Sue Grafton's Latest

Review of Sue Grafton's "V Is for Vengeance"

by David Marshall James

Who would have thought that a brief (so to speak) shopping foray into Nordstrom's to scoop up some scanties on sale would plop P.I. Kinsey Millhone in such a pile o' poopie?

That's what she gets for lingering over the jewel-toned silk PJs.

Good Citizen Millhone has her eyes peeled on a couple of shoplifters. The first bad thing that results from her finger-pointing is her nearly getting runover.

A Taurus to the core-us (indeed, she's fast approaching her 38th birthday-- it's 1988, K.M. time, which means she's 61 in our universe, which also means the author could pull some major "into the future that's really the past" tricks over the last four volumes in this series; okay, please don't drop any "Kinsey really died a couple of years ago" stuff down the line, 'cause readers don't like that sort of thing; better that she run off with Rosie, the Hungarian restaurateur, and learn to love jellied pig knuckles)--

Kinsey is nothing if not stubborn.

Whatever the provocation, she's going to push it and poke at it until it strikes back.

Being the bystander with the big mouth does afford Kinsey a new client-- a nebbishy, largely clueless widower who thinks with just about every body part except his brain.

Why, he wonders, did his live-in love swan-dive off an overpass?

How does that connect with the shoplifting?

Kinsey is also plagued by a perennial ex-con as well as a newspaper reporter for the local (Santa Teresa, California) newspaper.

That aggressive young woman is also busily investigating why the woman jumped off the overpass.

Sue Grafton's 22nd to-the-letter Kinsey Millhone mystery hops among points of view. Of course, there's Kinsey's.

Then, there's the son of a crime lord who's been running his pop's business under a veneer of respectability.

Lastly, there's a Hollywood wife-- her husband's a philandering entertainment lawyer-- who prefers her country estate near Santa Teresa to the glass-and-steel pile (complete with Japanese rock garden) her husband has had built in Malibu.

As unlikely as it would seem, her life intersects at multiple junctures-- and counting-- with Son of Crime Lord's.

Meanwhile, Kinsey is about to make his life more interesting, and vice versa.

Not that she can't handle it: She's as tough, calculating, snide, and wisecracking as ever.

And, earthy-- whoa, girl! She's not going to hold back when it comes to the subject of relieving herself during a lengthy surveillance.

Well, that's a Taurus for you. And this latest Kinsey Millhone mystery never fails to hold the reader's attention, never languishes in its momentum.

So, once more, we raise our Quarter Pounders (and glasses of affordable Chardonnay) to the McDaddy of mytery writers, Sue Grafton.