SUE GRAFTON – “L” Is for Lawless. Kinsey Milhone #12. Henry Holt, hardcover, 1995. Fawcett Crest, paperback, 1996.

   The Grafton/Milhone express keeps chugging along. I really liked the “K” book. Matter of fact, I’ve liked most of her books. She’s one of the few bestsellers who I think generally lives up to her reputation and sales. Most of the time I rate her and Muller about even, way ahead of Paretsky.

   Kinsey is getting ready to attend a wedding. Her landlord’s brother and her Hungarian friend Rosie are getting hitched, but a little before the happy event her landlord asks her to help out the relatives of an old acquaintance of his, said acquaintance being recently deceased. It seems the man was supposed to have been a veteran, but when his relatives try to get benefits from the government, no record of him exists.

   Kinsey is asked to see what she can do, and the seemingly innocent and simple request turns into something very complex indeed, and dangerous. The dead little old man was more than he seemed, and had some very nasty friends.

   Grafton still writes well, but the plot in this one left me so cold that I basically skip-read the last third or so. I didn’t believe any of it, and I didn’t get interested in it. I didn’t give a damn about any of the characters aside from Kinsey, either, and she acted like an idiot for most of the book I’m sure most of her fans will love it, but the best I can say is it wasn’t egregiously bad. It sure wasn’t good, though.

   I seem to be a lot more demanding of rational behavior from my fictional heroes than most people are; or maybe I just have different ideas as to what’s rational. Sometimes I wish I didn’t, because it spoils a lot of books for me that I might otherwise like.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #21, August-September 1995