book jacket

Tim D. Sherer reviews...

P is for Peril
Sue Grafton


Sue Grafton

I'm going to the dentist tomorrow. The last time I was there, he told me that if I felt any pain I should raise my left hand, since raising my right hand would smack him in the face.

Remember the raising the left hand thing.
It's a cliché of detective fiction that Private Investigators don't like missing persons cases. They complain about those as much as divorce work. Missing people don't want to be found. Still, people don't hire detectives to find non-missing persons, so the detectives take the cases.

Dr Dowan Purcell is Kinsey Millhone's missing person in P is for Peril, the latest of the Alphabet mysteries from Sue Grafton. Kinsey sometimes says she thinks taking a case is a mistake - missing person or whatever - but she always takes the case.

Dr. Missing is a respected doctor running a nursing home. He left work and never showed up anywhere. There's money missing from his savings and where is that passport? He's disappeared before but he's been gone an awfully long time. His first wife thinks the police could be doing more. Everybody thinks he's dead.

Licensed Private Detective Kinsey Millhone - being hardboiled - insists on a retainer before trying to follow up on the nine-week-old case. Once she's on the case, we're treated to a police procedural as straight forward as the old Dragnet TV show. Kinsey covers all her bases without expecting to find the good doctor if the police couldn't, even though the cops are pretty helpful this time around.

The investigation leads us through Purcell's first marriage and divorce, a Medicare fraud investigation, and tittering about the respectable elderly doctor marrying - giggle - a showgirl and having - gasp - kinky sex. There's his second wife, their young child, her child from a previous marriage, her child from a previous marriage's no-good friend, the previous husband who looks sinister, her possible lover, the doctor's first wife and kids, the doctor's employers, and an old friend.

Kinsey's index cards come in pretty handy keeping all this straight. The mystery in this book is mainly solved by pulling out all the extraneous facts until there is nothing left but the doctor's disappearance.

There's a lot of talking.

There's one very cool moment where Kinsey finds the doctor. I nodded and said, "Cool."

Anyway, since the main plot of geriatric hi-jinx offers no physical danger for Kinsey or anyone else, Kinsey's personal life drags in some villains. Any hints about this plot will spoil it. I'm just bummed out that Grafton dropped so many hints herself.

Remember the hand thing from the beginning of this review? Hold this book in your right hand while you read it. When you know - know - Kinsey is being set up, raise your left hand.

Okay, it's true of Kinsey's world that everybody tries to take advantage of her except for her gang of wacky sidekicks. People try to put stuff over on her all the time, but I guarantee your left hand will shoot up at a certain page.

Don't raise your right hand or you'll smack yourself in the face with the book. I wish Grafton hadn't smacked us in face with it in the first place.

I've enjoyed the alphabet books - some more, some less.
This is going into the less pile for me. Out of five, I'm giving it:
If you're one of those people who can list off the titles in (what else) alphabetical order (like me), you've already read this book.
P is for Peril
Order it now

If you're a casual Millhone fan, this one isn't the best. Sorry. I was waiting just as long as you were. If you've never read any of the alphabet books, here are
my top four picks:


E is for Evidence
Things burn down. Things blow up. Kinsey flies like Superman.

J is for Judgment

The black wind blows in and Kinsey talks about cats in Spanish.
Order it now.
book jacket

M is for Malice
Prodigal Kinsey impresses her family. The killer rises from the dead and becomes invisible.
Order it now.

N is for Noose
Kinsey digs up the past in a small town where the locals don't even want to sell her gas for her VW bug.
Order it now.

Consider novels by Naomi Sherer available on Amazon

Sagesong cover Rise to the Occasion cover
Coming Soon: Beyond Namche, The Open Door, Wildly in the Rockies


[Home] [What's New] [Products & Services] [Feedback]

Send mail to Webmaster regarding any questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 1997 - 2010 - Salmon River Gazette - All Rights Reserved

Last Modified: Sunday, 28-Jun-2009 23:43:13 EDT