From Publishers Weekly
Kinsey Millhone has kept her appeal by being distinctive and sympathetic without craving center stage. While some mysteries that provide the PI's shoe size or most despised food create a forced and intrusive intimacy, a master like Grafton makes the relationship relaxed and reassuring. Millhone's life is modest and familiar, though her love life, now featuring police detective Cheney Phillips, tends to be oddly remote. This 19th entry (after 2004's R Is for Ricochet
) adopts a new convention: Millhone's customary intelligent and occasionally self-deprecating first-person reportage is interrupted by vignettes from the days surrounding the Fourth of July, 34 years earlier, when a hot-blooded young woman named Violet Sullivan disappeared. Violet's daughter, Daisy, who was seven at the time, hires Millhone to discover her mother's true fate. Violet had toyed with every man in town at one time or another, so there's no shortage of scandalous secrets and possible suspects. Constant revelations concerning several absorbing characters allow a terrific tension to build. However, the utterly illogical and oddly abrupt ending undermines what is otherwise one of the stronger offerings in this iconic series. One million first printing; Literary Guild, BOMC and Mystery Guild main selection. (Dec.)
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Grafton's determined march through the criminal alphabet puts readers within striking distance of the end, a destination no Grafton fan wants to reach. The latest in the lexicon should really be C Is for Cold Case
, since it involves a disappearance that took place nearly 35 years in the past. (Although the alphabet keeps progressing, Grafton's heroine, Kinsey Millhone, is still in her late 30s and, given her high-fat eating habits, probably wouldn't have survived to be a sleuth in her 60s.) The daughter of a really neglectful mother (who could have starred in I Is for Issues
) has been haunted by her mother's disappearance from a Fourth of July celebration when the daughter was only three years old. Part of the intrigue from this case comes from Grafton's sensitive portrayal of the psychological consequences of neglect. Boldly departing from the conventions of victim fiction, Grafton portrays the daughter as sniveling and annoying as well as desperate. Millhone doesn't have much hope for the case but starts digging (it's fascinating in itself to see how Millhone flounders and flounders until she finds a crack in the case). Grafton juxtaposes flashbacks to 1953, when the mother disappeared, with the current investigation, giving different points of view on the woman. Although she gives us a bit too much of Millhone's eating and living habits (probably in response to fan enthusiasm), this novel also presents strong character portrayals, a mosaic of motives, and a stunning climax. Connie FletcherCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved