Mystery writer J. A. Jance at Puyallup Library Sept. 10

By Danielle Nease

In local mystery writer J. A. Jance’s new novel Dance of the Bones (William Morrow, $26.99), J.P. Beaumont and Brandon Walker—two of Jance’s longtime protagonists—work together for the first time to solve separate, yet intersecting, cold cases, as well as investigate the recent disappearance of the son of a tribal elder. The new novel (and other Walker family novels) is an opportunity for the best-selling author to use what she learned while teaching at the Tohono O’Odham reservation near Tucson, Ariz., and bring it to her readers.

The Tohono O’Odham people have called the Sonoran Desert home for thousands of years, Jance told me during a telephone interview this week, and the name Tucson derives from their word Cuk Son, meaning “at the base of the black hill.” Jance’s first Walker book, Hour of the Hunter (the favorite of all her books, incidentally), introduced several generations of the Tohono O’Odham people—such as Looks at Nothing and Understanding Woman—dating back to the 1880s. In Dance of the Bones, Understanding Woman’s great great great grandson goes missing, and tribal leaders work with Beaumont and Walker to try to bring him home safely.

Jance said she decided to write a cross-over book with Beaumont and Walker as a way for readers who haven’t read both series to get to know each of them. It makes sense that Beaumont and Walker would get along, in part because they are her two earliest protagonists (introduced in 1985 and 1990, respectively). Although cross-overs can be challenging, especially since different characters may belong to different publishers, Jance said she plans to write another cross-over novella featuring her other popular characters, Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds.

Dance of the Bones, Jance’s 51st novel, will be released next week, and Western Washington residents will be among the first to have a chance to meet the author and discuss the new book during local signing events.

In Pierce County, the Puyallup Public Library, located at 324 S. Meridian, will host a brown bag lunch and book signing on Thurs., Sept. 10, between 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tacoma’s King’s Books will have copies of the novel available for purchase at the library. Bring a lunch, meet the author, and have her sign your copy of the book.

Jance said she doesn’t do readings, she does “talkings” to warm up her audience and give them background information about herself and the book, and to inform their perspectives of the book.

More information about Jance is available online at