Child pornography and revenge figure into this well-crafted novel featuring detective J.P. Beaumont.
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October 26, 2004
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Excerpt from Failure to Appear by J.A. Jance
It had started only three days earlier, although now that seemed a lifetime ago. It began with. a ringing telephone and with me cursing the noisy instrument that I regard as technology's worst blight on the human race. Telephones follow me everywhere, Even in my car. There is no escape.
The blaring phone jarred me to my senses sometime around seven o'clock on a drizzly Saturday morning toward the end of June. Friday night had been a late one. I wasn't nearly ready to. rise and shine, but homicide cops at Seattle P.D. are used to unscheduled, early-morning wake-up calls.,
Around what locals call the Emerald City, people tend to knock each other off in the middle. of the night or in the wee small hours of the morning, especially right after the bars, close on weekends. If I the work load -- gets too heavy for the regular night-duty squad to handle, they start calling for reinforcements. Being off-duty doesn't, mean you're home free. When your name comes up on the rotation, you're called and you go in, regardless of what you may or may not have been doing the night before. Having a personal life is no excuse.
I figured my early morning phone call meant it had been another one of those busy Saturday-night-special Friday nights around Seattle P.D.
"Beaumont here," I grumbled into the phone, wishing we could somehow convince the city's crooks -- the gangs, the thugs, and the variously affiliated, drug dealers -- to use each other for target practice during regular day time eight-hour shifts. "What up?"
"This is Dave," an unfamiliar male voice replied. "You know, David Livingston?"
I was still muffled in a warm, sleep-induced cocoon, and this joker had me stumped. I could have sworn, I didn't know anyone in the whole wide world by the name of David Livingston. The telephone must have passed along my blank silence, because a moment later good ol'Dave gave me a helpful hint.
"You may not remember, but we met once, a while ago down in Wickenburg, Arizona. I don't think we were ever properly introduced."
Jump-started now, the old brain finally fired and caught hold. Of course! That Dave Livingston. My ex-wife's second husband. No wonder I didn't recognize him!
I sat up a little straighter in bed. Of all people, what did Dave Livingston think he was doing calling me up? So early on an otherwise peaceful Saturday morning that I had not yet tasted a single sip of coffee, here was Dave, already up and about and letting his fingers do the walking.
In a universe full of complicated matrimonial merry-go-rounds, second husbands don't often reach out and touch first husbands. By telephone, that is. It isn't done. Not unless it's a dire emergency a matter of life or death or missing child support. We're all reasonable adults, but there is a limit.,
Now, though, I heard Dave,talking to me as calmly as if conversations between us were an everyday occurrence. Since child support has never. been a source of controversy, my mind leaped instantly to all the other worst possible conclusions.
"Dave,"I croaked. "'What is it? Karen?"
He paused a moment and cleared his throat. "No, not Karen.