Kinsey Millhone's personal life is so dreary that even her
octogenarian pal and landlord, Henry, is a social butterfly by
comparison. At least Henry has a girlfriend. Kinsey's doldrums are
lifted when she accepts what appears to be an easy-money assignment
from a wealthy local resident. Pick up his errant daughter, Reba
Lafferty, from prison. Make sure she registers with the parole
board and stays away from booze, drugs and bad company for a few
days until she gets back on her feet. A piece of cake, right?
Fans of Grafton's popular alphabet series will be nodding knowingly
that the simplest assignment can turn from cake to hash in less
time than it takes to open the box. Reba Lafferty turns out to be a
handful. She has been spoiled rotten by an indulgent, elderly
father who blames her downfall on bad choices in life and friends.
These include not only alcohol and drugs but also embezzlement from
her employer. Also, she has picked up some pretty interesting pals
in prison, to no small concern of her father.
As Kinsey soon discovers, after peering through a hedge and
observing a steamy reunion between Reba and her ex-employer within
hours of her release from imprisonment for stealing money from
his company, there's a whole lot more going on than meets
Meanwhile, Kinsey keeps running into an old flame, Cheney, from the
FBI. Is it personal, business, or a little of both? She discovers
that not only is the FBI trying to reel him in, but the IRS is hot
on his tail. When details start to emerge on how big a fish Reba's
former boss really is, it's all business --- at least until late
hours keep Cheney and Kinsey working together and old embers start
Once Reba is convinced that her former boss has been using her ---
and cheating on her to boot --- she's ready to help trip him up.
Kinsey discovers that Reba has all the right instincts of a perfect
private investigator: guts, brains, energy, the ability to lie to
get what she wants, and motivation. In fact, she has Kinsey
cowering in several exciting scenes of breaking and entering, chase
and capture, which lead Kinsey into the line of fire. Reba would
make a perfect sidekick for Kinsey in future books, except for one
tiny thing --- she's a convicted felon.
Reba may be one of Grafton's more endearing creations. She has
blown life into a secondary character, which often takes a back
seat in a crime novel. But in R IS FOR RICOCHET, Reba outshines
Kinsey and you're pulling for her all the way. You can almost feel
Grafton's excitement when Reba comes on the scene.
Now if she could just jumpstart this novel with less meandering and
lackluster descriptions, from highway directions and dull wardrobes
to menus, R IS FOR RICOCHET would be right up there. Once it gets
going, though, it's a page-turner.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 23, 2011