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T is for Trespass

Review

T is for Trespass

Solana Rojas is one of the darkest and most dangerous
sociopaths Kinsey Millhone has ever encountered.

Kinsey’s next-door neighbor, Gus, is a 90-year-old crank who
can be counted on to call the authorities on code violations or
shake his fist at skateboarding kids. He has been conspicuously
quiet for the past two days. Then one morning, as Kinsey is leaving
for her office as an insurance investigator, she and her landlord
Henry hear a wail coming from Gus’s house. They find him
crumpled in a corner with a badly dislocated shoulder and cracked
ribs from a fall in the shower. Once they call an ambulance and get
him to the ER, they discover that his only living relative is a
niece who lives in New York. Due to the nature of his injury, he is
released to a nursing home, which Gus will have none of. He is
fully mentally competent and soon will be able to care for himself,
but he needs someone to look in on him on a daily basis for several
months.

Neither Henry nor Kinsey is able to give the level of home care
needed to keep him in his cozy little house. Kinsey urges the niece
to come straighten things out; she is concerned but cannot give up
a lucrative career in New York to care for her ailing uncle.

The response to an ad she runs produces only a few unpromising
prospects, none of whom seem anxious to care for the crotchety old
man. Then Solana Rojas shows up and, unlike the previous
applicants, appears highly qualified, puts up with his temper and
eagerly takes the job starting immediately. The niece, relieved to
have someone take over so she can get back to New York, leaves her
uncle in Solana’s hands and hires Kinsey to do a brief
background check. Kinsey finds her resume and letters of
recommendation in order, even interviewing two prior employers by
phone, and gives a positive report.

Solana is an expert at creating false identifications. Her elderly
patients are frequently mentally incompetent or died under her
care. Their relatives, if they have any, are never suspicious when
their elderly loved one passes away, and some patients, grateful
for Solana’s apparently tender loving care, have even left
something in their wills.

With financial resources from her last scam dwindling, Gus is the
perfect target. Solana can assume the identity of a fellow employee
who she learns is leaving the state to go back to school. Through a
carefully concocted personal identity theft scheme, Solana turns
her credentials as a nurse’s aide into those of a registered
nurse. She practices using cosmetics, a dye job and a hairstyle
change to resemble her co-worker. She lifts her driver's license
from the restroom, and the transformation is complete with little
risk of discovery. Now her prey is in easy striking distance, and a
mentally competent but physically helpless old man with no near
relatives to check on him is ripe for the picking.

As silent and lethal as undetectable poison, Solana begins to set
the stage for the solitary Gus’s demise. Through lies,
deception, deliberately confusing times of day and drugging his
food, he soon appears to have dementia and memory loss to friends
who visit. His distant niece who trusts Solana enables her to take
more responsibility with his day-to-day needs.

Kinsey begins to suspect that something is wrong when Gus’s
personality changes and starts to look for evidence of wrongdoing.
Solana’s sociopathic behavior and paranoia soon turn on
Kinsey, and she finds herself the object of Solana’s
abuse.

As current as today’s headlines, Sue Grafton tackles the
problems of identity theft and elder abuse in an exciting new novel
--- the 20th in her legendary alphabet series.T IS FOR TRESPASS is
more than a good mystery; it is an alert to the dangers that await
us all if we are not aware of how easy it is for an unscrupulous
person to insinuate themselves into a family member’s
life.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on June 2, 2011

T is for Trespass
by Sue Grafton

  • Publication Date: December 4, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: A Marian Wood Book/Putnam
  • ISBN-10: 0399154485
  • ISBN-13: 9780399154485