P Is for Peril Hardcover – Jun 4 2001
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When Dowan Purcell, a respected physician who operates a nursing home, disappears, his ex-wife hires Santa Teresa PI Kinsey Millhone to look into it. Fiona Purcell is still seething over Dow's affair and subsequent marriage to Crystal, a former stripper, yet they're still friends, and she seems worried. But when his body is discovered, she's among the suspects. Both of Dow's wives, at least one of his business partners, and perhaps even Crystal's teenage daughter had motives to kill.
While in her most recent adventures (N Is for Noose, O Is for Outlaw) Kinsey has acquired new digs, an extended family, and a few more gray hairs, in this one (which takes place some time in the mid-'80s), she's 36, still living in the remodeled garage that was blown up in an earlier novel. Easier than a facelift, and while Sue Grafton is a solid enough writer to pull it off, dedicated Kinsey fans will miss the more complex and multidimensional character who aged so ruefully and interestingly in the '90s. This isn't Grafton's strongest case; it's hard to care about any of Purcell's women or his associates. More exciting is the secondary plot, which involves a handsome landlord who offers Kinsey the new office space she's been seeking and turns out to be a lot more trouble than she bargained for. Despite its somewhat plodding pace and the echo of a more evolved heroine that rings through its pages, Grafton's many fans will probably shoot P Is for Peril right to the top of the bestseller list. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
PI Kinsey Millhone's trademark dry sense of humor is largely absent in the first half of the 15th book in this justifiably popular series, though it resurfaces as the suspense finally begins to build in the second half. In the bleak November of 1986, Kinsey looks into the disappearance of Dr. Dowan Purcell, who's been missing for nine weeks. Dr. Purcell is an elderly physician who runs a nursing home that's being investigated for Medicare fraud. His ex-wife, Fiona, hires Kinsey when it seems as though the police have given up on the search. Fiona thinks that he could be simply hiding out somewhere, especially since he's pulled a disappearance stunt twice before. However, Purcell's current wife, Crystal, believes that he may be dead. Kinsey is dubious about finding any new leads after so much time has elapsed. She's also worried about having to move out of the office space she now occupies in the suite owned by her lawyer, and between her interviews with suspects she tries to rent a new office from a pair of brothers whose mysterious background begins to make her suspicious. Grafton's Santa Teresa seems more like Ross Macdonald's town of the same name than ever before, with dysfunctional families everywhere jostling for the private eye's attention. The novel has a hard-edged, wintry ambience, echoed in Fiona Purcell's obsession with angular art deco furniture and architecture. Unfortunately, Grafton's evocation of the noir crime novels and styles of the 1940s, although atmospheric, doesn't make up for a lack of suspense and lackluster characters. (June 4)Forecast: With a 600,000-copy first printing and a national author tour, this Literary Guild Main Selection is sure to shoot well up the bestseller lists.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Grafton is a good writer, even if what she writes is brain candy. I occasionally love brain candy, and think she's one of the best mystery writers out there. She creates characters who are utterly real, and she makes you feel like you are in the small town of St. Teresa, smelling the wet leaves and feeling the ocean breezes on your skin as you walk the streets with detective Kinsey Milhone. Reading her books has always been a pleasure - until now.
"P is for Peril", in terms of plot and structure, is a mess. The main failure is a lack of tying up the loose ends at the conclusion. There's no sense in reading a murder mystery unless who-dun-it is revealed at the end. In this book, she leaves the reader hanging (she gives an indication but not a clear answer.) Sure, do that in fine literature, but a murder mystery? The key to any murder mystery is the fun of trying to solve it yourself as you read. With no solution provided, the fun sinks out of it like a popped balloon.
That was not the only question left unanswered. She did not tie in the subplots, or indeed, what methods were used to accomplish the criminal acts in the subplots, and by whom, and what the motivations were. The subplots, rather than tying into the main mystery, seemed to mostly be red herrings or fillers that had nothing to do with the murder mystery. But the worst of it was the ending. Who murdered him: One or both of the teens, or one or both of the adults? If it was the adult lovers (if they were lovers - maybe just one hoped they would develop into that), who actually did it? Did the other know, or was she in the dark about it? What was the motive? Only love? Just for the money?Read more ›
So it was with great anticipation that on June 4 of last year - on my way to the airport and vacation - I was at the bookstore when it opened for business. I was lucky enough to get a signed copy, my first Grafton hardback. The read I had so looked forward to while sitting on the beach was a huge disappointment.
This book is a dud. It lacks memorable plot, interesting people, or character development; it is poorly written and boring. I barely got through it and kept putting it aside for other reading matter.
Peril has two main stories, one with many branches, one more straightforward. The latter is more typical of Grafton/Milhone and is the more interesting but plays a much smaller part. The main plot is filled with serendipity, red herrings, and dead ends. Neither were as good as plots from past works such as Lawless and Killer.
I do not actually read Grafton's books for the plots: I enjoy them as I go along, I expect them to be interesting enough to maintain my curiosity, and five minutes later I have forgotten them. I read mostly for character development, for snappy dialog, for Kinsey's observations on life and everything else. I re-read them periodically just for the enjoyment of experiencing Kinsey's wit and snappy comebacks. I agree with a previous reviewer who stated that Peril is two rewrites and an edit short of being ready for publication.Read more ›
Like many other reviewers, I see a number of faults in the book. There are a number of unexplained actions and unresolved plot threads. The person who kills Purcell has probably the least reason of any character to do so. The motivations and actions of Paulie and Leila are unexplained. Did Leila take Purcell's money? If so, what happened to it? Why would Richard's killer throw down his gun, leaving witness Kinsey to report him?
Why would the police not conduct the same easy-and-obvious search at Purcell's wife's home, as they did at his ex-wife's home? Is the reader expected to believe that a passing and casual lesbian relationship would provide motivation to kill your sugar daddy husband? Would Kinsey really take as indisputable truth the speculative newspaper innuendo about the brothers' past? (Surely she knows that what's reported in the papers and what really happened are often quite different.)
Finally, why would Kinsey, having found proof of who committed the murder, walk up to the murderer's home and ask to use the phone to call the cops? There were no other phones in town?
There are a few other bloopers too: an insurance company which lost a suit compelling it to pay a death policy could not file another suit to relitigate the same issues; nor would it be proper to ask the applicant's marital status on a commercial lease application in California.
Further, of the five Spanish words Grafton uses in the book, she manages to get them ALL wrong. The road called "Via Bueno" would be "Via Buena" (no 'í' on street signs), and would mean "Good Road" instead of "Road Good" as Grafton writes. Kinsey reports "I took Spanish in adult education, but I've forgotten everything except 'ola' [hola] and 'buenos dios.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Sue Grafton's series is my favorite addiction! Her stories are exciting and her characters are very real. It's evident she is an observant people watcher. Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2003 by Maria E. Pease
Dr. Purcell has been missing for nine weeks. Kinsey Millhone had followed the disappearance in the newspapers and then his former wife sought her services. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2003 by Mary E. Sibley
Sue Grafton provides her readers with no dearth of suspects in Kinsey Millhone's attempt to solve the disappearance of a doctor suspected of Medicare fraud: a wife and an ex-wife,... Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2003 by Peggy Vincent
I have been reading all the alphabet mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed them. P is for Peril is no different. Read morePublished on Sept. 8 2003 by Sandi K. Cary
I can't imagine what I'm doing writing what appears to be the 255th review of this book. I mean, what more can I add? I feel compelled, though, because this one is superior. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2003 by J Scott Morrison
There is much going on in P is for Peril. The reader must pay close attention or he might get lost in the list of many characters and the various turns and twists of the plot. Read morePublished on June 2 2003 by Evelyn Horan
Kinsey Millhone is hired to investigate the disappearance of nursing home executive Dr. Dowan Purcell by his ex-wife Fiona. Read morePublished on May 11 2003 by Karen Potts
P is for Peril, a novel written by Sue Grafton, can be best described as unpredictable. This book if full of strange occurrences and suspense that will keep the reader captivated... Read morePublished on May 8 2003 by Gisela Cruz
Grafton demonstrates she still knows how to write. But I can't see this one being treated as one of the better enteries in the series. It is still a good read. Read morePublished on April 14 2003