Until Proven Guilty (J. P. Beaumont Series #1)

Until Proven Guilty (J. P. Beaumont Series #1)

by J. A. Jance

Hardcover(Large Print)

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The little girl was only five, much too young to die — a lost treasure who should have been cherished, not murdered.She could have been J.P. Beaumont's kid, and the determined Seattle homicide detective won't rest until her killer pays dearly. But the hunt is leading Beaumont into a murky world of religious fanaticism, and toward a beautiful, perilous obsession all his own. And suddenly Beau himself is a target — because faith can be dangerous...and love can kill.

Author Biography: J.A. Jance is the American Mystery Award-winning author of the popular J.P. Beaumont mystery series as well as eight mysteries featuring Joanna Brady. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786274031
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 10/19/2005
Series: J. P. Beaumont Series , #1
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 357
Product dimensions: 5.68(w) x 8.68(h) x 1.18(d)
Age Range: 6 - 7 Years

About 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.


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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

She was probably a cute kid once, four maybe five years old. It was hard to tell that now. She was dead. The murder weapon was a pink Holly Hobbie gown. What little was left of it was still twisted around her neck. It wasn't pretty, but murder never is.

Her body had rolled thirty feet down a steep embankment from the roadway, tossed out like so much garbage. She was still tangled in a clump of blackberry bushes when we got there. As far as I could see, there was no sign of a struggle. It looked to me as though she had been dead several hours, but a final determination on that would have to wait for the experts.

My name is Beaumont. I've been around homicide for fifteen years, but that doesn't mean I didn't want to puke. I was careful not to think about my own kids right then. You can't afford to. If you do, you crack up.

My partner, Ron Peters, was the new man on the squad. He had only been up from burglary a couple of months. He was still at the stage where he was long on homicide theory and short on homicide practice. This was his first dead kid, and he wasn't taking it too well. He hadn't come to terms with the idea of a dead child as evidence. That takes time and experience. His face was a pasty shade of gray. I sent him up to the road to talk to the truck driver who had called 911, while I prowled the crime scene along with a small army of arriving officers.

After the pictures, after the measurements, it took the boys from the medical examiner's office a good little while to drag her loose from the blackberry bushes. If you've ever tried picking blackberries, you know it's easy enough to get in but hell on wheels toget back out. By the time they brought out the body bag, I was convinced we weren't going to find anything. We slipped and slid on the steep hillside, without finding so much as a gum wrapper or an old beer can.

I climbed back up and found to my relief that I had waited long enough. The swarm of killer bees that calls itself Seattle's press corps had disappeared with the coroner's wagon. I like reporters almost as much as I like killers, and the less I have to do with them, the better off I am.

Peters' color was a little better than it had been. He was talking with a man named Otis Walker, who was built like an Alaskan grizzly. In the old days people would have said Walker drove a sewage truck. These are the days of sanitary engineers and environmentalists, so Walker told us he drove a sludge truck for the Westside Treatment Center. That may sound like a high-class detox joint, but it isn't. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but if it looks like a sewage plant and smells like a sewage plant, that's what I call it.

However, Otis Walker had a heavy, square jaw and a nose that showed signs of more than one serious break. His biceps resembled halfgrown trees. I chose not to debate his job title. Despite his fearsome appearance, he was having a tough time talking to Peters. The words stuck in his throat, threatening to choke him.

"You gonna catch that SOB?" he asked me when I appeared over Peters' shoulder. I nodded. "I got a kid of my own at home, you know," he continued, "almost her age. Wears the same kind of gown. Shit!" He stopped and swiped at his face with the back of one meaty paw.

"That's our job," I told him. I wondered what kind of murder this was. The easiest ones to solve are the hardest ones to understand, the husbands and lovers and wives and parents who murder people they ought to cherish instead of kill. The random killers, the ones who pick out a victim at a football game or a grocery store, are easier to comprehend and harder to catch. That's the problem with homicide.

I turned to Peters. "You about done here?"

He nodded. "Pretty much."

Walker pulled himself together. "You guys through with me?"

"For right now," Peters told him, "but don't go out of town without letting us know where to find you. With all this timely-trial crap from the Supreme Court, we may need to get ahold of you in a hurry."

Walker looked dolefully at the blackberry clump halfway down the hill. He shook his head. "I wish I never saw her," he said. "I wish I'da just driven past and never knew she was down there, know what I mean?" He climbed back into the huge blue tractor-trailer and started it, waving halfheartedly as he eased past where Peters and I were standing.

"What now?" Peters asked.

"Not much doing here as far as I can tell. Let's go get something to eat and come back for another look later." The call had come in about eleven in the morning. It was now well after three. I'm one of those guys who has to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or I begin to foam at the mouth. I was getting close.

Peters gave me a reproachful look. "How can you think about food? Where are her parents? The medical examiner says she died sometime around nine or nine-thirty. Someone should have come looking for her by now."

"Somebody will come," I assured him. "With any kind of luck it will be after we finish eating." As it turned out, they found us before we even got out of the car in the parking lot at G.G.'s.

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

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Until Proven Guilty 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 958 reviews.
Avid_ReaderLL More than 1 year ago
This is the first Beaumont story and a great one at that! I have read all the Beaumont and Brady stories and Jance has created great characters and stories in books that can be read over and over again. I love this book because it's the story of Beaumont and Anne Corley. She remains a presence through all the Beaumont stories, so this book is a must read to really understand the back story that persists through the series. This book originally came out in the mid-80s, so I also loved the crime solving using the technology that existed back then. Reading the story now, it really makes you see how far technology has come. Overall, great read and one anyone should try!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just got done reading this book and it was another I just could not put down.If you are into those cnt put a book down readers then this is the book for you.It is a suspense -romance-fiction all in one and I am most definatly going to check out other books by this GREAT author.
RussS More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by this author. I had several preconceived notions based on the plot description, but was pleasantly surprised to find the none of them were correct. The plot moved fairly quickly with reasonable character development. I will likely read more by this author, both in this series and others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a new reader of the J. A. Jance books, but so far, I've been very pleased. This book definitely kept you guessing and I definitely recommend it to those who like a puzzle!
thecollector0 More than 1 year ago
this book is one of the best I have read. It's very suspenseful and hard to put down.
miss_dobie More than 1 year ago
A little slow at first, but halfway thru it picks up and is excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Umm.........It started out interesting enough and I was really caught up in it; wanting to find out who the killer was and why. Then it just fell FLAT on it's face for me. The shift of focus on the romance and away from the mystery was disappointing to me. and the ending did not pay off AT ALL in my opinion. It felt like the writer lost her way and then tried to quickly tie it all in together at the end.
kkineman More than 1 year ago
this book was full of surprising twist and turns
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put this book down due to the mystery of each characher......I love good "who done it's"..good book.
JSAP More than 1 year ago
This book was well written but wasn't as suspenseful as I thought it would have been. I do have to commend J.A. Jance on the plot, I was not expecting that twist. If you want to read the whole series for J.P. Beaumont you must start with this book since it is his debut.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
J.P. Beaumont is a likable character. Great mystery series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This the 15th book by this author I've read so obviously I would recommend it highly. ENJOY!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will read more by this skilled author. Enjoyable with a surprise at the end.
ThePolyBlog More than 1 year ago
PLOT OR PREMISE: Beaumont finds himself investigating the apparent murder of a little girl, five years old. When the investigation leads to the girl's home, and the cult that her mother is part of, things start to get a little weird. Add in the fact that he is still getting to know his partner, and the introduction of a rich and beautiful stranger to J.P.'s social and professional life, and the story starts to get a little odd. . WHAT I LIKED: I liked the woman in the story, and her obsession with those who murder little children. She shows up at the funeral, and you can vividly picture her arrival from the excellent prose. . WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The bits with the journalist are a bit stale in this book in the series, and some of the "getting to know your partner" tension is simply boring. Unfortunately, too, the "cult" comes off rather comical without any real depth as to why people might have gravitated towards this life. . BOTTOM-LINE: Not the best in the series, but a killer ending . DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first J A Jance novel. It was very good. Good characters, good suspense all the way to the end. Can't wait to start another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read her books in order -they make sense- these 20 books are the best books to read -she is the best author i have read - i recommand to read all of them !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Two thumbs up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book but i also like all the crime investigation stuff. If that's what you're into i strongly recomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Jance's J.P. Beaumont mysteries start with this one and every one of them had me reading the last 8-10 pages as fast as I could, not believing what was happening. At the end my heart was pounding and I was stunned. Beau is a great character and i highly recommend all. Read in order for best understanding.
kathy_h on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
good read, the plot may have been a little implausible but i liked the main character, j p beaumont, so much, it didn't matter. since this was the first in a series that began in 1985, i can only imagine ms. jance has improved with age! will want to read more in the series.
Nodosaurus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It started well and ended well, but the middle was a bit long. The woman in red had several plot points start to develop but disolve in a few pages, so pointed to some critical involvement. The mystery wasn't solved by the main character, but solved itself around him. I almost stopped reading in mid-book. But the ending enticed me, I might read the next one and give it another shot.
gma2lana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Started off with a bang, slowed me down somewhere in the middle, picked up again at the finish, had me guessing for sure.
crk-slc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book for .99 from B&N, and I thought, why not? Although somewhat dated (first printed in 1985!), it still held my interest with predictable characters and cliched sex scenes. It made for a good Lazy Labor Day read.
TheBoltChick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little girl's body is found discarded along a road, and JP Beaumont , "Beau", is assigned to find her murderer. He and his partner discover that the child's mother is a member of a religious cult that believes in strict discipline that includes beatings and humiliation. Members of the cult are uncooperative, and getting good information is a chore. While attending the child's funeral, Beau meets a beautiful woman in red. He falls head over heels in love with her. As a result of this whirlwind romance, he loses some of this focus on the investigation. I have been reading JA Jance's books for years now. This book, written back in 1985, is the first in the JP Beaumont series. I fell in love with Beau in later books, so really looked forward to reading this story and getting filled in on details from his past. I must say that if this was the first book I read, I may have been tempted to not read any others in the series. It was entertaining, but weak. Ms Jance's writing has improved considerably over the years. While I do feel it is worth reading, if just to get Beau's backstory, it is certainly not one of the best in the series.
caitemaire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Awhile ago, I read the most recent book, the 20th, in the J.P.Beaumont and enjoyed it a good deal. So when I saw a really good deal on this book, the first in the series, 99 cents on Barnes an Noble for a Nookbook, I could not pass it up. Well, the results were mixed.I liked the character of Beau in both books and we get, in this first book, to learn a good bit about his backstory. The problem is that this particular part of his backstory is quite bizarre. The first part, where the body of a young girl is found and police start their investigation, starting with the fundamentalist cult her mom is a part of, is good. We meet his new partner, Ron Peters, a guy that has his own trouble past, some other officers and the oh so sleazy newspaper man Maxwell Cole. Since Beau does not own a car, we also get an interesting walking tour of Seattle. I will admit that maybe one other reason I like this series is the northwest setting. Rainy day are always a plus in my book.But then, at the girl's funeral, we meet the Woman in Red, Anne Corley in her red dress, with her red Porsche, it is love at first sight and things take a huge turn for the improbable. You know what your mom said...if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Well, I guess Beau's mom never mentioned that to him. Where there is smoke, there is fire..love is blind...so may cliches come to mind.It is not a bad book, but honestly, if this was the first in the series that I read it may have been my last. Good characters...no doubt, one of the strengths of the series...a great setting, love that rain!...and a totally unbelievable plot. I will say that the ending wrapped everything up nicely and set up the future of the series nicely, but you have to hang on to get there.