Nine weeks after Dr. Dowan Purcell left the Pacific Meadows medical facility he administered, then vanished along with his passport and $30,000, his ex-wife Fiona, disgusted alike at the Santa Teresa Police Department’s lack of progress on the case and the lackadaisical attitude of Dow’s current wife, ex-stripper Crystal, calls in Kinsey Millhone. What can Kinsey do that the cops haven’t or can’t? She can rattle the cages at Crystal’s place—where her messed-up teenaged daughter Leila and her personal trainer Clint Augustine take turns creating opportunities for gossip—and at Pacific Meadows—where an investigation for Medicare fraud has blown some employees away and left the rest paranoid. Faced with the need to investigate not only Dow’s big, quarrelsome family but Meadows moneymen Joel Glazer and Harvey Broadus, what’s a shamus to do? Spend some quality time getting just a little too close to her new landlord’s twin brother, of course, providing the heat behind Grafton’s title while extending Kinsey’s string of relationships with unsuitable men. After the narrow focus of Kinsey’s last few alphabetical adventures, the generous canvas here is a joy, and if the wealth of characters and subplots prevents Grafton from keeping any of them in the frame for very long, the audaciously foreshortened denouement shows her heroine at her most beguiling.
After twenty years updating the private-eye tradition, Grafton shows she can spin a classic yarn with all the breadth of her masters, and a sharper eye for detail than any of them.