Main characters: Kinsey Millhone
Time and place: December 1982 – January 1983; Santa Teresa, California
First sentence: “It was Monday, December 27, and I was sitting in my office, trying to get a fix on the mood I was in, which was bad, bad, bad, comprised of equal parts irritation and un easiness.”
Summary: A seemingly simple fire insurance investigation brings Kinsey in contact with an old acquaintance: Lance Wood, brother of Kinsey’s high school friend Ashley. Everything looks all right, a clear accident, and that’s what Kinsey reports to her superiors. Or tries to, because when she gets there she discovers she’s been framed, as the official file is completely different from the one she had. So much so that there’s clear evidence of arson, making Kinsey a suspect of trying to cover it up. The fact that five thousand dollars have mysteriously appeared in her bank account does not help things either. All leads up to a single conclusion: Kinsey has to move fast and uncover the real perpetrator before she herself is arrested and put on trial.
The first things I noticed in this book about the characters were their names. We have one Linden Wood, one Ebony Wood and one Olive Wood. Sure, the rest of the cast has normal names (like Lyda Case or Ashley Wood) but the first few caught my attention. Also, it’s perhaps the strongest case of cognitive dissonance I have ever met while reading a book, I kept thinking of Ebony as being African-American (yes, with more or less ebony skin, but also because usually the Ebonies are indeed dark skinned) and of Olive as being Latina (yes, with olive skin, how obvious was that), when in fact she was blonde no less. I did of course manage to think of them as them, the ones in this book, after a while — but I find it oh so interesting because it’s the first time in memory when this has happened to me.
As usual, in this book we find out a bit more about Kinsey, our main character. This time an important part of her past is back in town: her second husband, who has abandoned her after less than a year of marriage and countless infidelities. Kinsey’s current sort of boyfriend (Jonah, from the previous books) has taken his family somewhere to ski, and Kinsey is feeling a bit under the weather due to her having to spend the holidays by herself. And then Daniel (the ex) appears out of a sudden at Kinsey’s door and it’s obvious that she still has some leftover feelings for him. Kinsey in love, and Kinsey betrayed: two new sides of her that we get to discover in this book.
What I liked most: I am in love with the series — for some reason I find them a very relaxing read. Perhaps because the rhythm is not very alert, very little stuff blows up and mostly we get to watch Kinsey more around trying to unearth information. Don’t get me wrong, I like a suspense novel with rapidly succeeding events just as much as anyone else, and yet I seem to like these “quieter” books very much too. While I am still trying to put my finger on the reason why, this quote of Kinsey’s offers a possible explanation: “I love information. Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist, digging for facts, uncovering data with my wits and a pen.“. And it seems like I very much enjoy watching Kinsey digging for facts and uncovering data, hee hee. :)
What I liked least: This has got to be the most predictable book in what I read so far (and I have not enjoyed it very much because of that).
It all started when show spoiler
Recommend it to? Mystery book lovers, especially those who like female PIs. This being said this has not been my favorite book in the series so you might want to start off with another one (so far anything would work since there is no actual connection between the books other than the main characters so each works on its own quite well). Then again, I met lots of reviews that named this as one of the best books in the series so to each its own.
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