Failure to Appear (J.P. Beaumont #11) by J.A. Jance


“A desperate father’s search for his runaway daughter has led him to the last place he ever expected to find her: backstage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But the murders in this dazzling world of make-believe are no longer mere stagecraft, and the blood is all too real. The hunt for his child has plunged former Seattle Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont into a bone-chilling drama of revenge, greed, and butchery, where innocents are made to suffer in perverse and terrible ways. And many more young lives are at stake, unless he can uncover the villain of the piece before the final, deadly curtain falls.”

-Synopsis from back cover


Cover image from StoryGraph

*light spoilers ahead*

Failure to Appear is book eleven in the Beaumont series and even though I’ve been reading these sparingly, I can’t believe I’m already this far into the series. Some of the books have seen Beau outside of Seattle for various reasons but still getting caught up in murder cases nonetheless, and this is one of them.

Personal reasons see Beau traveling to Ashland, Oregon. The synopsis is vague about “a father searching for his runaway daughter” and no, I didn’t catch that the father in question here would be Beau. I think this was done purposely so the reader wouldn’t know that this book was going to feature Beau’s personal life very heavily.

Did I like that Beau’s entire family was involved in this case? Not really. I didn’t think it did much for his character except bring out the worst in him. Did I like Alexis? Even less! But I would rather see him navigate that relationship than deal with his kids and ex-wife. I have gotten used to Beau being a lone-wolf type of character and even though he has a past and a family, the fact that they aren’t featured prominently in the books was getting to be the norm.

His personal life dramas take up about the first hundred pages of the book before a murder even occurs. It wasn’t dragging exactly but it just wasn’t what I expected from a Beaumont book. Even when the murder does come up, Beau is only peripherally involved in it and he keeps making decisions to get more and more involved even when being told specifically by local law enforcement to stop.

I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first. There are some red herrings which I always enjoy, and a surprise ending that looking back, I could have guessed that person had something to do with it if I had looked a little closer. This book has us seeing Beau as more of a “whole person” than any have so far. Still, I hope book twelve has us back on track with Beau in Seattle solving a solo case (and hopefully breaking up with Alexis!).

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