"E" is for Evidence is the fifth novel in the Alphabet mystery series by Sue Grafton featuring her loner, ex-cop private detective Kinsey Millhone. Alone over the Christmas holidays, Kinsey is hired to look into a routine fire insurance claim by her long time client, California Fidelity. The case involves a suspcious fire which burned down the warehouse of Wood/Warren, a hydrogen furnance manufacturer owned by the Woods, a prominent Santa Theresa family. When a check for five thousand dollars is mysteriously deposited into her personal bank account, Kinsey is accused of being on the take and is fired from the case by California Fidelity's straight arrow boss. Determined to prove her innocence and to find out who planted the incriminating evidence, Kinsey decides to work for herself and finds herself drawn deeper into the intricate dynamics of the wealthy Wood family. Any of the five adult Wood children could be involved in perpetuating the frame-up and this begins a guessing game of which one is involved in the case. Suddenly, her ex-husband Daniel arrives out of the blue after eight years. Then someone is killed and Kinsey finds her own life at risk.
As usual, the pleasure in reading Grafton's novel comes from the detailed and always entertaining descriptions of the offices and homes of her mostly wealthy Southern Californian suspects. She has a great feel for dipicting the attitudes and tastes of her characters. As usual, the wisecracking Kinsey is secretly, a little self-conscious in their presense, and she is often quick to remind us of the carelessness of her own appearence. I have read a lot of the Alphabet series and I get a little weary of passages describing Kinsey's lack of interest in clothes, and that she owns only one dress. At least twice we are reminded that she cuts her own hair with nail scissors. All the Alphabet novels are peppered with such passages and I find these repeated descriptions somewhat tiresome. The plot of "E" is for Evidence runs a little slow for the first half of the novel, but it takes an interesting twist towards the end of the mystery as long buried secrets are revealed.