Monday, August 31, 2015

I is for Innocent (Grafton)

I is for Innocent, by Sue Grafton, 1992

Grafton's intrepid private detective has a new job and a new office (after events in the previous book). Kinsey Milhone takes on a new case after the passing of an older P.I., Morley Shine, who Kinsey had a connection to -- he was once the partner of the man who trained her. The case: David Barney had been acquitted of the murder of his wife, and now was being sued in civil court to prevent him from inheriting all her wealth. Morely had done quite a bit of the legwork, but there was information missing and subpoenas not yet delivered. Kinsey has to sort through the unorganized documents before the case makes it to court.

In what could be a callback to the first book in the series, A is for Alibi, where a woman who had already served her time hired Kinsey to clear her name, the title makes you pause to wonder: is David Barney actually innocent? Did someone else kill Isabelle? Kinsey has not been hired by Barney, but she has to check out his story just so she can counter it and so it doesn't blindside Lonnie (attorney Lonnie Kingman) in court. The problem is that too many things don't add up -- not that you would expect them to.

Additionally, for the series' fans, there is some interlude material involving the usual characters, Henry, her landlord, whose brother is visiting, and Rosie, owner of the local tavern. Their storylines have nothing to do with the case -- not even an "aha" moment.

I wasn't certain when I started, but by the time the book was done, I realized that this is one of the entries that I'd listened to on tape back in the 90s, borrowed from the Morristown library when I commuted to work every day. This time, I read an unabridged ebook, also from the library. I only vaguely remembered the plot, but I recognized some of the dialogue at the end. Thankfully, I didn't remember who was in that final scene.

As far as mysteries and detective work go, this was a better book than H is for Homicide, where Kinsey was thrown into a situation and carried along by events. This time, she gets to think everything through and figure out "whodunit".

One other note: I recently told someone that one of the things I liked at Milhone is that she carries a gun and knows how to use it, but she's not involved in a shootout in every book. She could be, if she needed to be. I guessing that when private investigators start firing guns, there's a lot of paperwork to fill out.

I enjoyed reading the book, and I look forward to the next one, which I don't think I've listened to. (However, I'm taken a little break from Kinsey to read some stuff I actually own.)

No link for A is for Alibi -- for whatever reason, I wasn't updating the log when I reread that one.

Monday, August 3, 2015

H is for Homicide (Grafton)

H is for Homicide, by Sue Grafton, 1991

I first discovered Sue Grafton's Alphabet series back in the late 90s when I had picked up a few on tape for my daily commute from NYC to Parsippany. (I'd heard about them earlier, probably in a magazine.) I listened to a handful of abridged editions, in a mixed-up order.

A few years back, I decided that I was going to catch up with the series, reading a couple each summer. Sorry, but I'd get bored with any series if I went through 15 or 20 books straight. However, as luck and laziness would have it, I haven't made any blog entries for these books since I started the re-read. Bad timing, I guess. (There is an entry for B is for Burglar from 2009, but that is actually copied from my old paper reading log from many years earlier. That was the first book of the series I'd actually read.)

H is for Homicide brings private investigator Kinsey Milhone into a new role. She finds herself doing undercover work, without any training despite her police background. The book starts with Kinsey returning home early from an investigation and stopping by her office, only to find a co-worker had been killed in the parking lot, his car stolen. Nothing much comes of it over the weeks that follow, but one of the victim's cases for California Fidelity is flagged as questionable. Kinsey does some detective work that gets her caught up in a bigger crime ring than she could have imagined.

It was a fun, quick read and I breezed through it. (This might be because I sort of remember listening to an abridged version of this one, but that would've been -- ack! -- twenty years ago!) There weren't too many soap-opera elements for the continuing characters from book to book, but there was enough to satisfy people who like that kind of thing in series books. None of it gets in the way of this story.

Crazy thing about the story is how dated it is. Published in the early 90s, no one had a cell phone and only one car had a car phone. Finding a telephone (and hiding the house phone) were important to the plot. Even for a throwback like me, that seemed crazy, but that's how life was not that long ago, and shows you how things have changed.

Onto I is for Innocent.