Taking the Fifth (J.P. Beaumont #4) by J.A. Jance

Synopsis

“There are many bizarre and terrible ways to die. Seattle Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont thought he had seen them all–until he saw this body, its wounds, and the murder weapon: an elegant woman’s shoe, its stiletto heel gruesomely caked with blood. The evidence is shocking and unsettling, even for a man who prowls the shadows for a living, for it suggests that savagery is not the exclusive domain of the predatory male. And the scent of a stylish killer is pulling Beaumont into a world of drugs, corruption, and murder to view close-up a cinematic dream at its most nightmarish lethal.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

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Cover of Taking the Fifth by J.A. Jance
Cover image from Goodreads

Taking the Fifth is the fourth book in the J.P. Beaumont series. The crime in this story involves a murder, followed closely by the death of the roommate of the victim. Coincidence? Beau doesn’t think so. He believes the Seattle P.D. has two murders on their hands.

In the last book, Beau’s partner at the Seattle P.D., Ron Peters, was involved in a serious accident that put him on extended leave. Lucky for us, that doesn’t mean he’s not still involved in the story. Peters is the one who puts Beau on the trail that takes him to the theater where the murder victim worked, which is where the story kicks off.

At the theater, Beau meets Jasmine Day, a singer who is in town doing two shows in Seattle. I was intrigued by Jasmine Day and her backstory. I thought it was overshadowed, though, and two things about this kind of bugged me.

  • Beau becomes romantically involved with Jasmine Day. It really doesn’t make him look good to see this happening yet again, and it shows that he doesn’t take women seriously enough to consider that they may be involved in a crime
  • In addition to that, it made it the reader think that Jasmine Day shouldn’t be taken seriously, when I actually found Jasmine Day to be the most compelling character out of all of them (other than one of the victims), and she proved to be vital to the case

Aside from that, the amount of characters in this story did make it a little hard to follow the overall investigation. I wonder if two murders was too many? The one victim and his backstory, connections, etc. seemed to provide a lot of ground for Beau to cover. The second victim didn’t seem to serve a purpose beyond giving Beau a reason to be homophobic (see below).

This book was published in 1987 and it screams of being written in a different era. In some ways it is entertaining, such as the fact that Beau regularly has to find a pay phone to call down to the police station, and that he relies heavily on his answering machine to get important message, etc. In other ways, it is less entertaining. There is a lot of homophobia and anti-gay rhetoric in this particular book. It is likely going to offend to most readers. If you draw the line at this, I can completely understand., and would recommend skipping this one altogether.

This was a quick read for me. The next book is Improbable Cause which I hope to get to soon. I am eager to see Beau mature and get the attitude change that so many readers say comes in the later books.

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