Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: "H" is for Homicide by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #8)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good first half; Kinsey
Cons: Very slow second half; homicide an after thought
The Bottom Line:
An insurance case
Gets bogged down in second half
Weakest book so far

“H” is for Half Good

I knew that even longtime fans of the Kinsey Milhone series admit there are some sub-par books in the series, and I wasn’t sure when that started.  In my opinion, “H” is for Homicide is that first disappointing book in the series.

This book opens with a shocking murder.  Over the last couple of months, PI Kinsey Milhone has gotten to know Parnell Perkins, a new employee at California Fidelity, the insurance company where she has office space.  They usually got out for drinks after work two or three times a week.  So, Kinsey is shocked when she swings by the office after several days out of town to learn he’s been shot in the parking lot.  The trail seems to have grown cold, too, and soon the case disappears from the headlines.

Kinsey herself is soon distracted by a new case.  California Fidelity has asked her to look into a claim filed by Bibianna Diaz.  Something seems off about the claim, and Kinsey quickly agrees.  Her strategy is to get close to the woman and find out what is really happening.  But how will Kinsey handle the curve balls of this case?

Before I go further, I have a rant.  When you are doing alphabet mysteries, homicide is an obvious choice for “H”, so the title doesn’t surprise me.  But if that’s the case, wouldn’t you expect the actual homicide to be a main focus of the book?  It isn’t.  Instead, we focus on insurance fraud, which is a great case, but could have easily been the plot for the next book in the series, “I”.

Setting that rant aside, the book starts out well as Kinsey gets close to Bibianna in hopes of proving the obvious.  There were some good twists that made her life much more complicated.  And then the book got bogged down in the second half.  We get a different story than the book promised by the beginning, too.  It really does feel like author Sue Grafton had done a lot of research into insurance fraud and wanted to share that with us.  I was chomping at the bit to get another twist or more action, but then when we reached the climax, it was over all too quickly.

The series is not known for series regular characters, which holds true here.  Kinsey is pretty much on her own for most of this book.  She’s a strong character, and she is surrounded by a crop of strong new characters, so I didn’t feel this was a problem at all.  In fact, the characters were so strong that we certainly did care about the outcome even though we’d never met any of them before.

Once again, I listened to the audio version narrated by Mary Pfeiffer.  She is absolutely wonderful at infusing Kinsey’s narration with life and making the story fun to listen to.  I highly recommend these audio versions if you are looking for something new.

The end of this book does change things for Kinsey, so fans will want to read it to find out what that is, although it is dropped on us almost in passing.

I wish this book held up to the promise of the first half because I was really enjoying that.  As it is, “H” is for Homicide is a book fans will need to read, but it’s not a good place for those new to the series to start.

Check out the rest of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

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