Book Review – Second Watch by J.A. Jance

Published September 23, 2013 by The Book Momster

second watchRating – 5 stars

I LOVE J.P. Beaumont!  I first read Jance around 3 years ago.  The first book I read by her was Desert Heat – Joanna Brady’s 1st book.  I wanted to read more, but since I’m a person that needs to read a series in order and knowing that the Joanna Brady series eventually intersected with Beaumont, I went to Jance’s website and made myself a list of the Beaumont and Brady books in order of when they were released and began reading in order.  Crazy I know, but let’s move on.  Pretty soon I figured out that I like the Brady books, but love Beaumont.  I also want to preface this review by saying if you’ve never read Jance and want to read this book, please do so.  However, I highly recommend you begin by reading the first Beaumont novel, Until Proven Guilty, first.  It is the story of Beau and Anne Corley and really sets the stage for the rest of his books.

When last we saw Beau and Mel, he was in need of a double knee replacement.  That’s where our story begins – Beau going into the hospital for his procedure.  While there, he’s given some obviously awesome drugs which leads him to have vivid dreams/memories and “visits” from two ghosts of his past.  The first is Monica Wellington, his first homicide case that was never solved and the second is Lennie D., his leader from Vietnam that saved Beau’s life and lost his in service.  He had asked Beau to tell his fiancée that he loved her and Beau had never made contact.  As a result, Beau sets out to resolve both of these things while recovering from his surgery.

I typically never like a story that deals with flashbacks.  Most of the time I end up speed reading because I just want to get back to present day and on with the story.  Jance does an amazing job of weaving the past and present together to tell not only a great mystery, but an extremely poignant story of the Vietnam era and the way people continue to honor those lost today.  Making an appearance is none other than Sheriff Joanna Brady – you can appreciate this more if you read both series, but you aren’t missing anything if you haven’t.  I loved reading about his adventures on the Wellington case because it happened in 1973 and it’s always fun to read about mystery solving before the technology age and to really think about how far we’ve come in crime solving.  Monica Wellington’s case would have probably been solved pronto had it occurred today.

As Beau himself admits, his Vietnam past has never really been discussed.  Exploring that in this book was a great secondary storyline.  It’s a rare book that makes me cry, but I was teary at the end of this book.  Then once the story ends, there is another few pages called “The Story Behind Second Watch.”  I could barely finish reading it because I was crying like a little girl.  I was so moved to learn that while details of the Vietnam storyline are fiction, the characters depicted were/are real.  I can’t decide if I would have rather have known that before or after, but the story Jance tells of her real-life Lennie D. is very sweet and you can’t read it ahead of the book because it does give away things that happen in the book, but do take time to read it once you’re done.

Also in the background of this book, Mel is off working a case herself involving potential police brutality.  Sometimes you will read a book with so many different storylines going on that you feel everything is shortchanged.  I didn’t feel that way in this book.  Each storyline leads to a resolution that left me feeling satisfied and not wondering or wanting more.  Well, okay, I always want more Beaumont, but eventually the current book has to end.

All in all, I think this is one of the best Beaumont books written.  I wish more authors (particularly one whose name I won’t mention) took some lessons from Jance.  She writes three series – I admit I’ve not started the Ali Reynolds series…yet.  The first is on my Nook waiting for me.  However, what she does effortlessly is write great suspense novels and I never feel as if she’s sacrificing one series for another.  Beaumont is still great today even though she also writes the Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds series.  She proves you do not have to disappoint fans of one series to focus efforts on another you may want to write. 

While Beau may be my favorite of hers and I may be an impatient person waiting for the next Beaumont book (it usually takes about 2-3 years now), it’s so worth the wait.  In the meanwhile I have Joanna to keep me company and soon Ali will join the mix as well.

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