Summary: Not her best effort, but...
Review: Sue Grafton has been writing this alphabet series for a while now, and she's gotten good enough at it that when she's not in top form, she's still pretty good, and can get away with a bit. That's what happens here; the book's not that good, but Kinsey Millhone is fun anyway.
In this installment, Kinsey's hired by a scorned ex-wife to look for her lost husband, who's not only abandoned her but disappeared some time later. The hubby has a new wife (a much younger ex-stripper), a nursing home he supervises that's in trouble, and various partners, co-workers, friends, and family. Kinsey must sort through all of this to figure out what happened to the good doctor, and once she figures that out, more questions abound.
Meanwhile, Kinsey's also looking for new office space, and there's a handsome stranger offering to rent to her at a reasonable rate. This was the weakest part of the book to me. It seemed to read a bit like a Silhouette romance (not that I've ever read one, but this is how I imagine they would read) and be more than a bit predictable. The author did manage to pull off one surprise for you at the end of this. On the other hand, she left you wondering about something too.
The whole book does that, a bit, and it's just a bit annoying. Grafton's gotten in the habit of doing this: not completely finishing her story, tying up all the loose ends. I'm sure she would tell us that life's like that, but this is fiction, not life. A good book, but a bit annoying.
Summary: A Must Read!
Review: 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 till the very end. The main plot of this story is that Dowan Purcell, a well-respected doctor, has disappeared. Dr. Purcell is a man in his sixties whom has gone missing. This is where the main character comes into play. Kinsey Millhone, a unique 36-year old detective, is hired by Dr. Purcell's ex-wife, Fiona Purcell to investigate his disappearance. His current wife Crystal, a former striper, seems to not care of his whereabouts. She calls the police department 48 hours after he does not come home. Dowan Purcell is an administrator of a nursing home, and both he and the office are under investigation for Medicare fraud. Dowan's passport is missing and his bank account has decreased by $30,000. What is really of interest is that Henry, Kinsey Millhone's landlord and confidant, had a relative who had been a patient in the nursing home, is being charged for services after her death. Kinsey Millhone's investigations lead to the finding of Dr. Purcell's body behind his ex-wife's house. At the end of the book, there are several suspects with motives into why they might have murdered Dr. Purcell; for example, both of his wives and some business partners, and Crystal's out of control teenage daughter. In the end, the author leaves the reader to interpret and analyze the evidence to determine who the culprit is. Grafton does not explicitly state who the murderer is. You will have to read the book and decide for yourself...
Summary: Another Winner
Review: 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.
Because I love her series so much, I decided to start one of my own. Under False Pretense is the first and I am presently working on my second book. I can understand why Sue enjoys Kinsey so much. You get to know so much about the characters they become a part of you. I love spending time with Samantha Parker as much as the many hours I've spent and continue to spend with Kinsey. I'll miss her after Z.
Summary: A return to high quality
Review: I began following the adventures of Kinsey Millhone when _A Is for Alibi_ came out in 1982 and I've stuck with the series ever since. I'm not generally a fan of procedurals, but I make an exception for Grafton. By now, Kinsey is a fully realized personality -- as are her landlord, the octogenarian Henry, Rosie the Hungarian tavernkeeper, her acquaintances on the police force, and all the other repeating characters. This time, she has to unravel another missing persons case, the subject of the investigation being a prominent doctor (on his second wife, but she's been hired by the first wife) who seems to have been involved in a Medicare scam. And just to keep things interesting, there's a secondary plot involving two brothers from whom Kinsey is considering renting new office space -- which leads to a couple of fairly unnerving scenes. The plot develops logically and Grafton is adept at letting you (and Kinsey) stray off on dead-end paths. Nothing important was telegraphed -- not to me, anyway. My only real complaint is probably picky (except that I'm an editor, so it doesn't seem picky to me), and that's the poor job of editing from which the last few books in the series have suffered. For instance, though one of the supporting characters is named Harvey Broadus, when Kinsey finally meets him, he introduces himself as "Harry" Broadus. And the rear entrance to a building is consistently spelled as one word, "backdoor." Very sloppy. But I'll forgive that for a really good story. Along about the middle of the alphabet, though, Grafton seemed to flag. "L," "M," and "N," were pretty mediocre; in one of those, she used the verb "to tuck" about once every three pages, making me want to scream every time I read it. They also showed a lot of laziness in the research. (She obviously had never personally bothered to check out the area around Dallas!) So I was beginning to worry that the series might never be completed. But "O" was a great improvement, and I'm happy to say that "P" is the best one yet.
Summary: Grafton Noir
Review: This is a departure for Kinsey Milhone. The mood is dark as the skies and as retro as an early Ross McDonald novel. The main plot is diffuse with unattractive, complex characters taking the center stage. A beloved elderly physician has disappeared. His eccentric but charmless ex-wife wants him found. His present wife, a former stripper, thinks he is dead. Nobody and nothing are quite as they seem. The missing doctor has a drinking problem and some quirky sexual needs. The ex-wife in her unfinished, stark and bare art deco home calls to mind Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard." The trophy-wife, aptly named Crystal, seems fragile and dependent. She has a strange ménage who consist of an utterly repellent 14-year old out-of-control daughter, her 18-month old son and his ghostly male nanny, and an ever-present friend who happens to be the daughter's school counselor.
"Peril" is a decidedly ambitious book, and succeeds on many levels. The sometimes lyrical descriptions of weather, architecture and mood show growth and depth in Ms. Grafton's writing. However, she tries to do too much and the story sprawls. A secondary plot, though entertaining, is a diversion and fragments the reader's interest. She interjects a hilarious interlude with a hidden Kinsey trapped under a desk, a reluctant witness to a lovers' tryst. Again, funny and clever as this is, it does not forward the story. I had the feeling Ms. Grafton threw these in to placate her legion of Kinsey fans. Kinsey's regular pals, Henry and Rosie seem out of place in this setting. Think Ms. Grafton should bite the bullet and write a book without Kinsey, not in the alphabet series, and see how it goes
The ending is subtle but clear if you mentally review what you have read. The clues are all there. I had to smile at the cleverness.
Summary: No Peril in "P is For Peril" by Sue Grafton
Review: There is very little peril except for the reader who might fall asleep from sheer boredom. Instead, this slow, boring book should have been titled as "P is for Poor."
Dr Dowan Purcell has been missing for weeks when Kinsey receives a call from his ex-wife Fiona. Fiona, a potentially difficult client at best, is sure the good doctor ran away from his current wife Crystal. Fiona is convinced that she drove him away and that he eventually would have come back to her. Instead, to avoid the evil clutches of Crystal, the Doctor has skipped to Central America or maybe even Europe. Fiona is abusive and condescending and still Kinsey agrees to take the case.
She then sets out on a tedious and detailed canvass of everyone and anyone that ever knew Dr. Purcell. She starts with his current wife Crystal who is convinced now that nine weeks have passed, that he is dead. She seems accepting of the possibility and has her hands full with her out of control daughter, Leila. Leila does not break new ground and like all the other characters in this novel, comes right out of character maker software. Leila is a classic out of control teenager. If you have ever seen any talk television or were unlucky to have a punk in your neighborhood, this is Leila. She hates her life and everything she has and spends the novel whining and rebelling. This allows the reader to meet the biological father as well as the other characters that populate Leila's world.
Along the way, as she investigates the doctor and the nursing home where Dr. Purcell was a glorified administrator, Kinsey manages to get herself into a conflict between brothers. After renting out office space from them, she finds out that they probably killed their parents and fled from Texas with ill-gotten gains. Unlike the notorious Menendez brothers, these two seem to have gotten away with it until now.
With stereotypical characters, plodding action, and a weak story that just does not move for much of this 352-page novel, this offering is a real disappointment.
Summary: Art Deco
Review: 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. He was the director of a care facility. The client collects art deco.
Sue Grafton's character is an effective protoganist. She represents good in the war waged in genre fiction of good against evil. She is refreshing, not rule bound, considerate of others, her elderly neighbors for example, and seeks to cut through the noisy insincerities of social intercourse to reach the truth. She is a sort of Western star, a loner, she explains, in female garb. Her roughness is meant to be endering and one has to admit that Grafton is successful.
Kinsey Millhone is looking for a new office. Kinsey discovers the nursing home was under investigation when Dow Purcell disappeared. The investigation was being conducted by HCFA on medicare billing. An associate wondered if the missing man could handle the loss of face in the event of prosecution. Dow may have been a good practitioner and an incompetent adminstrator. A former employee certainly held such a view of the situation.
In the midst of the investigation into his disappearance, which at least from a reader's perspective finally seems to be going somewhere, Kinsey learns of questionable conduct on the part of her prospective landlords. She does not know if she is inclined to use her investigative skills to discover their crimes to help an insurance company, but at a minimum decides to back out of the rental. She continues to have a contentious relationship with her client and feels that spending time on the case in order to justify the retainer accepted is a form of indentured servitude.
Kinsey locates the dead man's car in water. The most interesting parts of the story are the medicare fraud strand. The villians portrayed are pretty convincing. Peril is a good word for the position of the characters in this yarn. Under the circumstances Kinsey Millhone would be a good person to know. The book is a nice job of writing.
Summary: No dearth of suspects
Review: 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, several daughters and stepdaughters, nannies, teachers, nurses aides...lordy, the list goes on. Kinsey probably had to go out and buy a few more packs of file cards to rearrange on her bulletin board.
Pretty good, but not Grafton's best in this generally terrific series.
Summary: Enjoyable Read
Review: I have been reading all the alphabet mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed them. P is for Peril is no different. The ending has no epilogue as others have had and I enjoy figuring out for myself what Kinsey finally figured out. The flirtation with the landlord was fun to read about and the results very surprising. I love the way Sue Grafton writes, although sometimes at the end the descriptions get tiring when I want to know WHO DUN IT? I look forward to reading Q is for Quarry and then what's next? I have gotten my daughter and friend into these books as well and they love them too!!
Thanks to Sue Grafton for a thoroughy entertaining read. Peace.
Summary: The Best Grafton Yet
Review: 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.
I've read each of the Sue Grafton books, A through P, (actually I've read Q, too) and I think this is the best one yet. The plot is extremely complex but also extremely clearly laid out. PI Kinsey Millhone makes her investigation without seeming to do much--clever lady. And further, she gets involved in TWO mysteries, one completely unintentionally. It will come as no surprise to you that she manages to sort it all out. As a retired physician, I was pleased that she tackled, among other things, the currently hot subject of Medicare fraud.
I do find myself wondering, though, what Kinsey Millhone will do when she has reached Z. Maybe she'll start with primary numbers which, I'm told, are infinite. All the better for us.