S. T. HAYMON – A Beautiful Death. Ben Jurnet #7. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 1994. No US paperback edition. First published in the UK: Constable, hardcover, 1993.

   The “S”in S. T. stands for Sylvia, if you didn’t know. This prima facie remarkable lady is now 76, and pulished the first Jurnet book when she was 62.

   DI Ben Jurnet is so weary that he can’t quite wake up when his lover tries to tell him she’s taking his car because hers won’t start. He never sees her again, because the car explodes when she starts it. Incapacitated by grief for a time, he finally begins to look in the past and present for answers.

   Official inquiries focus on the IRA, who are quick to claim responsibility, and indeed Jurnet travels to Ireland after a guest of Irish neighbors vanishes. But there are enemies from his own past to consider, too, including a petty crook who blames Jurnet for his brother’s crippling, and an ex-political figure who blames him for his wife’s death. Too, he must cope with how the tragedy has affected his impending conversion to Judaism.

   This is a powerfully written book. Jurnet’s grief at the loss of his lover is almost overwhelming in its intensity, and the novel is as much of his coming to terms with it as it is a detective story. Haymon has much to say about violence, and guilt, and blame, and the ways people cope with them.

   Her characterizations are strong, the saturnine Jurnet and his superior in particular, and her prose is clear and illuminating. I think it’s time that this lady is recognized for what she is: one of the better serious crime novelists practicing today. If you aren’t familiar with her, you owe it to yourself to become so.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #12, March 1994.

[UPDATE.] Unfortunately there was to be only one additional book in Haymon’s Ben Jurnet series. Death of a Hero was published in 1996, one year after her death in 1995.