X

November 28, 2016 - X (Sue Grafton). The 24th book in the author's Kinsey Millhone series finds the private investigator juggling several unrelated things at once – and not getting paid for any of it.

It's March 1986 and business is slow. So, when a friend arranges a meeting between Kinsey and a woman who wants to track down the baby she gave up for adoption years ago, Kinsey says yes. That woman, Hallie Betancourt, gives Kinsey a newspaper article, the name Christian Satterfield, and $200. Kinsey finds Satterfield and passes on his address. But, she quickly learns that Hallie Bettancourt is not the woman's real name and the money she got paid with was once used as ransom. Not one to be made a fool of, Kinsey sets out to solve this case for herself.

In the meantime, her landlord, Henry, has new neighbors. An elderly couple named Edna and Joseph has apparently bought the house next door. It doesn't take long for Edna to impose on Henry for rides to the grocery store, the doctor's, etc. Kinsey is suspicious, but it takes a spike in Henry's water bill to put Kinsey on the right track.

And, finally, there's some unfinished business from the previous book to take care of. Kinsey has stayed in touch with Ruth, the widow of Pete Wolinsky, the PI who was murdered in W is for Wasted. Ruth asks for Kinsey's help to go through his old papers, and they discover an envelope filled with keepsakes that go back nearly 30 years. The envelope also contains a coded list of names. Kinsey promises to make sure the envelope gets to the person it’s intended for, and it's a promise that ultimately puts Kinsey's life in extreme danger.

In past novels, we've seen seemingly separate story lines converge. Not so here. The plotlines stay on their individual tracks, much like a chef cooking meals for three separate tables. Two come to a definitive end, but you wonder if Grafton will revisit the third in Y or Z. Overall, it's not a bad book, but it generally lacked the suspense and feeling of danger that imbues so many of the Kinsey Millhone novels.