Kinsey Millhone witnesses a shoplifter at work, to the considerable cost of them both.
Kinsey is minding her own business, looking through a bin of sale underpants at Nordstrom, when she spots a woman loading her handbag with quite a bit of merchandise. Like a good citizen, she alerts the salesclerk, who just happens to be her friend Claudia Rines, and Claudia alerts security. All would be well if only Audrey Vance, the shoplifter, didn’t smell trouble; if only she weren’t working with an accomplice who tries to complete her escape by running down Kinsey in her Mercedes; and if Audrey, the day after she’s arrested and bailed out, didn’t turn up dead. Audrey’s fiancé Marvin Striker, who’s such a nice man that he can’t believe his ladylove was shoplifting, let alone involved with a highly organized ring of thieves, hires Kinsey to find out why she might have killed herself. But a second plotline has already informed readers that Audrey was murdered at the behest of her criminal associate Cappi Dante. Meanwhile, in a third plotline, society wife Nora Vogelsang realizes that her husband Channing, an entertainment attorney, has been entertaining himself with another woman and plots..,not revenge exactly, but satisfaction. Grafton (U Is for Undertow, 2009, etc.) pays out all three lines with patient expertise and a sharp eye for homely details. But none of them catches fire until Kinsey runs afoul of Sgt. Det. Leonard Priddy, of the Santa Teresa Police Department, and then gets squeezed by likable ex-con Pinky Ford, who just can’t stay on the straight and narrow. And when the three strands of the story finally come together, one of them doesn’t seem to be pulling its weight.
As always, Grafton is as original, absorbing and humane as ever. The joints just creak a bit this time.