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Posts Tagged ‘long-lost relative’

W IS FOR WASTED by Sue Grafton: Book Review

Kinsey Millhone is back, and I’m delighted to see her.  There’s a lot going on in W is for Wasted–a will, long-lost relatives, an unethical private eye, a returning former lover–but it all hangs together, given Sue Grafton’s always excellent character studies and plots.  The story is told in the first person by Kinsey and in the third person by Pete Wolinsky, whom we discover is dead in the third sentence of the prologue.

It’s 1988, and Kinsey is taking a brief vacation from investigating.  Her bank balance is healthy, her needs are modest, and she’s delighted to have a few days to herself.  Then she gets a call from a friend at the coroner’s office, asking her to identify a body The deceased was homeless, and a slip of paper found in his pocket bore Kinsey’s name and phone number.

When Kinsey goes to view the body in the morgue she tells the coroner’s assistant she has never seen the man before.   Intrigued by why the deceased was apparently trying to contact her, she decides to try to find out who this man was.  From small acorns do mighty oaks grow.

Kinsey’s first stop is the area where the body was found, and there she meets three of the man’s friends.  After a bit of verbal sparring, one of the trio tells her Terrence was the dead man’s name, and Kinsey’s investigation begins.

Deceased private investigator Pete Wolinsky’s story is told by an unknown narrator.  He was a P.I. without a moral compass, a man who got others to do his investigating, falsified his expense accounts, owed money to countless businesses, didn’t file tax returns, and wasn’t above subtle extortion attempts.  That last one was a big mistake on his part.

As readers of the alphabet series know, Kinsey was orphaned at an early age and raised by her maternal aunt.  Aunt Gin wasn’t much of a warm-and-fuzzy person, and she apparently had no use for the members of her family other than Kinsey.  Thus Kinsey didn’t know, until years after her aunt’s death, that she had a large family on her mother’s side living not far from her home in Santa Teresa, California.

She’d never been much interested in them and had seen no reason to look into her father’s side of the family.  But now they’ve entered her life with a vengeance.

Several familiar characters are in W, and very welcome they are.  Of course there’s Henry Pitts, the octogenarian landlord, former baker, and current provider of delicious meals and desserts for Kinsey; his older brother William, a confirmed hypochondriac; Rosie Pitts, recently married to William and owner of the nearby Hungarian restaurant where Kinsey eats most of her meals; and Kinsey’s former lover, Robert Dietz.  And there’s a new addition:  Ed the cat, who soon has Kinsey and Henry eating out of his hand (or paw).

W is for Wasted is another winning novel by Sue Grafton.  It’s fun for me, who knew Kinsey from the beginning (A is for Alibi), to follow her personal and professional life.  She has not remained a stagnant figure, stuck in time, but has grown into a mature woman who still has the recognizable quirks that made her a success from the beginning of the series.

You can read more about Sue Grafton at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.