Kinsey Millhone finds yet another way to be connected to a sudden death: as the victim’s executor and sole heir.
The first contact Kinsey has with Terrence Dace is in the Santa Teresa coroner’s office after investigator Aaron Blumberg phones her to say that a homeless drunk has been found dead with her name and phone number in his pocket. Kinsey’s ignorance of the man is so profound, and his recent companions—Felix, Dandy and Pearl—are so closemouthed about supplying information about him, that it takes her quite a while even to track down his name. Once she does, though, things start to happen. A safe deposit box in Dace’s name reveals assets of over half a million dollars and a will that leaves it all to Kinsey, who’s also appointed his executor. Taking this unwelcome job as seriously as you’d expect, Kinsey drives out to Bakersfield to inform Dace’s son, Ethan, and his daughters, Ellen and Anna, that the father from whom they’ve long been estranged for perfectly logical reasons is dead and that he’s disinherited them all in favor of a woman they’ve never heard of. Kinsey’s ticklish dealings with these ill-assorted mourners are deliciously fraught. But the case takes a turn toward more conventional waters as Grafton (Kinsey and Me, 2012, etc.) begins to connect it to the shooting several months back of unsavory private eye Pete Wolinsky, whose death was anything but the byproduct of a robbery that it first seemed. Throughout it all, Kinsey, practically unique among her professional cohort, is driven not by greed, lust or revenge, but by the simple desire to do the right thing.
As she approaches the end of the alphabet, Kinsey waxes ever more reflective and philosophical.