Friday, October 16, 2020

Book Review: "R" is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #18)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Mostly entertaining story; sub-plots
Cons: Some characters’ choices
The Bottom Line:
Helping parolee
With unexpected danger
Good, could be stronger

Tries for Something Different, but Disappoints a Little

Authors like to try new things.  I get it.  They get bored when they write the same book in the same way each time.  And, if they are bored, then we are bored as readers as well.  However, sometimes, what they try leaves us feeling disappointed.  That was the case for me with “R” is for Ricochet, one of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books.  I still enjoyed it overall, but it could have been stronger.

As the book opens, private investigator Kinsey Millhone is given what she thinks will be a simple assignment.  Reba Lafferty is about to be paroled after serving twenty-two months of a four-year sentence for embezzlement.  Her father wants to hire Kinsey to pick her up at the prison and bring her home to Santa Theresa and spend time with her over the next few days helping her get off on the right foot so she doesn’t wind up going back.  Reba herself is friendly enough, so Kinsey isn’t expecting any trouble.

However, trouble is just what she finds when Reba has an encounter with someone from her former life.  Then Kinsey is asked by Federal agents to talk to Reba about a case they are working on.  Suddenly, Reba’s life seems to be very uncertain, and Kinsey is being pulled into the drama.  Will Kinsey be able to help Reba?

The book started out well, with the usual build up that introduces us to complications that quickly become much more than Kinsey bargained for.  It’s one thing I love about these books, and I was happy to see that happening once again here.

However, as the book went along, I began to get frustrated.  Part of that was Reba, who made some pretty dumb choices and dragged Kinsey along with her.  Part of that was Kinsey who made some dumb choices of her own.  Sometimes, she had no choice, but others she did, and I found her actions frustrating each time.

That led into my biggest frustration – I felt like Kinsey spent most of the book reacting to things instead of actively trying to resolves the issues.  That didn’t feel like Kinsey to me.  This is where I feel like Sue Grafton was trying something new, but I didn’t like it.

On the other hand, we get some enjoyable romantic sub-plots.  This book really could have been called “R” is for Romance.  Not that I’m complaining because I enjoyed seeing these stories play out and what they showed us about the characters involved.  I’m a sucker for learning more about series regulars, and that’s what happens here.  I look forward to seeing how this growth and these relationships continue in future books.

And, all this isn’t to say that the story told here isn’t interesting.  I was certainly engaged the entire way through.  I just felt like the story could have been stronger if different choices were made along the way.

As always, I listened to the audio version narrated by Judy Kaye.  I’ve gotten used to her take on the characters by this point, and I enjoyed listening to the story.

There is enough good to recommend “R” Is for Ricochet, but this is not the strongest entry in the series.

Be sure to check out the rest of Kinsey Millhone's mysteries.

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

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