Kinsey Millhone, the author's gritty, appealing P.I., based in California's Santa Teresa ("C" is for Corpse), is hired by shabby alcoholic ex-con John Daggett to deliver a cashier's check for $25,000 to one Tony Gahan, address unknown. A few days later, Daggett's body is washed ashore—accidental drowning according to police. Meanwhile, Kinsey has located Tony Gahan, the teen-aged lone survivor of a family killed by a drunken Daggett in a car crash years before. She's also talked to Daggett's ugly, Bible-spouting wife Essie; his unsavory, colorful friend Billy Polo; his bigamous second wife Lovella, and his sleek, brittle daughter Barbara. Kinsey's conviction that Daggett was killed becomes firmer as she burrows deeper into the hours before his death. A second murder points the way to a dramatic confrontation with the killer. Solid plot with a sometimes poignant undercurrent; a brisk pace; and people and places infused with vivid reality—Grafton gets better all the time.