It looks like a classic crime of passion to Detective J.P Beaumont: two corpses found lovingly entwined in a broom closet of the Seattle School District building. The prime suspect, Pete Kelsey, admits his slain spouse was no novice at adultery, yet he swears he had nothing to do with the brutal deaths of the errant school official and her clergyman-turned-security guard companion. Beau believes him, but there's something the much sinned-upon widower's not telling -- and that spells serious trouble still to come. Because the secret Pete's protecting is even hotter than extra-marital sex. . . and it could prove more lethal than murder.
In his ninth appearance, Detective J. P. Beaumont of the Seattle Police is swamped with problems: a pair of corpses at the public school district office, and the unwelcome assistance of self-promoting Detective Paul Kramer. Marcia Kelsey, a district employee, and Alvin Chambers, a security guard, are found partially naked, legs entwined, dead of gunshot wounds. A note found nearby says, ``A, See you tonight at the usual time. M.'' When Pete Kelsey learns that his wife may have been having an affair with Chambers, he calmly observes that she had always had ``outside interests.'' Kramer is itching to pin the murders on Kelsey, and when the husband's name and identity turn out to be fake, the overly ambitious detective is ready to press charges. But Beaumont learns how 20 years of mostly innocent deceit have finally come to bear deadly fruit. This entertaining work moves along at a sprightly pace, sprinkling delicious clues along the way, but readers may conclude that Jance ( Minor in Possession ) isn't playing quite fair--Beaumont misses a crucial identification that a peripheral character makes easily late in the book. Author tour. (Mar.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 29, 2004
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Excerpt from Payment in Kind by J.A. Jance
The first thing I noticed that morning was the quiet, the deathly quiet. And then I noticed I was cold. For the first time since Karen divorced me, leaving me in sole possession of the covers and taking her perpetually frigid feet elsewhere, I woke up with cold feet, and not just feet, either.
It took a while to figure out that what was missing was the comforting rumble of the building's heat pumps on the roof outside my penthouse apartment. It was not quite sunrise on a wintry early January morning, and those warmth-giving pumps were definitely off. Had been for some time. My bedroom was freezing.
I put in an irate call to the manager, who confirmed what I already knew. The heat pumps had "gone on the blink." For some unaccountable reason, the heat pumps in Belltown Terrace, a luxury high-rise condominium in downtown Seattle, are built to function fine in temperatures all the way down to fourteen degrees Fahrenheit. Down to, but not below.
So when the thermometer hit a record-breaking six degrees above zero sometime during the late night hours of January second, Belltown Terrace's overworked heat pumps kicked off entirely. By the time I woke up several hours later, the thermometer in my apartment read a chilly forty-five.
Leaving the manager to summon the proper repairmen, I headed for the warmest spot in my house -the two-person hot tub in the master bathroom. I turned on the air jets and climbed into the steaming water, fully prepared to stay there for as long as necessary.
I lay in the tub with my eyes closed and my head resting comfortably against one of the upholstered cushions. Reveling in luxurious warmth, I was jarred from my torpor by a jangling telephone in the chilled bedroom behind me. Weeks earlier, Ralph Ames, my gadget-minded attorney in Arizona, had hinted broadly that I might want to consider buying myself a cordless phone, but I hadn't taken his advice. Now I wished I had.