B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton

(Kinsey Millhone, #2)

Finding wealthy Elaine Boldt seems like a quickie case to Kinsey Millhone. The flashy widow was last seen wearing a $12,000 lynx coat, leaving her condo in Santa Teresa for her condo in Boca Raton. But somewhere in between, she vanished. Kinsey's case goes from puzzling to sinister when a house is torched, an apartment is burgled of worthless papers, the lynx coat comes back without Elaine, and her bridge partner is found dead. Soon Kinsey's clues begin to form a capital M--not for missing, but for murder: And plenty of it.

"I stare out the window at the palms and wonder how many times I'll dance with death before the orchestra packs it in for the night."

Kinsey Millhone is a private investigator who gets handed a case that seems simple at first. Just when it gets good and serious, the sister who hired her tries to call the whole thing off but now the sleuth is hooked.

While the journey wasn't fascinating, the sleight of hand was. I didn't guess the ending but it's one that makes sense when the trick has been revealed. Kinsey has to go through a lot of roads, plane rides, discussions and digging to get there - it's not an easily solved riddle. The ending is a flashback to the end of the first novel, something that's not haunting her yet but may eventually.

Characters are good enough. No one shines as unique but they seem genuine and familar roles for this type of book. Kinsey is fit and in shape, she runs daily, but she also hogs out on junk food and drink. She's compassionate in a sensible way but she acknowledges she's a little too hardened for comfort. She doesn't smoke, but it seems most of her clients do when they come in her office and fill it with the foggy stuff. Can we really have an authentic gumshoe novel without smoking somewhere?

Overall the story is a good one and the delivery is suitable. It's a story about a story, not about rich characters who make a story. There's almost progression in Kinsey's life on a personal front but that stalls, and to be honest the character clearly doesn't want to change. She's not an unhappy character wanting to improve her life - she's fine with the little she has and doesn't want a lot.

A little dry since it goes with the motions of showing a crime and the solving of it, little emotion is present, but that's typical for this type. While I can appreciate the trick of the mystery, it's hard to be so absorbed I rate higher than three stars unless a little more personality comes through.

   Book Quotes:

“Personally, I'd rather grow old alone than in the company of anyone I've met so far. I don't experience myself as lonely, incomplete, or unfulfilled, but I don't talk about that much. It seems to piss people off--especially men."

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