SUE GRAFTON – “I” is for Innocent. Kinsey Millhone #9. Henry Holt, hardcover, 1992. Fawcett, paperback, 1993.

   I like the way Sue Grafton writes. Depending on the day and the book, she is quite often my favorite writer of female PI stories, and Kinsey Millhone my favorite female PI; both are always high on the list regardless of sex. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed the ninth Kinsey.

   Kinsey has lost her office and sinecure with California Fidelity, and is now freelancing with a Santa Teresa law firm. One of the partners is handling a civil suit involving a murder; the defendant has been acquitted of criminal charges in the murder of his wife, but her family hasn’t given up.

   The private detective who has been working on the case for the firm has died of a heart attack, and the lawyer wants Kinsey to take over. She does, and finds there are a lot more loose ends to tie up than she had thought. Even worse, key witnesses begin to lose credibility and the possibility of the defendant’s innocence looms large; not what Kinsey is supposed to be proving.

   The plot is twisty and well handled, though once again there is the obligatory shootout at the end; these have become so prevalent that they have begun to annoy me even when justified. Kinsey is her usual very human, appealing self — which is to say that I like the voice Grafton gives her. The book is written in her straightforward narrative style, refreshingly free from angst and unfocused anger. She writes a detective story rather than a polemic, and by now you’ve probably figured out that I prefer the former. A good book in a good series — what more do you want?

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #5, January 1993.