“Trial by Fury”, J.A. Jance’s third novel featuring Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont (Beau) can best be summed up as an average read, less interesting than some of her other works in the series and much less engaging than her other series featuring Joanna Brady. It is more of a police procedural than an actual thriller, though for some readers who enjoy the act of reading an otherwise well written book, it can still be relaxing to read a book that is going pretty much where you think it is. For me personally, when I read a series featuring a particular character that I’ve already come to cherish, it is still lovely to see them again in a book, even if it isn’t a powerhouse read.
The book opens with the discovery of a dead body in a Seattle dumpster, a high school coach who was apparently lynched. As we learn of the very pregnant wife he left behind, we also learn that he was far from the ideal husband. The gruesomeness of a black victim being lynched certainly adds racial overtones to the story, and perhaps the exploration of these are potential motives could have been developed more in order to give the story line more depth. However, this clearly is another mystery revolving a woman scorned, although there are enough twists and turns and in a mildly surprising ending, there is more than one woman scorned and discovering the truth of the matter has dangerous consequences for Ron Peters, Beau’s partner.
One thing I like about Jance’s Beaumont series is her character development. Unlike other series, the books in the Beaumont series can also be read standing alone, as Jance spends almost as much time on the character’s personal lives and personal interactions as she does in developing the mystery. In this book, we see Beau struggling with the acceptance of his own failings as a parent as he faces the reality of what may become of Peters’ children when his life hangs in the balance. It is struggle that many can relate to and I simply love to read a book where the main characters have to overcome basic human struggles as well as deploying whatever superior gifts they may display.
Overall, this is an enjoyable, light read and I do recommend it for fans of J.A. Jance, although it may not be the best introduction for the series for those readers who are not already enamored with Beau and Peters.