“Proof of Life” by J. A. Jance is number 23 in the J. P. Beaumont series, but it is not necessary to have read the other books to enjoy this one. Any needed background information is provided as part of the story.
“Proof of Life” is a first person narrative by Jonas Piedmont Beaumont, called “Beau” by many. Now 72 and retired, he and his current wife, Melissa Soames, live in Bellingham where she is the Chief of Police. Beau kept his condominium in Seattle, and both he and Melissa spend time there when it is convenient.
He is rather bored with retirement, so when longtime adversary, retired Seattle crime reporter Maxwell Cole, dies under suspicious circumstances, he takes this opportunity to investigate what happened. Of course, the investigation is complicated; he has to run down people from the past as well as criminals from around the neighborhood, all without his familiar law enforcement tools and authority
This is not a formula book with continuing characters just dropped into a random plot line. Beau has aged, mellowed, and improved his eating habits over the past books. The easy conversational style gives the reader the feeling of sitting with J.P. chatting, sharing memories of his life. The story unfolds layer after layer as Beau tried to untangle the mess surrounding Cole’s death. To complicate matters, he also is dog sitting for a family forced to move to a shelter as the result of domestic violence.
The pace is casual and easy but the story is not without twists, turns, and danger. Every reader will love this book. Those who have followed Beau through, now, 23 books will love this one. New readers will absolutely want to go back and look at Beau’s earlier adventures. And, of course, Jance gives readers a few little hints about what Beau will be doing with his time in the next book.