Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (November 29, 2005)
I really like Grafton's Alphabet series. Her heroine, Kinsey Milhone is easy to like...smart, tough and resourceful.
Kinsey is hired by Beverly Danzinger to find her sister Elaine Boldt, a wealthy widow who was last seen leaving her California condo and boarding a plane to Florida. It seemed like a pretty straightforward case until Kinsey discovers that just before Elaine's disappearance, a woman was murdered next door to Elaine's condo and the house was torched with the body inside.
Kinsey travels between California and Florida in her quest to solve the mystery. While in Boca Raton where Elaine has a condo, she meets Julia Ochsner who is an absolute hoot and is delighted to help Kinsey. She's 88 years old with arthritis, a dowager's hump the size of a backpack and hair that looks like dandelion fuzz. She claims that all her dear friends have died and now she's stuck with the crabby ones. When Beverly tells Kinsey to stop searching, Julia is so excited about the case that she hires Kinsey to keep looking.
I've read several of Grafton's other alphabet books and so far this one is my favorite. Kinsey is just a delight and the plot is complex but no so much that you can't follow it.
Synopsis (from the author's website)
Beverly Danziger looked like an expensive, carefully wrapped package from a good but conservative shop. Only her compulsive chatter hinted at the nervousness beneath her cool surface. It was a nervousness out of all proportion to the problem she placed before Kinsey Millhone. There was an absent sister. A will to be settled -- a matter of only a few thousand dollars. Mrs. Danziger did not look as if she needed a few thousand dollars. And she didn't seem like someone longing for a family reunion. Still, business was slow, and even a private investigator has bills to pay. Millhone took the job. It looked routine.
Elaine Boldt's wrappings were a good deal flashier than her sisters, but they signaled the same thing: The lady had money. A rich widow in her early forties, she owned a condo in Boca Raton and another in Santa Teresa. According to the manager of the California building, she was last seen draped in her $12,000 lynx coat heading for Boca Raton. According to the manager of the Florida building, she never got there. But someone else had and she was camping out illegally in Mrs. Boldt's apartment. The job was beginning to seem a bit less routine. It turned tricky when Beverly Danziger ordered Millhone to drop the case and it took on an ominous quality when Aubrey Danziger surfaced, making all kinds of wild accusations about his wife. But it only became sinister when Millhone learned that just days before Elaine Boldt went missing, her next-door neighbor and bridge partner had been murdered and the killer was still at large.
A house destroyed by arson. A brutally murdered woman. A missing lynx coat. An apartment burgled of valueless papers, another ransacked in a melee of mindless destruction. And more murder. As Millhone digs deeper into the case, she finds herself in a nightmarish hall of mirrors in which reality is distorted by illusion and nothing -- except danger -- is quite what it seems.