Reviews of a Few Shorts

Stand DownStand Down
A J. P. Beaumont Novella
J.A. Jance
Witness Impulse, July 2015
ISBN 978-0-06-241848-7
Ebook
Also available in mass market paperback

From the publisher—

Life has shifted for J. P. Beaumont. After a tragic accident that devastated—and ultimately disbanded—his Special Homicide Investigaton Team, he accepts that he has left homicide detection behind at this point, but he has a lot of unanticipated free time on his hands. He’s keeping busy with renovations on the new house that he and his wife, Mel Soames, the newly appointed chief of police in Bellingham, Washington, have bought. But new fixtures and paint palettes can occupy only so much of Beau’s daily life, and Mel is encouraging him to return to where he is needed: investigating crimes.

In the meantime, she is struggling to gain control of her new situation, cast into a department where some are welcoming—and some are not. It’s been a few months, and the tension in the police department is rising, but Beau realizes Mel has to tackle things in her own way, so he refrains from advising. But when Beau shows up one afternoon to survey the construction at their new house and finds Mel’s car there but no sign of her, his investigative instincts kick in. Suddenly he’s back in the game—except this time, his heart is on the line as well as his professional dignity.

There are many ways that J.A. Jance shows herself to be a remarkably good writer and Stand Down is one of the best examples. This is a short work but, in just these few words, Ms. Jance paints a living picture of Beau and Mel and their lives. When she takes us through the ungodly hours when everything changed for them, I had tears in my eyes and that just doesn’t happen to me when I’m reading a short because I don’t usually get invested without a full-length novel. Not so this time. My emotions were right out there on my sleeve.

And then Ms. Jance throws out a line like this, guaranteed to make me smile:

It was enough to piss off the Good Fairy.

Ah, yes, back on track again, this time Beau’s search for a missing person who just happens to be his police chief wife. No longer a working homicide detective—not by his choice—Beau reverts to character immediately and, by the time this case is resolved in an odd sort of way, his future is laid out for him. Next on the horizon is a new venture, Dance of the Bones, coming in September 2015. and I can hardly wait to see where life will take this died-in-the-wool cop.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2015.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Drunken FireworksDrunken Fireworks
Stephen King
Read by Tim Sample
AUDIOWORKS/Simon & Schuster Audio, June 2015
ISBN 978-1-4423-8964-9
Unabridged Audio Book

From the publisher—

In this new tour-de-force from Stephen King—unavailable in print or any other format—a salt-of-the-earth Maine native recounts how a friendly annual summer fireworks show rivalry with his neighbor across the lake gradually spirals out of control…with explosive results!

In what came to be known by the locals as the 4th of July Arms Race, Alden McCausland and his Ma let a financial windfall go to their heads. When they set off a lovely fireworks display one Independence Day, the neighbors across the lake, the wealthy Massimos, decide to out-sparkle them. That’s all it takes to rile up Alden and Ma, determined that they will make known to the Massimos and other lake dwellers what a good fireworks show is all about.

Unfortunately, as you might expect in a Stephen King tale, all does not end exactly well (but nearly so). This is one of King’s more “mom-friendly” stories—a little bit of language but nothing horrific, just an entertaining anecdote about a rivalry between neighbors.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2015.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summer RainSummer Rain
An Inspector Banks Short Story
Peter Robinson
William Morrow Impulse, June 2015
ISBN 978-06-241380-2
Ebook

From the publisher—

Inspector Alan Banks confronts one of the most puzzling cases of his career— when a tourist claims that several decades earlier, in a previous life, he witnessed a murder committed nearby.

Banks doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Or superstition. But when evidence of a crime comes to light, he begins to wonder: How did this mysterious visitor know about a killing possibly committed before he was born?

When Jerry Singer announces that he was murdered 32 years ago, DCI Banks is skeptical, to say the least, but it’s a boring day so he decides to look into this highly questionable event. After all, what if this purported murder really did happen? Besides, Inspector Banks would much rather sniff around a possible cold case than do paperwork.

The mystery here is slight but Summer Rain is a nice introduction for a reader new to the series. Mr. Robinson unquestionably has a way with words and his description of the Yorkshire Dales takes me back to the one trip I made there many years ago. The Inspector Banks novels can be comfortably read as standalones and I have, in fact, missed a few here and there but I’m really looking forward to In the Dark Places, coming out in August.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2015.

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