I love to get lost in a good book. Mysteries are my favorite. I like to read along as the investigator puts the clues together and solves the puzzle. Unlike life, the mysteries I read usually have the puzzle worked out in 300 pages with the good guys triumphant and the bad guys packed off to jail. I especially like series, where the author reintroduces characters that I have loved from previous books and develops them further.
One of my favorite mystery writers is J. A. Jance. I started reading her books with the Sheriff Joanna Brady series. I have read every one of these books, growing to love the Brady family as the daughter has gotten older and Joanna has remarried. The characters do not stand still – they get older just as the rest of us do. Joanna has learned on the job, gotten better at solving cases, and acts appropriately to delegate authority (she isn’t the damsel in distress – ever). There are 21 Joanna Brady mysteries.
Because I enjoyed this series so much, I started on the J.P. Beaumont series. J.P. Beaumont was J. A. Jance’s first series character and has also appeared in 21 books. As I have read through the series (I try to start with the first ones published and read them in order by getting them from the library), “Beau” has gone from being a bad husband and father and an alcoholic to building a relationship with his adult children, getting remarried, and getting sober. The recurring characters in the series are interesting, but not overused. I especially like his new wife, “Mel,” who is his partner and equal in every sense of the word.
The most recent series started by J.A. Jance is my least favorite. The main character, Ali Reynolds, is a woman who is always finding dead bodies or getting stuck in the middle of situations where she figures out the answer before anyone else. I find this character unrealistic and the other characters in the series are not as intriguing as the characters in the J.P. Beaumont or Joanna Brady series. There are nine books in this series. I do not recommend this series and probably will not read another one. I can’t say for sure, however, because even a bad J.A. Jance mystery is better than a lot of other books.