A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A tragic puzzler

In Sue Grafton's D Is For Deadbeat, the fourth in the author's Kinsey Millhone Alphabet mystery series, an initially simple assignment to deliver a cashier's check turns into a complex murder investigation when Kinsey's client turns up dead. We soon learn that the client, a rumpled alcoholic named John Daggett, was responsible for the deaths of several people in the car Daggett hit when he was driving drunk, creating instant murder suspects among the many people related to the car wreck victims.

The book stays focused on the case at hand, with little diversion. Cleverly, we do learn a little more about Kinsey's shaded past even as the main case is being investigated, as one of the suspects related to the car crash victims, a lost, confused young man named Tony Gahan, reminds Kinsey so much of herself when she was younger, bringing on a reminiscence or two. There's also a short romantic interlude for Kinsey, but even that feels like part of the case, as the guy she becomes involved with, her cop friend Jonah, is also helping out in her investigation.

If you prefer your mystery books to mainly focus on, well, the mystery, you should be happy with this story. But if you're a reader who also likes a little breeziness and character texture to keep your mysteries from simply turning into the literary version of a crossword puzzle, there's just enough of that kind of thing here, too. Something to keep everyone happy, as they say.

In any event, a strong plot, and a dash of Kinsey's past and current personal life, all combine to produce an engaging and entertaining reading experience. The haunting, memorable ending doesn't hurt, either.

D Is For Deadbeat is available on Kindle for $7.99.

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