Judith Ann Jance published her first book as J. A. Jance because her publisher believed readers would not accept a book featuring a male homicide detective that had been written by a woman. The success of Jance’s J. P. Beaumont novels has proven that a woman can create a believable male character. She has also shown that a female law enforcement officer can be popular with the reading public by her Joanna Brady series. Jance’s characters are true to their gender for the most part, acting in typically male or female ways. J. P. Beaumont, for example, is a typical man who is good at his job, attracts women, gradually accepts technology, and learns to have a life away from his job. Joanna Brady remains feminine despite being in a male-dominated profession. Even though she was a tomboy growing up, she sees no reason why she cannot be feminine and be sheriff. Joanna gets dirty and sweaty while doing her job, but she will not smoke a cigar and drink beer with the guys.
Jance has made her characters believable by not making them perfect, allowing readers to relate to J. P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady. While that is one of the reasons J. A. Jance is so popular, another is that she creates a good story. She starts with a corpse and continues with the investigation into what caused the death and the discovery of the murderer. Starting with a murder rather than building up to one may seem backward, but Jance is a master at this type of organization. She is a New York Times best-selling mystery writer, has published more than thirty books, and has sold more than eleven million copies worldwide.