J.P. Beaumont and his partner/lover Mel Soames never know what task they'll get next in their jobs for the Special Homicide Investigation Team in Washington state. Mel is currently tracking down the records for information on released sex offenders to update the state's informational database. Beau is assigned a task in looking for cold case missing persons.
Then Beau is approached by the attorney general, his boss. The attorney general wants his to quietly investigate a recent murder of a released prisoner, LaShawn Tompkins, who had been wrongfully arrested for a rape seven years earlier. It was proven he was not guilty, so he was released a year or so earlier with a judgement and cash settlement against the state for wrongful imprisonment. Tompkins answered the door at his home and was shot. Beau isn't supposed to tell anyone, even Mel, what he is doing.
Beau's ailing grandmother dies. They knew it would be soon, but that didn't make it easier. He has to arrange a funeral. He gathers his son and daughter and their families, his grandmother's second husband, and familiy and friends for the services. Although he feels a bit guilty about it, he is able to use the time alloted for "funeral arrangements" and bereavement to investigate Tompkins' family and friends to learn what he can about the murder.
Mel's case starts crossing her personal interests as well. She is involved with an active sexual abuse group that help women who have been victims. Although her group wasn't involved in the cases she is now researching, she can still draw them together. The links are there because of the crimes involved. She also discovers something unsettling. More than the average number of the released prisoners have died in accidents or of natural causes. Perhaps they were murdered instead...
J.A. Jance loves to twist up her stories so that threads often link into each other. Because the books are told in Beau's first person voice, the personal side of their lives is as important as the mysteries. Justice Denied not only deals with women abuse and family death, but with cold case missing persons, the aerospace industry, slum missions, and postnatal depression.
This time the crossing of the twisting threads is a little too unreal. It looks like Jance is stretching to pull Justice Denied together when it really didn't need to be. There are a lot of dangling threads (like the mission and the postnatal depression) that could have been left out or strengthened up.
Despite the unbelieveability of the solutions coming together, Jance has a readable narrative. Jance also touches on the newest problem facing the prison population - the aging of prisoners and their health needs. If picked apart, Justice Denied is a novel to make the reader aware of problems facing society today. If not picked apart, it is still a book to appreciate.
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations
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