'M' IS FOR MALICE
If only Bader Malek, head of Santa Teresa's Malek Construction, had held onto his last will--the one disinheriting his wayward son Guy in favor of his three brothers who dutifully stayed the course at their father's house--the surviving Maleks wouldn't have to hire Kinsey Millhone to dig up the brother they wish would just stay lost, or at least sign a quitclaim to his $5 million share of the estate. But it looks as if Bader's old will, which duly mentions Guy along with all the others, will hold up, so Kinsey--setting aside her old lover Robert Dietz, who's turned up again like a bad penny of her own--goes hunting for Guy, last seen departing the family manse in 1968 amid a cloud of drink and drugs and a reputation for having raised every sort of hell within his reach. It's so easy for Kinsey to find Guy, now a janitor/handyman at Peter Antle's Jubilee Evangelical Church, that you just know that something besides the fatted calf will be killed at the prodigal's homecoming, and sure enough, Guy, improbably sweetened by his long exile, is bludgeoned to death as he sleeps in his father's house. Is the killer construction heir-apparent Donovan Malek, slick, self-described venture capitalist Bennet, or golfer Jack, the lightweight family mascot who never got over his infatuation with his missing brother? Or does the family disharmony go deeper than mere greed into a truly malicious series of betrayals? Polished, heartfelt work from Grafton ("L" is for Lawless, 1995, etc.), though you wouldn't give the antique plot the time of day if it weren't for Kinsey.