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Birds of Prey (J. P. Beaumont Mysteries, No. 15) Mass Market Paperback – January 8, 2002

116 customer reviews
Book 15 of 20 in the J. P. Beaumont Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

After 20 years in the Seattle Police Department, J.P. Beaumont has been put out to pasture. The hero of 14 J.A. Jance crime novels has called it quits after the murder of his partner. But if Beau is out to pasture, what is he doing out at sea? Beau is on the Starfire Breeze, an Alaskan cruise ship, "for one reason and one reason only: to serve as my newlywed grandmother's chaperon."

He's also getting mistaken for a gold-digging gigolo by a band of middle-aged divorcées, led by one Margaret Featherman, who carries an anything-but- featherlight grudge against her ex-husband, successful neurosurgeon Harrison Featherman. Is it just a coincidence (as both claim) that Margaret and Harrison are on the same cruise ship? Or that Margaret is doing her best to seduce one of her husband's patients, who in turn has a crush on the good doctor's daughter?

But the biggest potential coincidence of all is a horrific one, when Margaret is pushed overboard into the icy Alaskan waters. The only witness to the murder is an Alzheimer's victim. But when Beau starts poking around (after mistaken identity issue number two, in which the captain conveniently assumes he's an FBI agent), he discovers that Harrison was himself the target of a conservative medical ethics group with a deadly agenda. As the ship moves slowly amidst the icebergs, Beau finds out that there's a lot hidden under these particular waters.

When Jance concentrates on the mechanics of her story, this Beaumont novel is perfectly entertaining. But when she strives for sentiment (or humor), her style tends toward an aw-shucks ham-handedness. Here's Beau talking about his partner, killed by an abusive ex-husband: "Her sons are orphans, and no amount of psychobabble from Dr. Majors is going to change that. No amount of talking it over and 'getting it out of my system' will alter the fact that Sue won't be there to see her boys graduate from high school or college. She'll never be the mother of the groom at a wedding or have the chance to cradle a newborn grandchild in her arms." If Beau is thinking about coming out of retirement, one hopes he'll stick to the basics. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Those who found Jance's previous suspense thriller, 2000's Kiss of the Bees, too strong to stomach can rest easy, as this latest is a crowd-pleaser featuring her series character J.P. Beaumont. The retired Seattle homicide detective has joined a luxury cruise to the Alaskan glaciers at the request of his honeymooning octogenarian grandmother, who fears there may be mischief aboard. The unattached middle-aged women at his table assume Beau is along to land a rich widow or divorc‚e. Beau soon finds he has to be particularly wary of the group's formidable ringleader, Margaret Featherman, whose surgeon ex-husband has invented a procedure that vastly improves the lives of brain-damaged patients. When the ship's video monitor later catches Margaret falling to her death off the stern, the only witness is Alzheimer's patient Mike Conyers, who noticed that Margaret's mouth was taped shut. Beau starts a murder investigation centered on Leave It to God, a religious organization whose members believe that "God put sickness and disease on this earth as a lesson in suffering for everybody" and so disapprove of Dr. Featherman's work. When during a port call someone pushes Mike off the back of a mountain railway car, it seems more than coincidence. Jance, author also of the Joanna Brady series, uses the leisurely pace of the cruise for her hero to reexamine past wounds as well as to display his customary dry wit. Travel buffs and Jance fans are in for a great mini-vacation. 5-city author tour; simultaneous HarperAudio and Harper Large Print edition. Agent, Alice Volpe of the Northwest Literary Agency.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380716542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380716548
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and Edge of Evil, the first in a series featuring Ali Reynolds. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Blanche deBris on March 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was my first J.A. Jance novel, and if I had only this to go on, I probably wouldn't read another. Fortunately, other readers here have indicated it may be weaker than her usual work, so I'll give her another shot or two.
First off, what is the reason for the title of the book? Okay, it's set on an Alaska cruise, and birds of prey (such as Bald Eagles) are abundant in Alaska. However, birds are not even mentioned in the book, and, as far as metaphors go, I don't believe any of the murder suspects on board could be thought of as predators.
Second, I didn't believe Beau's explanation for being on the cruise ship in the first place. His newlywed grandma wanted him there in case she or her groom took ill or something. Don't they have medical doctors on board (or in nearby ports) for that very reason? What more could her grandson provide? And even if you swallow that, why would Beau sit at a different table from the octogenarians at dinner? He says it's to give them their privacy, but heck, he's already on their honeymoon cruise with them, and it's not like they're not sitting with a bunch of other people anyway. Jance's explanations for things that have to be a certain way to further the plot are too thin -- I could see right through them. I wish she'd found another way -- surely Beau could have been seated separately due to a cruiseline screw-up or something.
Another thing: Beau takes an immediate dislike to Margaret Featherman, and it's hard to see why. He goes on and on about how obnoxious she is when they meet at dinner the first night (they're seated at the same table).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Silver Springer on September 22, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After many years as a homocide detective with the Seattle PD, J.P. "Beau" Beaumont has now retired. In this addition to the series, he is on a cruise to Alaska as a chaperone to his 86 year old grandmother, Beverly and her 87 year old husband (and Beau's AA sponsor)Lars. Early in the cruise, a wealthy divorcee goes missing and a murder plot is suspected. Beau of course can't relax and immediately gets involved in several plots. There are a number of side plots involving cruise passengers and another murder. Lars' reminiscences of his Alaska days as a fisherman are also quite entertaining. It does seem to be a stretch that Beau as a civilian has as much access to crime scenes as a policeman. He is eager to help and get involved which shows he has not accomodated himself to the role of retired ex-cop.
The story proceeds at a fast pace and was entertaining but still was not of the higher quality of some of the earlier J.P. Beaumont series. I look forward to reading Partners in Crime, when Beau works for the Washington State Attorney General's office and teams up with Joanna Brady......
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
After twenty long years on the Seattle police force, J.P. Beaumont retires. The traumatic incident from last year on top of his ex-wife's death proves too much for J.P. Though he has a good job waiting for him, J.P. chaperones his step-grandfather and grandmother on an Alaskan cruise. The two octogenarians feel they need a much younger person to handle matters if something happens to one of them.

Though cruise ships are supposed to be relaxing, Beau becomes involved in one incident after another. He obtains proof that a patron, J.P.'s dining companion, was dumped overboard by persons unknown. The FBI asks J.P. to keep an eye on the participants of a medical conference because some of the guests might be targets of extremists. One of the individuals J.P. guards almost dies and an Alzheimer's patient goes overboard and dies on a train ride under suspicious circumstances. J.P. begins to seek the identity of the perpetrator before someone else dies.

J.P. Beaumont has entertained readers for years and the his latest starring role in BIRDS OF PREY still contain his sardonic humor, compassion to his elderly grandparents, and friendly courtesy to the ship's patrons who make him feel like a real hero. He easily returns to his police role when strange things occur and he is so good at it, the Feds enlist his assistance. The audience will want J.P. starring in another tale soon.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TundraBee on February 25, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jonas Piedmont Beaumont (Beau) has retired from the Seattle PD, homicide. Now he's on an Alaskan Honeymoon Cruise with his 86 year old grandmother and her blushing new 87 year old groom as a kind of Chaperone/EMT. He's hoping to have a good time and forget all the corpses in the closet of his former occupation. Such is not to pass. A group of socio-medico zealots calling themselves "Leave It To God," are homicidally opposed to Doctors, researchers and patients pursing modern medical advancements and heroic measures that save lives that prior to the advancements would have been left in God's hands. Are they stalking attendees of the medical conference on board?
This is not the "Love Boat." People are dying and Beau is back on the case. This was my first reading of J.A. Jance and I enjoyed the cruise. Alaskan fun facts, history, and travelogue are included at no extra charge. The Quixotic quest is on!
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