Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Kinsey's on the job
While I admired the confidence of the first two entries in Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series, in that they stayed laser pointed at their respective mystery plots with little diversion by banter and personal subplots, the wider scope of C is for Corpse turned out to provide a great ride, too.
Here we get two ongoing plots: the primary story involving Kinsey helping a client figure out why someone might want him dead (complicated by the fact that the client soon is dead), and a secondary story involving Kinsey's landlord Henry Pitts possibly being targeted in a financial scam. Kinsey bounces between the cases, with both nicely entertaining us with suspense and puzzling questions. I especially liked how the landlord plot, which essentially doesn't threaten Kinsey with any physical danger, generates just as much suspense as the main storyline, which does.
The main story, by the way, features several reliable mystery novel stand-bys: a client with memory problems, a gothic mansion filled with the idle rich, and lots of family secrets. Grafton does a good job with all this, then tops it all off with a little humor. A favorite running gag has Kinsey continually lamenting the fact that all the spectacular wine she's enjoying in her client's mansion (served to her by liveried staff, no less) is going to ruin her ability to enjoy the cheap, boxed stuff she's used to swilling.
I'm glad I'm finally discovering this series, after years of dismissing it because it seemed to be the type of series only my mom and my girlfriends enjoyed. But, no, these aren't frothy, souffle-like beach reads at all (I know, I know-- I shouldn't characterize women as liking only light reads). Anyway, while easy to get into, each entry so far has offered a tough little tale, challenging plotting, and thoughtful, biting humor. C is for Corpse is no exception.
I'm glad there are still many, many more Kinsey Millhone books left for me to enjoy.
C is for Corpse is available for $7.99 on Kindle.