Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting set up and great twists
Cons: Characters not as sharp, plot stalls a bit near end
The Bottom Line:
Tracking down client
Leads Kinsey to complex web
Fun case for readers
Trouble from a Bounced Check
I know many authors struggle with explaining where they get the ideas for their novels. But as a reader, I often find it fascinating. Take "D" is for Deadbeat, the fourth Kinsey Milhone Mystery from Sue Grafton. It starts out simply enough, but the book quickly takes off in a surprising new direction.
It’s a Saturday in the fall and Kinsey is in her office trying to catch up on some paperwork. She isn’t expecting any new clients to walk in so she is surprised when she finds a man standing in her doorway. He introduces himself as Alvin and asks Kinsey to track down someone named Tony for him and give that person a check. Kinsey’s not sure she completely believes the story he tells about how he got the money and why he wants to give it to Tony, but she accepts the job along with an advanced check for her services. As Alvin is leaving, he lobs the first surprise Kinsey’s way – Tony is a teenager.
A couple of days later, her bank lets her know that the check from Alvin bounced. Frustrated, she treks down from her native Santa Teresa to Los Angeles to track down Alvin. Only then does she learn that Alvin isn’t his real name. His young wife says that he is back up in Santa Teresa, but before Kinsey can track him down, “Alvin” is dead. Will Kinsey find Tony? Who would want her client dead?
Maybe it’s just because I don’t read many PI novels, but making the connection from bounced check to murder and the complications it leads is not something I would ever come up with. And yet it works wonderfully here in this novel. The plot makes complete sense as it unfolds before us, and there are some fun twists along the way. I did feel the novel stalled out a little as it neared the climax, but the climax will leave you turning pages quickly.
The characters in this series are usually very sharp and distinct. I thought they weren’t quite as memorable this time around, but again that was a minor issue overall. And maybe that was just me since we meet a group that is overly obnoxiously Christian and I didn’t care for them at all. Kinsey is still a wonderful lead character. A couple of supporting characters really only make cameos here, and I found I missed them, although I’m definitely curious where the subplot involving Kinsey’s love life is going to lead.
Once again, I listened to the audio version narrated by Mary Peiffer. She is an outstanding narrator, and brings the characters and story to life without getting in the way of the story.
The creative direction of this story will keep you entertained from beginning to end. "D" is for Deadbeat is another fun case for Kinsey to solve.
You'll definitely want to read more of Kinsey's adventures.
This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.