Well, that was OK. I appreciate that Grafton is experimenting with different forms, here the alternation between Kinsey’s first-person narration and third-person narration from the perspective of the “chilling sociopath” Kinsey ends up in a sort of cat-and-mouse game with.* The effect is to switch genres, from mystery to suspense. I think the strategy would have been more interesting and exciting if there had been more ambiguity in the second narrative: knowing she’s evil, we’re just waiting for Kinsey to catch on, and knowing Kinsey is a series character, we’re pretty confident she’s not going to get taken out, so the suspense is always constrained. I did appreciate what may be our first outside look at Kinsey: before this, did we know she has green eyes? The book ends on an oddly didactic note; perhaps taking a cue from Sara Paretsky‘s fondness of taking on current social issues in her mysteries, Grafton has taken on elder-abuse here, but she has kept her series so carefully in the past that it’s not obviously appropriate or logical for Kinsey, back in 1989 or whatever, to urge us to “make a difference.” The back-dating does let Grafton have a little fun remembering a time when computers were expensive and rare. The writing is competent, but I don’t see why she gives us quite so much detail. Do we need to know what Kinsey does down to specified 15-minute intervals?
The back jacket quotes Patrick Anderson of The Washington Post Book World claiming that the “Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.” Maybe he doesn’t read much?
*The phrase “chilling sociopath” is from the inside jacket, which has to be one of the worst-written book blurbs I’ve ever read (“The true horror of this novel builds with excruciating tension as the reader foresees the awfulness that lies ahead.”).