'E' IS FOR EVIDENCE
Tough, vulnerable, twice-divorced P.I. Kinsey Millhone ("C"Is For Corpse, etc.) is being framed for insurance fraud, along with Lance Wood, president of Wood/Warren, manufacturer of industrial furnaces, whose warehouse has burned down. Kinsey--an investigator at California Fidelity Insurance--has been suspended in the wake of hanky-panky with insurance reports and a mysterious $5,000 deposit to her bank account. Self-preservation therefore pushes her to intense scrutiny of the Woods and their business. There are five children, none of them the straight arrow their deceased self-made father would have liked. Ebony is back from Europe and a failed marriage; would-be actor Bass lives a feckless life in New York; idle, self-indulgent Olive is married to Terry Kohler, the company vice-president; only chubby, good-natured Ash, a former high-school classmate of Kinsey's, seems reasonably stable. Meanwhile, lots of old and new family tensions surface as Kinsey continues to probe, but only the suicide two years before of company engineer Hugh Case seems to provide a possible lead. Then Olive is killed in a bomb explosion; Kinsey finds the body of Case's widow, Lyda; ex-husband Daniel suddenly reappears--and Fidelity's sales manager, Andy Motycka, as suddenly disappears. Kinsey gets it all together at last, of course, just in time for a hairsbreadth escape from a vicious killer. The taut, dense plot is marred by a crucial flaw, but an unflagging pace, skilled buildup of tension, lively characters, and Kinsey's offbeat charm make this yet another of the author's first-class entertainments.