"Another success for Grafton, May 8, 2005"
Reviewer: Carolyn Rowe Hill, author: "so far, R is for Ricochet is my favorite. I see the point another reviewer made about entitling the book R is for Reba as this character is definitely the lead in this story, which at times I found disconcerting. However, I grew to like Reba, so it turned out to be OK by me. While the book is not riveting (I could easily set it down and return to it later), I found it comfortable to read in parcels and finished it in a few days (which gave me time to absorb many of its details). Whatever else is going on, it's always interesting to see what's up with landlord Henry Pitts, his brother William and wife Rosie the Hungarian, and this time with Michigan brother, Lewis, who arrives for an unscheduled visit.
It does seem to me Grafton has increased her descriptive narrative as she proceeds through the alphabet. Perhaps this has become convenient filler. She has been roundly criticized for this practice, but if the reader absorbs the descriptions, he/she learns much about the places Detective Kinsey Millhone has been and how precisely she takes in the scene around her (makes for a good detective). I do think one can only describe bars so many times before the descriptions become grudgingly repetitious, and counting down the digital readout on an elevator door panel (twice) is carrying things a bit far, "...4 to 3 to 2 to 1." I was also surprised at how easily Kinsey allowed Reba to manipulate her... as in the shopping spree. If she didn't want Reba in the changing room with her, I would've expected her to just say NO.
Having said all this, I found the book an enjoyable read and continue to be impressed with Grafton's way with words. Her description of the July heat as being "thick as sour milk" and smelling like "feedlots" made me feel the unpleasantness of the day even as we experience an unusually long, snowy, cold winter in Michigan. She follows this sentence with a description of her T-shirt sticking to her back and the "sheen of moisture" on her face, "...the sort of clamminess that wakes you from a dead sleep when you've just come down with the flu." Yuck!
I intend to eventually read all Grafton's alphabet novels and to learn from her as an author." Carolyn Rowe Hill
R IS FOR RICOCHET by Sue Grafton IMHO another solid entry in this series. While you are seldom surprised with Santa Teresa P.I. Kinsey Milhone, you are also rarely disappointed. This is the story of triangles. The most prominent involves parolee embezzler Reba Llafferty. Kinsey is hired by Rebas wealthy father to help her get back into society safely. The second element of this triangle is Alan Beckwith, Rebas former employer from whom she embezzled money and with whom she is continuing to have an affair. Beckwith is also simultaneously having his wife with Rebas best friend who took her place in more ways than one when Reba went to jail. The FBI wants Reba to help them get the goods on Beckwiths money laundering operations and push Kinsey to gain her cooperation. Woven into the big story is a lesser triangle involving Kinseys elderly landlord Henry, his brother, and a vivacious widow who apparently is attracted to both. While this sub-plot doesnt add to the overall mystery it is the kind of touch that keeps me working my way through the alphabet and looking forward to each new Kinsey Milhone outing.
It's much better than "Q is for Quarry"
Overall, this is a decent series but its starting to lag for me. I like Kinsey but while reading this book about Kinseys latest job of picking up a convicted felon released from prison on parole fell short of the mark for me. I felt Kinseys tenacious skills as a private investigator were wasted with this babysitting job. The few interactions Kinsey has in the book with Henry left me unsettled as well. With a long-running series, there needs to be definitive character development and growth. As we near closer to the end of the alphabet, it doesnt feel like theres much growth.
There wasnt a lot of mystery with this story but I am hoping that will change with the next book. There is potential in R for a new relationship for Kinsey and I think its time. Lets face itHenry isnt going to live forever and when that time comes, Kinsey is going to need people around her to help her pick up the pieces and cope. I get that in Kinseys line of work, being a loner is part of the job, but I would enjoy seeing Kinseys circle of friends increase beyond Rosie and the gang. I would enjoy seeing Kinsey finally settle down and start a family!
For the record, I did like Reba Lafferty more than I thought I would. I was expecting her to be a nasty piece of work, but she surprised me several times in the story. Even when she screws up and slides backwards, you dont get the sense shes a bad person, just a messed up girl who gets mixed up with the wrong people and makes bad choices.
I will see this series through to the end since Ive come this far. I really like Kinsey and want to find out what happens next but Im not champing at the bit.
A complex and clever money-laundering scheme is just a cover for a novel that is all about love: love gone wrong, love betrayed, love denied. Private eye Kinsey Milhone is the protaganist in Sue Grafton's alphabet series, beginning with A.