S.L.U.T. (the South Lake
Union Transit) is another unfortunate local case in point.
But for all of us who actually work for Special Homicide, the
jokes about S.H.I.T. are almost as tired as any little-kid knock-
knock joke that comes to mind, and they're equally unwelcome.
Yes, we laugh courteously when people think they're really clever
by mentioning that we "work for S.H.I.T.," but I can assure you,
what we do here at Special Homicide is not a joke. And neither is
our boss, Harry Ignatius Ball—Harry I. Ball, as those of us who
know and love him like to call him.
Special Homicide is actually divided into three units. Squad A
works out of the state capital down in Olympia. They handle
everything from Olympia south to the Oregon border. Squad B,
our unit, is in Bellevue, but we work everything from Tacoma
north to the Canadian border, while Squad C, based in Spokane,
covers most things on the far side of the mountains. These divisions
aren't chiseled in granite. We work for Ross Connors. As
the Washington State Attorney General, he is the state's chief
law enforcement officer. We work at his pleasure and direction.
We work where Ross Connors says and when Ross Connors says.
He's a tough boss but a good one. When things go haywire, as
they sometimes do, he isn't the kind of guy who leaves his people
blowing in the wind. That sort of loyalty inspires loyalty, and
Ross gives as good as he gets.
That morning Mel and I both managed to survive the terminal
boredom of the weekly staff-meeting ritual. After that, we
returned to our separate cubicle-size offices, where we were
continuing work on cross-referencing the state's many missing
persons reports with unidentified homicides in all other jurisdictions.
It was cold-case work, long on frustration, short on triumphs,
and even more boring most of the time than staff meetings.
When Squad B's secretary/office manager, Barbara Galvin,
poked her head into our tiny offices and announced that Mel and I
had been summoned to Harry's office, it was a real footrace to see
who got there first.
doesn't use that, either. It's only in the last few months that he's
finally accepted the necessity of carrying a cell
Excerpted from Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance Copyright © 2011 by J.A. Jance. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 22, 2012
Reviewed by Jean Brickell for Readers Favorite
"Betrayal of Trust" is a very interesting book that has a unique mystery story. We have a murder, that of a young girl that isn't a murder, then it is a murder. A suicide in the Governor's Mansion is the next. Our detectives are Beaumont and Soames, who just happen to be husband and wife. The exchanges between these two lighten up a dark murder mystery that unfortunately involves young people. The pace is fast, the reader needs to watch the clock as to not read all night. The action takes place in Washington State and the story also includes Texas because of Beaumont's loss of his father even before he was born. The characters are believable and true to life.
I liked this book as it has good characters and a very interesting story It is a real page turner and I lost sleep over this book. J.P. Beaumont and Mel Soames work well together: a good husband and wife relationship and even better working relationship as detective partners. Together they hunt down the bad guys using all means necessary, including hunting through garbage to find clues. They dig out information from the Governor's Mansion to junk yards with junk yard dogs. While busy with the case, a cousin of Beaumont contacts him with information about his father. He can't decide whether to follow up or not, but for now he has crimes to solve, so any decision will have to wait until things are quiet. And things are not quiet at this point in the story!
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 28, 2012
Posted June 25, 2011
Married couple J.P. "Beau" Beaumont and Mel Soames work for the for the Washington State Attorney General's Special Homicide Investigation Team in the burbs of Seattle. A video stars a smiling teen girl with a scarf around her neck; however, her smile is gone when the clip shows two males pulling the scarf strangulating her. S.H.I.T gets the investigation because the snuff film was found on a cell phone belonging to the fifteen years old Josh Deeson, grandson of Governor Marsha Longmire's husband Gerald Willis who has custody of the lad. Beau gets the lead because he went to high school with Governor "Old Mother Hubbard".
The two cops know Deeson has a troubled past with his mom dead from an OD and his father an addict. The teen denies knowledge of the snuff film, but the murder weapon is found under his mattress in his "Prisoner of Zenda" room in the Governor's mansions. Like his comments re the film, he denies knowing how the scarf ended in his school locker where he insists he found it. Beau and Mel as good cop bad cop put the pressure on him to tell them who the three other people besides the victim are. Deeson remains the prime suspect.
This is a terrific Beaumont whodunit (see Fire and Ice) that contains a strong police procedural while also focusing on troubled teen bullying, and related adult excuses and platitudes. Long time fans will relish the subplot involving Hank and Hannah (no giveaways as to who they are). However, it is the trademark homage to cops who try their best risking their lives to protect us that makes this a fabulous entry in a great series.
2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 4, 2012
I have loved this entire series.
A little mix up in the last few books - when they combined Beau and JoAnn from another of her series... but figured it out!
I was in tears towards the end-- when things came 'complete' for Beau.
SO HOPE this doesn't mean the end of the series!
I also loved traveling the state of Washington and Arizona with the books. Kept remembering places we have been in WA!
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Posted May 9, 2012
Posted October 5, 2011
This book was no surprise to Jance followers. It was fast moving and you hated to put it down. J A Jance is a great writer and I follow all of her different series books. I can't wait for the next one.
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Posted July 27, 2011
Another great installment in the Beaumont series! Jance knows how to write a long-term series based on one character and keep the audience interested with the character's lives and great mysteries. I think some other authors could take a lesson from her. I can only hope since she has other series that the wait for a new Beaumont novel is not too long!
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Posted July 28, 2014
Everything about #20 in the JP Beaumont series by J. A. Jance was riveting and timely. High school cyber-bullying. Rich kids versus the poor kids. Sexting, snuff films, predatory teachers crossing sexual boundaries. And the hard lessons learned that assumptions are all too often dead wrong. JP Beaumont is on a case when a snuff film is discovered on the cell phone of the Governor's step-son. He's a troubled kid, who's been taken in by is father, the Governor's husband, and the family dynamic with the family's two teenaged daughters is strained at best. Beaumont and his wife Mel are assigned the case and his own past familiarity with the Governor - with whom he'd gone to school and at whose hands he learned the hard way that being poor and unpopular makes you the target of the offspring of the rich and powerful. But he puts aside his past feelings and, shoulder to shoulder with Mel - his lovely, much younger wife, who is nevertheless as tough as nails. A fact of which he is inordinately proud, even as he nurses her bruised hands. She didn't wait for JP to deal with the lech; she just let fly herself! But as the two of them are drawn deeper and deeper into the lives of a dirt poor family whose daughter's final breaths were recorded on camera, and the lives of the rich and powerful gubernatorial clan, they both have to learn not to jump to conclusions, and that sometimes justice is served - by death. This was a heart-wrenching thriller, with the emotions and relationships of victims' families, and criminals' families, juxtaposed with JP and Mel's marriage, their past, and their future. A wonderful and poignant sub-plot adds a great layer of depth to JP's sad life story and with Mel at his side, he learns of past secrets, and familial sorrow, and the strength of the bonds of love. Jance's books, whether they're the series starring Ali Reynolds, or Joanna Brady, stand-alone thrillers, or the JP Beaumont series - with the tormented, scarred, flawed hero - are not to be missed. Filled with humanity - the good, the bad and the ugly, and wonderfully shivery stories of the darkest deeds visited upon men, and how good can triumph over evil, and how love can make men strong.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2014
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Posted February 21, 2013
I have read all of J.A. Jance. You can start from book 1 or pick one of her books up and start reading. A marvelous writer! Every book is a mystery you can't miss, very entertaining.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2012
Posted June 15, 2012
Posted April 7, 2012
Betrayal of Trust
By J.A. Jance
April 24, 2012
Paperback, 375 pp., $9.99
Reviewed by Theodore Feit
The fact that this novel is the 20th J.P. Beaumont book in the series speaks for itself. The novels have deeply drawn characters, tightly constructed plots, and enough imagination to keep a reader entranced throughout. “Betrayal of Trust,” of course, is no exception to that rule.
What starts out as a secret mission on behalf of the Washington State Attorney General and the Governor leads J.P. Beaumont and his partner and wife, Mel Soames, on a trail with deeper and much more nefarious consequences. Initially the Governor, Marsha Longmire, with whom J.P. went to high school, discovers what appears to be a snuff film on her step-grandchild’s cell phone and requests him to investigate. This leads to a much more complicated case, with more potentially far-reaching damage to all concerned.
Perhaps the most powerful novel among all the books in the series, this is an easy one to recommend wholeheartedly.
Posted March 26, 2012
J. A. JANCE IS my favorite female author. I enjoy her settings and character development for a highly enjoyable read. Admittedly, among her numerous books and different leading characters, J. P. Beaumont is my least favorite. However, Ms. Jance, has never disappointed me.
"Betrayal of Trust" has been even more entertaining on my second reading.
Posted March 14, 2012
Posted December 15, 2011