B is for Burlgar by Sue Grafton 1985
It’s been three years since Sue wrote ‘A’ is for Alibi and it shows in her writing. Where ‘A’ started a bit slow, ‘B’ moves the story at a faster pace from the very beginning. It starts at a simple missing person job. Kinsey Millhone needs to find Elaine Boldt because her sister Beverly needs her signature on a legal document.
The story becomes more interesting when Elaine’s departure for Florida coincides with a burglary in which the neighbor, Marty, was bludgeoned to death and the house set on fire. Her husband Leonard is staying with his sister Lily and nephew Mike is growing pot in the shed behind the charred ruins of his former home. Kinsey has to travel to Florida to see if Elaine ever made it. Pat claims to be subletting her apartment but she claims Elaine picked her up at the airport and drove her here. Grafton drops a big clue. Elaine doesn’t drive. Pat is lying but why? When Beverly wants to drop the case, Julia in Florida pays for the investigation. Kinsey travels between California and Florida to piece together the facts. She also enlist the help of a cop to bypass Dolan’s stuck investigation. When she checks into the insurance angle, the policy on Marty and their home insurance was small and provides no motive. She can’t find a motive for anyone to get rid of Elaine so where is she?
Small things add up to the big picture. I liked how Kinsey uses a clipboard and claims to be from the insurance company so she can interview Leonard. She makes friends with old ladies and Mohawk-haired teenage boys with ease. Jonah is introduced as a possible love interest but timing is wrong for both of them. Kinsey’s tenacity is shown as well as some background information into her personal life. An aunt raised her after her parents died – the cause wasn’t revealed. It was the same aunt who took her to a gun range at a young age and set her on the path to law enforcement and future private investigator. I suspect more of her personal life will be revealed through the remaining books. At least I hope so. I won’t tell you more of the plot and ruin it, but the pieces begin to add up and the book’s ending is a nail biter because Kinsey left her gun locked in her office.