What does X stand for? Xanakis, XLNT, maybe even Father Xavier, all features of Kinsey Millhone’s dense, meaty 24th case.
The drought of 1989 is causing anxiety all over Santa Teresa, but money seems to have rained down on Kinsey’s latest client, Hallie Bettancourt, who’s seeking the current whereabouts of just-released robber Christian Satterfield, the son she had when she was only 15. Kinsey makes a few calls, rings a few bells, tracks down the address, and sends it on to the client, only to discover that everything Hallie told her, from her name to her relationship with Satterfield, was false. To add insult to injury, one of the $100 bills Hallie, or whoever she was, insisted on paying Kinsey is one of the same bills wealthy Ari Xanakis used two years ago to ransom a Turner painting back for $25,000 from his ex-wife, Teddy, who’d taken it upon herself to add it to the divorce settlement. Meanwhile, Kinsey’s gotten involved in another equally messy case, driven by her unwelcome suspicion that her late colleague Pete Wolinsky—hired years ago by salesman Ned Lowe’s attorney, Arnold Ruffner, to dig up dirt that would impeach the testimony of Taryn Sizemore, who’d accused him of harassment and stalking—had cast his net further and decided to blackmail either Lowe or someone else connected with the case. Showing as much initiative as Hallie or Pete and a lot more rectitude, Kinsey resolves to close the book on Pete’s shadowy game and to return a pair of sentimental religious keepsakes she’d found hidden in Pete’s files to their rightful owner. A droll drought-driven subplot revolving around Henry Pitts, Kinsey’s ancient landlord, is the icing on the cake.
Grafton’s endless resourcefulness in varying her pitches in this landmark series (W Is for Wasted, 2013, etc.), graced by her trademark self-deprecating humor, is one of the seven wonders of the genre.