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by Sue Grafton
G. P.Putnam's Sons, October 2002
385 pages
ISBN: 0399149155

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The latest Kinsey Millhone mystery is based on an actual unsolved murder in

Santa Barbara County, where an unidentified female corpse was found in the

late 1960's. Her identity, and the identity of her killer, are still a

mystery. Grafton took this case's particulars and built this book around it.

Two of the investigating officers, older now and in poor health, have hired

Kinsey to help them finally identify the corpse and if possible, find the

killer. The initial stages of the book, where Kinsey is hired and they begin

the investigation, seem to move really slow; as if Grafton is more interested

in getting into the personalities of the crusty old cops and their

relationship with Kinsey as well. The corpse was found near a quarry just

outside of Lompoc, California; the quarry happens to be near the ranch of

Kinsey's maternal family, the Kinseys, and in a subplot that never really

goes anywhere, some of Kinsey's relatives make a brief appearance back into

her life--which is interesting, but doesn't really go anywhere once the

mystery action starts moving. The book is well -written, and moves quickly,

but there are some minor flaws that Grafton's fans will be more than happy to

overlook, and her critics will undoubtedly flail her with.

The book's true strength is demonstrated when the investigation leads Kinsey

and the cops to a small town in the California desert near the Nevada border.

Grafton does an excellent job of examining and exposing the social layers and

strata of small town life (which she also did beautifully in N IS FOR NOOSE),

and Kinsey's character is also, through this slowly developing re-discovery

of relatives she never knew, starting to change and became a little more open

to relationships---her growing affection for the two older cops she is

working with is really fun to read about; and wouldn't have been possible as

recently as M or N or even O.

Greg Herren



Reviewed by Greg Herren, October 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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