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C Is for Corpse [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Sue Grafton
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The corpse in private eye Kinsey Millhone's third adventure ("A" Is for Alibi and "B" Is for Burglar is that of Bobby Callahan, a young man she first meets while both are working out in a local gym. Bobby is convinced the car crash he'd been injured in was really an attempt on his life and, fearful of another assault, persuades Kinsey to investigate. A few days later, Bobby is indeed killed, and Kinsey stays on the case. She is befriended by Bobby's wealthy mother, his opportunistic stepfather and druggie, anoretic stepsister. She learns Bobby was having an affair with a friend of his mother's whose first husband had been killed in a suspicious burglary, and whose second is county pathologist. While the almost hard-boiled Kinsey ferrets out the ugly secrets behind Bobby's death, she's also trying to save her elderly landlord from the schemes of the scam-operating senior lady he's smitten with. Kinsey Millhone is nobody's fool; she's also sensitive, funny and very likable. Writing with a light, sure touch, Grafton has produced a fast-moving California story about quirky, believable people.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Exceptionally entertaining…an offbeat sense of humor and a feisty sense of justice."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"Millhone is an engaging detective-for-hire…P.I. Kinsey Millhone and her creator…are arguably the best of [the] distaff invaders of the hitherto sacrosanct turf of gumshoes."--The Buffalo News

"Once a fan reads one of Grafton's alphabetically titled detective novels, he or she will not rest until all the others are found."--Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"Millhone is a refreshingly strong and resourceful female private eye."--Library Journal

"Tough but compassionate…There is no one better than Kinsey Millhone."--Best Sellers

"A woman we feel we know, a tough cookie with a soft center, a gregarious loner."--Newsweek

"Lord, how I like this Kinsey Millhone…The best detective fiction I have read in years."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Smart, tough, and thorough…Kinsey Millhone is a pleasure."--The Bloomsbury Review

"Kinsey is one of the most persuasive of the new female operatives…she's refreshingly free of gender clichés. Grafton, who is a very witty writer, has also given her sleuth a nice sense of humor--and a set of Wonder Woman sheets to prove it."--Boston Herald

"What grandpa used to call a class act."--Stanley Ellin

"Smart, sexual, likeable, and a very modern operator."--Dorothy Salisbury Davis

"Kinsey's got brains and a sense of humor."--Kirkus Reviews
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Kinsey meets him in the local gym. Bobby Callahan is a scarred young man struggling back to life after a car forced his Porsche over the edge of a canyon, battering his body and muddling his memory. All he remembers is that someone, for some reason, tried to kill him. Desperate for clues about his own past life and certain he is being stalked, he asks Kinsey to protect him. Kinsey can't resist the brave kid - and neither can the killers. Three days late Bobby is dead. Kinsey Millhone never welshed on a deal. She'd been hired to stop a killing. Now she'd find the killer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

You haven't read a thriller until you read #1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton's novels with her unforgettable P.I. Kinsey Millhone…

How do you go about solving an attempted murder when the victim has lost a good part of his memory? It's one of Kinsey's toughest cases yet, but she never backs down from a challenge. Twenty-three-year-old Bobby Callahan is lucky to be alive after a car forced his Porsche over a bridge and into a canyon. The crash left Bobby with a clouded memory. But he can't shake the feeling it was no random accident and that he's still in danger…

The only clues Kinsey has to go on are a little red address book and the name "Blackman." Bobby can't remember who he gave the address book to for safekeeping. And any chances of Bobby regaining his memory are dashed when he's killed in another automobile accident just three days after he hires Kinsey.

As Kinsey digs deeper into her investigation, she discovers Bobby had a secret worth killing for--and unearthing that secret could send Kinsey to her own early death…

"There is no one better than Kinsey Millhone."
--Best Sellers

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sue Grafton has become one of the most popular female writers, both in the UK and in the US. Born in Kentucky in 1940, she began her career as a TV scriptwriter before Kinsey Millhone and the 'alphabet' series took off. She plans to take Kinsey all the way through the alphabet to Z. Sue lives and writes in Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

I met Bobby Callahan on Monday of that week. By Thursday, he was dead. He was convinced someone was trying to kill him and it turned out to be true, but none of us figured it out in time to save him. I’ve never worked for a dead man before and I hope I won’t have to do it again. This report is for him, for whatever it’s worth.

My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a licensed private investigator, doing business in Santa Teresa, California, which is ninety-five miles north of Los Angeles. I’m thirty-two years old, twice divorced. I like being alone and I suspect my independence suits me better than it should. Bobby challenged that. I don’t know quite how or why. He was only twenty-three years old. I wasn’t romantically involved with him in any sense of the word, but I did care and his death served to remind me, like a custard pie in the face, that life is sometimes one big savage joke. Not funny "ha ha," but cruel, like those gags sixth-graders have been telling since the world began.

It was August and I’d been working out at Santa Teresa Fitness, trying to remedy the residual effects of a broken left arm. The days were hot, filled with relentless sunshine and clear skies. I was feeling cranky and bored, doing push-downs and curls and wrist rolls. I’d just worked two cases back-to-back and I’d sustained more damage than a fractured humerus. I was feeling emotionally battered and I needed a rest. Fortunately, my bank account was fat and I knew I could afford to take two months off. At the same time, the idleness was making me restless and the physical-therapy regimen was driving me nuts.

Santa Teresa Fitness is a real no-nonsense place: the brand X of health clubs. No Jacuzzi, no sauna, no music piped in. Just mirrored walls, body-building equipment, and industrial-grade carpeting the color of asphalt. The whole twenty-eight-hundred square feet of space smells like men’s jockstraps.

I’d arrive at eight in the morning, three days a week, and warm up for fifteen minutes, then launch into a series of exercises designed to strengthen and condition my left deltoid, pectoralis major, biceps, triceps, and anything else that had gone awry since I’d had the snot beaten out of me and had intersected the flight path of a .22 slug. The orthopedist had prescribed six weeks of physical therapy and so far, I’d done three. There was nothing for it but to work my way patiently from one machine to the next. I was usually the only woman in the place at that hour and I tended to distract myself from the pain, sweat, and nausea by checking out men’s bodies while they were checking out mine.

Bobby Callahan came in at the same time I did. I wasn’t sure what had happened to him, but whatever it was, it had hurt. He was probably just short of six feet tall, with a football player’s physique: big head, thick neck, brawny shoulders, heavy legs. Now the shaggy blond head was held to one side, the left half of his face pulled down in a permanent grimace. His mouth leaked saliva as though he’d just been shot up with Novocain and couldn’t quite feel his own lips. He tended to hold his left arm up against his waist and he usually carried a folded white handkerchief that he used to mop up his chin. There was a terrible welt of dark red across the bridge of his nose, a second across his chest, and his knees were crisscrossed with scars as though a swordsman had slashed at him. He walked with a lilting gait, his left Achilles tendon apparently shortened, pulling his left heel up. Working out must have cost him everything he had, yet he never failed to appear. There was a doggedness about him that I admired. I watched him with interest, ashamed of my own interior complaints. Clearly, I could recover from my injuries while he could not. I didn’t feel sorry for him, but I did feel curious.

That Monday morning was the first time we’d been alone together in the gym. He was doing leg curls, facedown on the bench next to mine, his attention turned inward. I had shifted over to the leg-press machine, just for variety. I weigh 118 and I only have so much upper body I can rehabilitate. I hadn’t gotten back into jogging since the injury, so I figured a few leg presses would serve me right. I was only doing 120 pounds, but it hurt anyway. To distract myself, I was playing a little game wherein I tried to determine which apparatus I hated most. The leg-curl machine he was using was a good candidate. I watched him do a set of twelve repetitions and then start all over again.

"I hear you’re a private detective," he said without missing a beat. "That true?" There was a slight drag to his voice, but he covered it pretty well.

"Yes. Are you in the market for one?"

"Matter of fact, I am. Somebody tried to kill me."

"Looks like they didn’t miss by much. When was this?"

"Nine months ago."

"Why you?"

"Don’t know."

The backs of his thighs were bulging, his hamstrings taut as guy wires. Sweat poured off his face. Without even thinking about it, I counted reps with him. Six, seven, eight.

"I hate that machine," I remarked.

He smiled. "Hurts like a son of a bitch, doesn’t it?"

"How’d it happen?"

"I was driving up the pass with a buddy of mine late at night. Some car came up and started ramming us from behind. When we got to the bridge just over the crest of the hill, I lost it and we went off. Rick was killed. He bailed out and the car rolled over on him. I should have been killed too. Longest ten seconds of my life, you know?"

"I bet." The bridge he’d soared off spanned a rocky, scrub-choked canyon, four hundred feet deep, a favorite jumping-off spot for suicide attempts. Actually, I’d never heard of anyone surviving that drop. "You’re doing great," I said. "You’ve been working your butt off."

"What else can I do? Just after the accident, they told me I’d never walk. Said I’d never do anything."

"Who said?"

"Family doctor. Some old hack. My mom fired him on the spot and called in an orthopedic specialist. He brought me back. I was out at Rehab for eight months and now I’m doing this. What happened to you?"

"Some asshole shot me in the arm."

Bobby laughed. It was a wonderful snuffling sound. He finished the last rep and propped himself up on his elbows.

He said, "I got four machines to go and then let’s bug out. By the way, I’m Bobby Callahan."

"Kinsey Millhone."

He held his hand out and we shook, sealing an unspoken bargain. I knew even then I’d work for him whatever the circumstances.

We ate lunch in a health-food café, one of those places specializing in cunning imitation meat patties that never fool anyone. I don’t understand the point myself. It seems to me a vegetarian would be just as repelled by something that looked like minced cow parts. Bobby ordered a bean-and-cheese burrito the size of a rolled-up gym towel, smothered in guacamole and sour cream. I opted for stir-fried veggies and brown rice with a glass of white wine of some indeterminate jug sort.

Eating, for Bobby, was the same laborious process as working out, but his single-minded attention to the task allowed me to study him at close range. His hair was sun-bleached and coarse, his eyes brown with the kind of lashes most women have to buy in a box. The left half of his face was inanimate, but he had a strong chin, accentuated by a scar like a rising moon. My guess was that his teeth had been driven through his lower lip at some point during the punishing descent into that ravine. How he’d lived through it all was any-body’s guess.

He glanced up. He knew I’d been staring, but he didn’t object.

"You’re lucky to be alive," I said.

"I’ll tell you the worst of it. Big hunks of my brain are gone, you know?" The drag in his speech was back, as though the very subject affected his voice. "I was in a coma for two weeks, and when I came out, I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. I still don’t. But I can remember how I used to be and that’s what hurts. I was smart, Kinsey. I knew a lot. I could concentrate and I used to have ideas. My mind would make these magic little leaps. You know what I mean?"

I nodded. I knew about minds making magic little leaps.

He went on. "Now I got gaps and spaces. Holes. I’ve lost big pieces of my past. They don’t exist anymore." He paused to dab impatiently at his chin, then shot a bitter glance at the handkerchief. "Jesus, bad enough that I drool. If I’d always been like this, I wouldn’t know the difference and it wouldn’t bug me so much. I’d assume everybody had a brain that felt like mine. But I was quick once. I know that. I was an A student, on my way to medical school. Now all I do is work out. I’m just trying to regain enough coordination so I can go to the fuckin’ toilet by myself. When I’m not in the gym, I see this shrink named Kleinert and try to come to terms with the rest of it."

There were sudden tears in his eyes and he paused, fighting for control. He took a deep breath and shook his head abruptly. When he spoke again, his voice was full of self-loathing.
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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