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Reviewed by Krista Castner

Sometimes it’s nice to pick up a new book in a long-running series and know you’re going to have a chance to get caught up with old friends. Betrayal of Trust, the 20th installment in the J.P. Beaumont detective series by J.A. Jance, is one of those kinds of books.

JP Beaumont, or “Beau” as his friends call him, is partnered with his wife Mel Soames on a politically sensitive case involving Washington State’s Governor. The Governor specifically requests Beau to work on this case because they went to high school together. Beau and Mel have to try to track down the source of a snuff film before more victims are caught up in the murder drama.

Usually Seattle is the beloved backdrop in the Beaumont series, but this book takes place primarily in Washington’s capital city, Olympia, and in the outlying rural communities near Olympia. I have to admit that I miss the Seattle setting. But I understand that authors sometimes need to do things to keep characters evolving and stories fresh. Olympia isn’t a bad setting, it’s just not Seattle.

Beau and Mel work as partners on the state’s Special Homicide Investigative Team (S.H.I.T.) There are many references to how much they get razzed because of team’s acronym. (I found this a bit childish and soon grew weary of the reference.) Initially the Governor, Marsha Longmire, discovers what appears to be a snuff film on her step-grandchild’s cell phone and requests an investigation. But the case soon becomes much more complicated as Mel and Beau try to solve the crime before the news hits the press.

Betrayal of Trust tackles teenage poverty, cyber-bullying, teen suicide, and issues of acceptance and inclusion in blended families. That is a lot of territory to cover in the book’s 344 pages, but Jance covered the ground in her usual fast-paced story telling style that kept me interested throughout. Beau and Mel work well together. Mel uses all the latest technology to keep her side of the investigation moving along. Beau, in spite of his bad knees, keeps his side of the investigation moving with more old-fashioned police leg work.

In the midst of the investigation Beau receives a personal email from someone claiming to be a long-lost relative, who may hold the key to his father’s identity. Beau is ambivalent about pursuing any sort of a family reunion. I’ll leave the outcome of this plotline to the readers. If you’re a long time J.P. Beaumont fan like I am, I think you’ll be pleased with how things turn out.

Yes, Beau is starting to show his age. But that’s part of the charm of this series. Beau isn’t a super hero. He’s a normal guy doing the right thing day-in and day-out. In today’s sometime frenetic pace, it’s nice to be able to rely on Beau to get the job done. JA Jance has given us another fun installment in the J.P. Beaumont series.

Rating: 4/5

Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.