20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 5 – Tales of the City

Arriving at our fifth and final post suggesting twenty essential Seattle books, after posts highlighting historyraceplace, and Northwest classics, we finish with a handful of novels evocative of our city and its culture.

There are several good mystery series set in Seattle, but when a fictional detective has been on our rain-soaked streets for three decades his casebook offers real perspective. Homicide detective J.P Beamont made his debut in 1985 in J.A. Jance’s Until Proven Guilty, hunting the twisted killer of a young girl while frequenting such vanished local landmarks as the Doghouse. Over twenty titles later, Beaumont still patrols Seattle’s seamy side, most recently in Dance of the Bones. (For readers who prefer a lighter touch, check out G.M. Ford’s classic Who the Hell is Wanda Fuca? starring wisecracking Seattle P.I. Leo Waterman.) Continue reading “20 Essential Seattle Books, Part 5 – Tales of the City”

Crime: If you like J.A. Jance mysteries …

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 ReFind Left for Dead in the library catalogynolds 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.

And now back to Beaumont: Fans can look forward to a new book later this year. And while I have you here, a bit of Beaumont nostalgia for you:Menu from the Dog House