The Seattle that Beau knew as a young policeman is disappearing. The city is awash in the aromas emanating from a glut of coffee bars, the neighborhood outside his condo building has sprouted gallery upon gallery, and even his long cherished diner has evolved into a trendy eatery for local hipsters. But the glam is strictly surface, for the grit under the city's fingernails is caked with blood. Beau and his new partner Sue Danielson, a struggling single parent, are assigned the murder of an elderly woman torched to death in her bed. As their investigation proceeds, Beau and Sue become embroiled in a perilous series of events that will leave them and their case shattered -- and for Beau nothing will ever be the same again.
In his 14th outing (and first in three years), Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont (Name Withheld, etc.) finds, along with his new partner, Sue Danielson, that seemingly ho-hum investigations grow in grim complexity even as personal distractions multiply. The pair has been assigned to investigate the arson death of Agnes Ferman, a woman disliked by just about everyone; the more than $300,000 found tucked away in her garage points to plenty of suspects. In Seattle's Seward Park, meanwhile, a group of costumed, role-playing teens have been using human bones in their games. Beau is warned that the bones may be those of Quinault shaman David Half Moon, and that anyone handling them is in grave danger. Beau scoffs, but when some of those associated with the investigation meet violent ends, he and Sue develop open minds. Adding texture to the doings are Sue's troubles centering around the sudden reappearance of her violent ex-husband, who, uncharacteristically, wants to take their sons on a dream trip to Disneyland. A coincidence--that most of the Seward Park suspects regularly congregate at one of Beau's haunts--stains the narrative, but otherwise Jance, as usual, relates a clean and tightly woven plot distinguished by authentic dialogue, honest emotions and characters readers will care about.