The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by
Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the
Books category on the far right sidebar.
The latest books by New York Times best-selling author J.A.
Jance have very powerful themes. The
mystery, Second Watch, is a J.P.
Beumont novel in which the main character delves into his days in Viet Nam. Her
second book, a re-release, After The Fire,
is the author’s memoir in poetry and prose about her years trying to save her
alcohol addicted husband. Jance’s writing style engrosses the reader in a
storyline that is full of insightful material surrounding her personal
After The Fire is the
journey of the downward trend in her life, how she constantly tried to cure her
first husband. She wants others to
understand that “people can rise above their problems. After he unsuccessfully
went through treatment nine times I decided to divorce him. It was done to save myself because my anger
got larger and larger as I chronicled in the poem, ‘Hidden Agenda.’ There was no laughter in my voice, and no
smiles on my face. Sometimes tough love does not work. Given the final choice of me or booze he chose
Jance also references alcohol addiction in her fictional
books. Second Watch discusses the main character Beaumont’s alcohol
addiction. The author described to
blackfive.net how his drinking got worse over the course of the first seven
books, putting him in treatment in book eight, and remaining sober ever
since. Using the experiences of her
first marriage she describes Beau’s demons.
Jance noted, unlike her first husband, Beau is “someone easy to like who
realizes his faults and battles them. He
realizes what is necessary to lead a successful life.”
Intertwined with the potent issue of alcoholism is losing a
loved one to war. The most powerful parts of the book are when Beaumont thinks
back to his days fighting in Viet Nam and his commanding officer, Lennie Davis.
He is based on Doug Davis, a high school classmate of Jance. She successfully portrays the debts Americans
owe to those who served in that war. The
inspiration for the story came about as Jance remembered Doug’s service and
sacrifice as well as his fiancé, Bonnie Abney, who was left behind. Both Doug
and Bonnie’s story are told through Beau’s memories.
Jance told BlackFive.net, “There is a huge piece of me in
the book. I had my character Beau find
his Purple Heart hidden away in a box because he never saw himself as a hero,
and was influenced by society’s reaction to Viet Nam vets coming home. I could
not let go of the story, because I needed closure regarding Doug. To honor Doug,
I put a photo of him at the end of the book.
It was taken two days before he died.”
Readers should not forget that first and foremost Second Watch is a suspenseful murder
mystery. The mystery involves a cold case that J. P. Beaumont, the main
character, was unable to solve while a Seattle rookie detective. He is a no
nonsense guy while solving a case or facing his demons. As in all her Beaumont
books Jance gives a shout-out to police detectives. Since this was a cold case there is the
underlying theme of how police are haunted by the broken promises to the
victim’s family for not being able to provide closure, the case that could
never be solved.
In both books Jance is able to create a storyline that is
poignant and captivating. She does not
lecture, and instead crafts very powerful plots. In reading her books people can get a glimpse
into who she is and where she has been. After
The Fire and Second Watch are
very riveting, fast-paced, and insightful books.