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Birds of Prey (J. P. Beaumont Series #15)

Birds of Prey (J. P. Beaumont Series #15)

4.0 46
by J. A. Jance

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The Starfire Breeze steams its way north toward the Gulf of Alaska, buffeted by crisp sea winds blowing down from the Arctic. Those on board are seeking peace, relaxation, adventure, escape. But there is no escape in this place of unspoiled natural majesty. Because terror strolls the decks even in the brilliant light of day . . . and death is a conspicuous,


The Starfire Breeze steams its way north toward the Gulf of Alaska, buffeted by crisp sea winds blowing down from the Arctic. Those on board are seeking peace, relaxation, adventure, escape. But there is no escape in this place of unspoiled natural majesty. Because terror strolls the decks even in the brilliant light of day . . . and death is a conspicuous, unwelcome passenger. Former Seattle policeman J.P. Beaumont—a damaged homicide detective who has come here to heal from fresh, stinging wounds—will find that the grim ghosts pursuing him were not left behind . . . as a pleasure cruise gone horribly wrong carries him into lethal, ever-darkening waters.

Editorial Reviews

Tampa Tribune
"BIRDS OF PREY is as much a tale of human frailty as it is a page-turning mystery."
Our Review
Beaumont's Onboard for Another Chilling Ride
After J. A. Jance's major departure with her previous book, the chilling thriller Kiss of the Bees, the bestselling author returns to her immensely popular J. P. Beaumont series with the fresh and often funny Birds of Prey. Fans will delight in this latest entry in the life of retired homicide detective Beaumont, as he takes a cruise into mayhem and comes face to face with cold-blooded murder once again.

At his 87-year-old grandmother's urging, Beaumont decides to chaperone her and her new husband on their honeymoon cruise to Alaska. Beaumont is initially reticent to do so, and he only becomes more uncomfortable when he meets with a group of four middle-aged divorcées led by the eminent and abrasive Margaret Featherman. Margaret is out to ruin a shipboard conference where her ex-husband, Dr. Harrison Featherman, is unveiling a new treatment to save the lives of brain seizure victims.

When Margaret Featherman disappears the FBI begins an investigation and ask for Beaumont's help. A secular humanist group called Leave It to God believes that nobody has the right to prolong someone's life because it is contrary to God's will. To that end, several doctors have been murdered, as well as their patients who became healthy again. Beaumont joins the FBI in trying to save Dr. Featherman's life and those of his patients even while he explores what really happened to Margaret.

Birds of Prey is a fast-paced, extremely readable novel. Although there's a brief prologue featuring a murder, the catalyst bit of foul play doesn't occur until 80 pages into the story, giving Jance the time and space to fully flesh out the members of her cast. The author makes the worthwhile effort to three-dimensionalize even secondary characters so that they become a great deal more than stock figures used only to advance the mystery.

The cruise ship setting is claustrophobic enough to add a certain raw edge of suspense to the plot as a killer lurks onboard. The concept of the LITG group is terrifying in its implications and used with great effectiveness as a sort of indistinct danger always threatening to encompass innocents. In Birds of Prey Jance manages to use this variety of elements to give us a novel of both humor and significance. Here readers will find a dash of mayhem, authentic dialogue, and plenty of sardonic wit to keep them enthralled.

--Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes, Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering is also available. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.

Romantic Times
The inimitable J.A. Jance puts her own spin on the popular theme of murder on board in Birds of Prey. The suspense is brilliantly done, and readers will be hooked from page one.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
As always, Jance paints a vibrant picture, creating characters so real you want to reach out and hug -- or strangle -- them. The dialogue always rings true, and the cases unravel in an interesting, yet never contrived way.
Chattanooga Times
Any story by Jance is a joy.
Seattle Times
San Fransisco has Dashiell Hammett, Boston has Robert B. Parker...Seattle hsa J.A. Jance.
Palm Beach Post
Jance has created a taut tale of the kind that doesn't come around often enough.
Library Journal
Retired Seattle cop J.P. Beaumont accompanies his newlywed, eightysomething grandmother and her crusty hubby, Lars Jenssen, on an Alaskan cruise to act as a chaperone of sorts, but no one expects murder served up with the tony cuisine. The jaded protagonist is inadvertently forced to masquerade as an FBI agent when Dr. Harrison Featherman's shrill blonde wife Margaret is tossed overboard, and the crime is captured on ship security cameras. A group of religious extremists calling themselves "Leave It to God" appear to be targeting Featherman, along with his colleagues and patients, aboard the Starfire Breeze for a conference. As J.P. learns of the weirdly convoluted family dynamics among the Feathermans and their close friends, he realizes that numerous passengers had motives for killing Margaret. Throughout this 15th installment (after Breach of Duty), new readers and series fans alike will appreciate this sardonic and mature narrator's appeal. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/00.]--Susan A. Zappia, Paradise Valley Community Coll., Phoenix Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
After twenty long years on the Seattle police force, J.P. Beaumont retires. The traumatic incident from last year on top of his ex-wife's death proves too much for J.P. Though he has a good job waiting for him, J.P. chaperones his step-grandfather and grandmother on an Alaskan cruise. The two octogenarians feel they need a much younger person to handle matters if something happens to one of them.Though cruise ships are supposed to be relaxing, Beau becomes involved in one incident after another. He obtains proof that a patron, J.P.'s dining companion, was dumped overboard by persons unknown. The FBI asks J.P. to keep an eye on the participants of a medical conference because some of the guests might be targets of extremists. One of the individuals J.P. guards almost dies and an Alzheimer's patient goes overboard and dies on a train ride under suspicious circumstances. J.P. begins to seek the identity of the perpetrator before someone else dies. J.P. Beaumont has entertained readers for years and the his latest starring role in Birds Of Prey still contain his sardonic humor, compassion to his elderly grandparents, and friendly courtesy to the ship's patrons who make him feel like a real hero. He easily returns to his police role when strange things occur and he is so good at it, the Feds enlist his assistance. The audience will want J.P. starring in another tale soon.

Dancing With The Devil Keri Arthur ImaJinn Books Mar 2001, $10.00, 250 pp.

Lyndhurst is a typical American city where decent folks live side by side with evil residents. The balance changes when two strangers, a good soul and a malevolent soul, arrive in town. Both share one common trait in that they are vampires. Michael's purpose in Lyndhurst is to end the unlife of Jasper, a loathsome creature who raises zombies to serve as his minion of maliciousness. Nikki, a private detective is unable to allow anyone to get close to her after growing up on the streets. She has become the rope in a tug of war between the two immortals. However, Nikki possesses powers of her own as she mentally can apply kinetic energy as a weapon to keep herself safe. While Jasper might be the bigger threat to her life, Michael is the greater danger to her lifestyle because he can steal her heart. Dancing With The Devil is a wild ride into the supernatural realm that is so realistic that readers will sleep with garlic and religious icons in hand. Keri Arthur has written a well-crafted romantic detective vampire tale that will send fans of all three genres comparing her to Huff and Hamilton. This is a great start to what appears to be debut of a best- selling series.

Gemini Moon Elysa Hendricks ImaJinn Books Mar 2001, $10.00, 271 pp.

On the world of Tareth, Price Ash de Gar of Arete marries Princess Katrina del Lancer of Madelen so that their child can rule a united kingdom. The joining of the two nations into one country will occur just following the Blood Bonding Ceremony, but when an escorted Ash enters the bridal chamber, he is horrified to realize that his new wife is Raaka, a soulless being. A zaid informs Ash that another body houses Katrina's ka. Ash receives an amulet that will enable him to go to "her". The amulet leads Ash to earth where artist Cathy Lawrence resides. Cathy has created a world that resembles Tareth and a mystic warrior who is Ash's twin. When he explains who he is and why he is here, she writes him off as a lunatic. Still, as the days pass, Cathy becomes sexually aware of him. When the time comes, she joins Ash, as they are transport back to his home world where the life-threatening adventures begin. Gemini Moon is an exciting sword and sorcery romantic adventure novel with a touch of the paranormal to add even more spice to this tasty and thought-provoking tale. The hero shows he is heroic when he is willing to allow Cathy to return to Earth but she leans towards the credo "stand by her man" by protecting his back. Elysa Hendricks proves a welcome new voice that will electrify fans of several genres.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
J. P. Beaumont Series , #15
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The blonde fixed me with an appraising eye that left me feeling as defenseless as a dead frog spread-eagled on some high school biology student's dissection tray. “And what do you do?” she asked.

When the headwaiter had led me through the cruise ship's plush, chandelier-draped dining room to a round table set for six, four of the chairs were already occupied by a group of women who clearly knew one another well. They were all “women of a certain age,” but the blonde directly across from me was the only one who had gone to considerable effort to conceal the ravages of time. I had taken one of the two remaining places, empty chairs that sat side by side. When I ordered tonic with a twist, there was a distinct pause in the conversation.

“Very good, sir,” the waiter said with a nod before disappearing in the direction of the bustling waiters' station, which was directly to my back.For the better part of the next five minutes the conversation continued as before, with the four women talking at length about the generous divorce settlement someone known to all of them had managed to wring from the hide of her hapless and, as it turned out, serially unfaithful ex-husband. The general enthusiasm with which my tablemates greeted the news about a jerk being forced to pay through the nose told me I had fallen into an enemy camp made up of like-minded divorcées. So I wasn't exactly feeling all warm and fuzzy when the ringleader of the group asked her question. The fact that I was on a heaving cruise ship named Starfire Breeze pitching and bucking my way into Queen Charlotte Sound toward the Gulf of Alaska did nothing to improve mydisposition.

With little to lose, I decided to drop my best conversational bomb. “I'm a homicide detective,” I told the women mildly, taking a slow sip of my icy tonic which had arrived by then. “Retired,” I added after a pause.

I had put in my twenty years, so retired is technically true, although “retired and between gigs” would have been more accurate. However, it didn't seem likely that accuracy would matter as far as present company was concerned. So retired is what I said, and I let it go at that.

Over the years I've found that announcing my profession to a group of strangers usually cripples polite dinnertime small talk. Most people look at me as though I were a distasteful worm who has somehow managed to crawl out from under a rock. They give the impression that they'd just as soon I went right back where I came from. Then there are the occasional people who set about telling me, in complete gory detail, everything they know about some obscure and previously unsolved crime with which they happen to be personally acquainted. This tactic always serves to turn dinner into an unpleasant parlor game in which I'm set the lose/lose task of coming up with the solution to an insoluble mystery. No winners there.

Surprisingly enough, the blonde took neither option A nor option B. Instead, she gave me a white-toothed smile that was no doubt as phony and chemically augmented as the rest of her. “My name's Margaret Featherman,” she announced cordially, standing and reaching across the table with a jewel-bedecked, impeccably manicured hand. She gave me a firm handshake along with an unobstructed view of a generous cleavage.

“These are all friends of mine,” she chirped. “We went to college together. This is Naomi Pepper, Sharon Carson, and Virginia Metz.” As she gestured around the table, each of the women nodded in turn. “The four of us are having our annual reunion. And you are?” Margaret prompted, resuming her seat.

She had a gravelly voice that made me want to clear my throat. I pegged her as a smoker or maybe an ex-smoker.

“Beaumont,” I told her. “J. P. Beaumont.”

I didn't voluntarily elaborate on the Jonas Piedmont bit any more than I had on my employment situation. Nothing was said, but she frowned slightly when I said my name, as though it displeased her somehow. It occurred to me that maybe she had been expecting to hear some particular name, and Beaumont wasn't it.Although the other three women had been chatting amiably enough when I first arrived, now they shut up completely, deferring to Margaret Featherman as though she were the only one of the group capable of human speech. Whatever it was that had disturbed Margaret about my introduction, she regained her equanimity quickly enough.

“Now that we're out from behind Vancouver Island, the water is a little choppy,” she allowed a few seconds later. “I suppose your wife is feeling a bit under the weather.” She gave a helpful hint by nodding pointedly in the direction of the empty chair beside me.

“I'm a widower,” I said.

Again, that wasn't quite the whole story. If a wife dies in less than a day, is her husband still legitimately a widower? And if a first wife dies years after a divorce and it still hurts like hell to lose her to the big C, are you not a widower then? After all, Karen and I may have been divorced, but we had two children together and were still connected in a way no legal document could ever quite sever. Even now I'm surprised by how much her death continues to grieve me. Maybe if I were still drinking, I'd be in such an emotional fog that I wouldn't notice. But I'm not, so I do, and that wasn't any of this nosy broad's business, either.

“My wives are dead,” I added brusquely. “Both of them.” So much for winning friends and influencing people.

I expected the comment to shut her...

Birds of Prey. Copyright © by J. Jance. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

J. A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the J. P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series, and five interrelated thrillers about the Walker family, as well as a volume of poetry. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Brief Biography

Bellevue, Washington
Date of Birth:
October 27, 1944
Place of Birth:
Watertown, South Dakota
B. A., University of Arizona, 1966; M. Ed. in Library Science, University of Arizona, 1970

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Birds of Prey 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 2 days. It's fast moving and holds your interest.
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zmanTX More than 1 year ago
Another good Beaumont book. I like this series.
BettinainNYC More than 1 year ago
JA Jance is not a great writer, but she can tell wonderful stories. I enjoy her books very much and I've read most of the Beaumont series -- this one was especially enjoyable to read.
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