Summer's here, so I'm back to reading a couple more Sue Grafton Alphabet mysteries, featuring Kinsey Millhone, although had I been keeping up, I probably should be nearly up to date by now.
I'm pretty sure that J is for Judgment was totally new to me. That is, it's not one of the novels I heard on tape back in the 90s. It takes place a few months after the events of I is for Innocent although it was released a year later. This will probably become a timing issue somewhere down the line, particularly with Kinsey lugging around her portable typewriter and not owning a cell phone. She even uses pay phones on occasion.
Okay, so the plot goes something like this: she no longer works for California Fidelity, but they hire her to investigate whether or not a person spotted in Mexico is someone who disappeared five years ago. When he was declared dead, CF had to pay out half a million on his life insurance. They want to know if he's still alive and if the wife is part of a long-term scam. Wendell Jaffe ran a Ponzi scheme (Bernie Madoff, two decades earlier, but not quite as rich) and disappeared when it collapsed, leaving his partner holding the bags, and his wife and two sons with lives in ruins. His boat was found after an apparent suicide.
Kinsey goes to Mexico, finds the man who looks somewhat like Jaffe's pictures, allowing for aging and surgery. He's also traveling with a woman, Renata Huff, posing as her husband. Kinsey's investigation involves a little breaking and entering, and Wendell is scared off -- or was it the news that his troubled son has broken out of prison and has been recaptured. Figuring that Wendell would check on his family, Kinsey moves her investigation. Until now, she has no proof that Dean Dewitt Huff is actually Wendell Jaffe.
Family plays another role in Judgment: while canvassing the neighborhood, she meets someone who recognizes her last name and thinks she looks familiar. Before you know it, Kinsey discovers that she's not as alone as she was always led to believe. This will be a thread that will play out over successive novels, similar to the romance that sparked in the last installment between the brother of Henry, the landlord, and Rosie, the local Hungarian restaurateur.
Another fun, quick read. I'm a little biased: I like this series.
This was a library e-book loan, which amusingly ran out while I was reading the last chapter. I had to borrow it a second time.
Next up, installment 11. K.