Monday, April 27, 2009

'J' is for Judgment, by Sue Grafton

(pb; 1993: tenth book in the Kinsey Millhone mysteries)

From the inside flap:

"Wendell Jaffe has been dead for five years -- until his former insurance agent spots him in a dusty resort bar. Now California Fidelity wants Kinsey Millhone to track down the dead man. Just two months before, his widow collected on Jaffe's $500,000 life insurance policy -- her only legacy since Jaffe went overboard, bankrupt and about to be indicted for his fraudulent real estate schemes. As Kinsey pushes deeper into the mystery surrounding Wendell Jaffe's pseudocide, she explores her own past, discovering that in family matters, as in crime, sometimes it's better to reserve judgment. . ."

Review:

Kinsey's uncomplicated family history becomes complicated: she discovers she has surviving, previously-unknown family members living near her cozy town of Santa Teresa.

These familial bombshells come at her just as she's investigating a particularly complex case stemming from an old and widely-reported Ponzi scheme that ruined the livelihood of many local people. It seems one of the Ponzi instigators, Wendell Jaffe (previously thought dead), was seen, alive and well, in Mexico with another woman (Renata Huff, not his widow). Not only does Kinsey have to figure out if Wendell is indeed alive; she also has to catch his accomplice (or accomplices) from five years prior, and now -- if Wendell is still alive.

Wendell's family members and friends seem to be hiding something -- it's a matter of what each of them are hiding that keeps Kinsey deducing, and how many of them have it in them to be a killer.

Entertaining and a blast-read (as always), Grafton delivers the P.I.-kicks, with a denouement that opens up fresh plot directions that future Kinsey Millhone novels may take.

Exciting stuff. Check this series out!

Followed by 'K' is for Killer.

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