Ah that wonderful counter of paperback books at the local Costco. I have been introduced to many writers there and J.A. Jance is the latest although her novels have been published for well over 20 years. I'm glad that I looked at her website before I started writing this. It helped me put my first venture into her writing in perspective.
As I started reading Jance's Justice Denied, I immediately liked her main J. P. Beaumont. I did not realize that this was something like the 18th mystery in the J.P. Beaumont series. And I like his fellow investigator and lover (which is stated in the blurb on the back cover of the paperback) Mel (for Melissa) Soames. And I liked the heart of the story and how a series of crimes came together as part of a conspiracy. The 2nd plot line concerning a cold case was a bit less satisfying but all in all, the mystery aspects were conceived and written well. But something was bothering me.
I was put off a bit by the amount of personal backstory about Beaumont and his family and how much of it intruded on the main storylines. And that is where looking at Jance's website helped. She stated there that, "I come to the task of writing with the understanding that my characters are people first and police officers second." As I read Justice Denied, I was more concerned with the investigation and the "police style" of Beaumont and Soames than I was with all the family matters that seemed to intrude. And I know that is not fair because there are other authors (e.g. Faye Kellerman and her Peter Decker/Rina Lazurus Decker mysteries) where I find the personal lives and backgrounds as fascinating aspects affecting the direction some of the investigations take.
All in all, I enjoyed Justice Denied although, at this point in time, I don't know if I will go back and read the earlier novels in the J.P. Beaumont series. We all have read writers whose style and prose excite us and others who provide an experience that is not so energizing.