In more than 40 books—including dozens in the J.P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady series—J.A. Jance has figured out the formula for mystery fiction. In her latest, Queen of the Night, she shows how to bend that formula into something unique.
Like any good mystery, Queen of the Night begins with a murder; unlike many others, it actually begins with three murders, spanning 50 years. In Jance’s return to the Walker family stories begun in Hour of the Hunter, the bulk of the action takes place over the course of one long weekend in June in and around Tucson. It’s the weekend when the rare Queen of the Night cactus flower blooms for just several hours, but that beauty will be counteracted by one man’s acts of violence and the law enforcement officials who converge on the case.
Jance dashes back and forth between multiple subplots and timelines, more than occasionally over-complicating her narrative. But, unlike many plot-machine mysteries, Queen of the Night explores some complicated ideas about the connections of family, and about people whose spirits allow them to form families based on more than blood. This isn’t a “whodunit,” because the answer to that question is always clear; it’s more interesting to look at “whydunit,” and why others respond to the disappointments in their lives differently.
Join the author for a reading and signing this week. The event is free, but seating is limited and advance registration is required.
J.A. Jance: Queen of the Night @ Whitmore Library, 2197 E. Fort Union Blvd., 801-944- 7521, July 31, 2 p.m. Free with advance registration @ KingsEnglish.com