Fifty years ago, when she was five, Sister Mary Katherine witnessed something terrible . . .
A former Seattle policeman now working for the Washington State Attorney's Special Homicide Investigation Team, J.P. Beaumont has been hand-picked to lead the investigation into a half-century-old murder. An eyewitness to the crime, a middle-aged nun, has now recalled grisly, forgotten details while undergoing hypnotherapy.
It's a case as cold as the grave, and it's running headlong into another that's tearing at Beau's heart: the vicious slaying of his former partner's ex-wife. What's worse, his rapidly unraveling friend is the prime suspect.
Caught in the middle of a lethal conspiracy that spans two generations and a killing that hits too close to home targeted by a vengeful adversary and tempted by a potential romance that threatens to reawaken his personal demons Beaumont may suddenly have more on his plate than he can handle, and far too much to survive.
About the Author
Date of Birth:October 27, 1944
Place of Birth:Watertown, South Dakota
Education:B. A., University of Arizona, 1966; M. Ed. in Library Science, University of Arizona, 1970
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Long Time Gone LPA Novel of Suspense
By J. Jance
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 J. Jance
All right reserved.
Anyone who is dumb enough to live on one side of Lake Washington and work on the other is automatically doomed to spend lots of time stuck in bridge traffic. Such was the case one January morning as I headed for my job as an investigator for the Washington State Attorney's Special Homicide Investigation Team, known fondly to all of us who work there by that unfortunate moniker, the SHIT squad.
I live in Belltown Terrace, a condo at the upper end of Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. My office is sixteen miles away in a south Bellevue neighborhood called Eastgate. That morning's commute was hampered by two separate phenomena, both of which were related to a mid-January blast of arctic air that had come swooping down on western Washington from the Gulf of Alaska. The first traffic hazard was black ice, which had turned most of the minor side streets into skating rinks. Unfortunately, I'm a world-class procrastinator, and the winter weather had snuck up on me while my Porsche 928 was still decked out in summer-performance tires.
The other major traffic hazard was mountains--not driving over them, but seeing them. For nine months of the year, the mountains around Seattle are mostly invisible. Hidden by cloud cover, they sit there minding their own business, but when the "mountains are out," as we say around here, and Mount Rainier emerges in all its snow-clad splendor, trouble is bound to follow. Unwary drivers, entranced by the unaccustomed view, slam into the fenders of the cars in front of them, and traffic comes to a dead stop. The frigid air had left the snowcapped mountains vividly beautiful against a clear blue sky. As a result, I-90 was littered with pieces of scattered sheet metal, chrome-trim pieces, and speeding tow trucks.
Between ice- and gawker-related accidents, my normal twentyminute commute had turned into an hour-long endurance test. Adding insult to injury was the fact that this was my first morning back at work after a weeklong stay in Hawaii. You'll notice I said stay, not vacation, because it wasn't. I was there as father of the groom. Anyone who's been down that road knows it's no cakewalk.
The wedding had come up suddenly when Scott telephoned the day after Christmas to say that he and Cherisse were giving up their long-planned, no-holds-barred, late-summer extravaganza of a wedding in favor of a hastily arranged and low-key affair that would take place on a private beach near Waikiki the second week in January. As plans for the summer wedding had burgeoned out of control, I had been less than thrilled about the way things were going. A lowattendance affair that would consist of bride and groom, best people, and an assortment of parental units was much more to my liking.
I did wonder briefly if a misstep in birth-control planning had accounted for this sudden change in plans. That certainly had been the case when I had masterminded my daughter's hasty marriage to her husband, Jeremy. Now, several years and 1.6 kids later, Kelly and Jeremy were doing just fine, and I had no doubt Scott and Cherisse would do the same. So I rented a tux, booked my hotel room and plane tickets, and was on my way. I didn't find out that I was wrong about the unwed pregnancy bit until after I checked into my hotel room outside Honolulu.
I had just finished stowing my luggage when Dave Livingston stopped by my room to give me the real story.
Dave, by the way, is my first wife's second husband and her official widower. He's also Scott's stepfather and a hell of a nice guy. Right after Karen died, Dave and I both made an extra effort to get along--for the kids' sake. It may have been a phony act to begin with, but over time it's turned real enough. As far as parental units go, Dave and I are all Scott Beaumont has. Dave had flown in from L.A. the night before and had eaten dinner with Cherisse's folks, Helene and Pierre Madrigal, who had arrived on a flight from France the previous day.
There are a number of things I didn't learn about Dave Livingston until the occasion of Scott's wedding. For one thing, he speaks French. I have no idea why an accountant from Southern California would be, or would even need to be, fluent in French, but he was and is. In the course of that initial dinner he had sussed out that Pierre, age fiftyseven, had recently been diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer. He and his wife had decided to postpone his next round of treatment until after the wedding. This bit of bad news no doubt accounted for the sudden change in wedding plans, and rightly so. In my opinion, postponing cancer treatment for any reason is never a good idea. Scott and Cherisse were obviously concerned that by summertime his condition might have deteriorated to the point where traveling to their wedding would be impossible.
And so I found myself in the middle of a wedding event that was complicated by a family health crisis and confounded by limited communication skills. Unlike Dave, I am not fluent in French. My daughter had thoughtfully sent along a French/English phrase book that she thought might be useful. Unfortunately the usual tourist-focused contents made zero mention of PSA counts or prostate difficulties, so I couldn't have talked to Pierre about his situation even if I had wanted ...
Excerpted from Long Time Gone LP by J. Jance Copyright © 2005 by J. Jance. Excerpted by permission.
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