‘D’ is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton 1987
Grafton likes to start the story after the events with a look back through Kinsey’s eyes. If anyone defines deadbeat it is John Daggett who wants her to find a 15-year-old boy named Tony and give him a check for $25,000. The check he pays Kinsey with bounces though, and before she can confront him, he turns up dead in an “accidental” drowning. Kinsey discovers Daggett is a drunk and killed five people in a car crash.
The relatives are all suspects, and she interviews each one, whittling away as the clues point toward a blond in a green skirt and high heels. Unfortunately, there are plenty of blonds who match the description of the woman last seen with Daggett.
The story doesn’t preach against drunk driving, but each family is tormented by Daggett’s alcoholism and survivorship guilt haunts more than one of the characters. This book could be analyzed and torn apart to create several new mystery novels.
Kinsey reveals a little more about losing her parents in a car crash and being raised by an aunt, and she identifies with Tony, whose family was killed in the car crash and is being raised by his aunt. She enjoys being single and hooks up with Jonah, the cop struggling with his wife’s concept of an open marriage. Grafton brings back Mike from ‘B’ for a small role as well.
Kinsey makes a big mistake leaving important items in her car, including her gun, and someone breaks the window and steals it. The gun comes back to haunt her.
A subplot of stealing money from Daggett seems weak compared to the drama of the family dealing with the loss of loved ones in a senseless car crash. I would have liked more time spent with Tony to help explain his character more. No reason was given for Daggett giving the money to Tony either unless I missed it. There were other victims he didn’t compensate so why Tony? Also even though there is a psychiatrist in the list of characters, Kinsey never talks to him. It seemed odd since she is normally so thorough.