(pb; 1989: sixth book in the Kinsey Millhone mysteries)
From the back cover:
"Everyone knew the kind of girl Jean Timberlake was -- ask anybody in the sleepy surf town of Floral Beach and they'd say Jean was wild, looking for trouble. But she certainly wasn't looking for murder. She was found dead on the beach seventeen years ago, and a rowdy ex-boyfriend named Bailey Fowler was convicted of her murder and imprisoned -- and then Bailey escaped. Now, private eye Kinsey Millhone steps into a case that never should have closed, in a town where there's no such thing as a 'private' investigation."
Millhone's investigation of Jean Timberlake's murder takes a lot of sordid turns, as she works her way through a cold-case that, seventeen years later, still incenses the citizens of the small town where it happened; those incensed are pissed for different reasons, as Millhone finds out, flurries of deceits (some petty, some deadly) dancing around her every investigative step.
Grafton's tight writing and thumbnail-sketched, effectively-rendered characters -- as well as Kinsey's wits and semi-quirky sense of humor -- carry the tale once again, however. The killer's identity was obvious (to me, anyway), but the scene where the killer is revealed made me think of one of the more chilling scenes in the 1978 film Halloween.
Good story, as usual, with characters who are memorably shady, and/or memorably human. Grafton's writing keeps getting better and better.
Followed by 'G' is for Gumshoe.