SUE GRAFTON – “G” Is for Gumshoe. Henry Holt & Co., hardcover, 1990. Fawcett Crest, paperback, June 1991. Many later printings.

SUE GRAFTON G Is for Gumshoe

   This is the one in which the titular gumshoe is not Kinsey Millhone, the PI who celebrates her 33rd birthday at the beginning — unless of course it is — but I really think it has to be a fellow named Dietz, who’s brought into Kinsey’s life soon after the 100 page mark (depending on which edition you happen to be reading).

   He’s there as a bodyguard. As a direct consequence of a previous case that Kinsey helped solve, there’s been a hit man hired, she is the target, and the man is very very good at what he does. But so is Dietz, as Kinsey soon learns.

   This is the interesting part of the book. Obviously the notoriously independent Kinsey Millhone does not want to have anyone holding her hand for her (figuratively speaking), but she soon discovers (as I pointed out in the paragraph above) that Dietz is good, and that on her own, she might not be good enough.

   This is a sobering lesson. She also discovers that the two of them are kindred spirits who just happen to have never met before. (This comes as no special surprise.)

   The part of the book that is not as interesting — in comparison — is the case she’s to been hired to do: find a woman’s 80-year-old mother who’s been living alone in an isolated part of the state (California) and hasn’t been heard of in quite a while. This sounds easy enough, and it is, but bringing the old woman back to San Teresa brings back memories too, and not so pleasant ones at that.

   The results are what always happen when PI’s start digging into the past, and you will need a good genealogical chart to keep the participants straight, most of them dead and buried, but not all.

   The ending of the hit man saga has the better climax of the two. We all know that Kinsey, who tells the story, will survive. It is Dietz that we are far more worried about — not knowing if he returns in later books or not — and that concern is what will have you turning the pages as fast as you can turn them, I guarantee you.

   There are probably ups and downs in the Millhone series, and while I haven’t read all of them, I enjoyed this one. One thumb up. Unless I’m allowed to use both hands, in which case, two.