'K' IS FOR KILLER
Spunky, ever more introspective Santa Teresa, California, PI Kinsey Millhone ("A" Is for Alibi, 1982; etc.) has been hired to investigate the 10-month-old murder of Lorna Kepler, found two weeks after she died in her isolated cabin. The police case is going nowhere, and Lorna's inconsolable mother wants her daughter's killer found, although Lorna's sisters and surly father, Mace, seem resigned and almost indifferent. Facets of Lorna's many-sided existence surface quickly as Kinsey begins to probe. Part-time receptionist at a water purification plant run by Roger Bonney, Lorna led her real life at night -- all dressed up for a generous customer or undressed for the making of a porn movie. She amassed and cannily invested a small fortune and acted as financial adviser to Danielle, an intimate friend also on the game but at a more mundane level. What were Lorna's connections to respected, ailing VIP Clark Esselmann and to the trio of polite thugs who question Kinsey in the back of a block-long limo? Who was the man Lorna expected to marry in Las Vegas, and where is the $20,000 withdrawn from one of her accounts just before she died? Kinsey finds answers, of course, working through a maze of offbeat characters and schools of red herrings. Plotting here is animated, though not always cohesive or convincing, and Grafton's lively prose propels the reader through the murky patches in a flawed but mostly engrossing story.