Most of the J.A. Jance fans I know have a deep affinity for J.P. Beaumont, the Seattle detective who lets us see just enough of his personal life to make him real, then brings us right back to a tight focus on the case. We love his smart, brooding character; we’re crazy for the Seattle setting and we delight in the place-namedropping (the Dog House was a favorite Beaumont haunt in the 1980s and early 1990s). Jance has never let Beaumont become a bore and perhaps that’s because she hasn’t focused solely on him in her writing career. Instead she’s given readers two other series, both set in Arizona: the Sheriff Joanna Brady series and the Ali Reynolds series.
Let’s start with the newest series (launched in 2006) because the seventh Ali Reynolds book, Left for Dead, came out this week (and J.A. Jance will be at the Central Library next Wednesday at 7 p.m.). When readers first met Ali, a former TV news reporter/anchor, in Edge of Evil, her L.A. station had just pushed her out the door because of her age (only in her 40s!) and she moved to Sedona. Eventually Ali went through the police academy and now, in Left for Dead, she’s investigating the murder of a 17-year-old girl found near the Mexican border — a case that some are quick to dismiss as a drug-related.
If you like the Ali Reynolds mysteries (which in my view means you like fast-paced suspense starring a strong female character who knows a thing or two about crime from her days as a reporter), then take a look at Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer (a former Dateline producer), the first in a series starring Minneapolis freelance TV journalist Riley Spartz. Kramer’s series gets smarter and twistier with each book; the fourth, and most recent, Killing Kate, is a true winner. Two other mysteries to try: Goodnight Irene by Jan Burke and Love Kills by Edna Buchanan.
Author Lisa Gardner’s Detective D.D. Warren series (see Live to Tell) is another good match for Jance fans, whether you like the Reynolds, Brady or Beaumont series. See the If You Like J.A. Jance booklist in the library catalog for more ideas.