Wednesday, February 1, 2012

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

V is for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone #22) is really three stories tied together by circumstances that are beyond anyone’s control.

The year is 1988 and Kinsey is turning 38 years old. She’s a private investigator who works in fictional small town of Santa Teresa, California. After spending 2 years as a police officer, she’s found her calling as a private investigator. She’s also been married several times which have both ended in bad ways.

Kinsey really hasn't changed all that much since we first met her. She wears the same old batter jeans and turtlenecks, and eats at Rosie’s even though she can’t stand the food she is being served. She cuts her own hair, and it actually wouldn't hurt her to have a make-over just once to make her better about herself.

She still has her all-purpose black dress that doesn't wrinkle or need to be washed and it doesn't show any dirt. She lives in an apartment over her garage that her octogenarian friend and neighbor Henry set up for her. She barely has any food in her cupboards to feed herself properly, yet finds a way to jog a few miles a day when she's feeling up to it and isn't bogged down by a case.

While shopping at Nordstrom’s for some much needed new and reduced under clothes, Kinsey notices a woman shoplifting. She also catches yet another female shopper doing the exact same thing. One thing leads to another, and the shoplifter is found dead at the bottom of a ravine while the younger woman escapes.

Kinsey ends up being hired by the woman’s fiancé to look into her death as well as being stalked by reporter Diana Alvarez who is looking for a story about suicides. Later, Kinsey is treated with scorn by the woman’s fiancé, and also threatened by a dirty cop to stop her from continuing her investigation. But, those of us who've read this series from the start acknowledge that Kinsey doesn't give up so easily and she often ends up in harm’s way.

The second character is Lorenzo Dante. Dante is a loan shark, and a financier of ill repute who is being investigated by all branches of law enforcement. Dante’s own brother has a temper on him, which has led to fingers being pointed at Dante instead of where they should be.

As the story opens, we see Dante in his true element loaning money to a society brat who doesn't know enough to quit gambling after losing his shirt. Instead, he gets in over his head, and ends up dead after a so-called miscommunication.

Dante also has some serious family issues starting with his father, and ending with his younger brother who has been in and out of jail and is also a killer and who may be on the take by a dirty and corrupt cop.

The third character is Nora Vogelsang whose first husband died at a young age, and her only son was believed to have committed suicide. Nora finds out that her husband, the cheating louse of an asshat, has been cheating on her with his typist and plans her own sort of revenge.

Surprisingly, Nora makes some interesting choices along the way, including a not so shocking flight with someone other than her husband out of the country.

This was one of the more interesting stories in the series and a step up from U is for Undertow. We get a better understanding of how far Kinsey will go to get to the truth as well as helping a friend who gave her her first lock and pick set.

I find myself chuckling at times because this series is set in the 1980’s where I came of age, and also ended up in the military (1980-1984) as well as graduated from college believe it or not in 1988 the same year as this story. The cult references to music and fashion are right on the money as far as I remember.

Dante is not all that bad of a person when you get right down to it. He is fiercely loyal to his employees, and loves his dying uncle like he was his own father. His brother is really awful and his ending was justified and after learning a shocking revelation about his own mother, I felt really bad for Dante that he didn’t find out sooner.

Nora ends up in a bad situation with her husband’s infidelity for which millions of women can feel her pain and suffering. She truly is a depressing character at times, but head strong when it comes down to making difficult choices and leaving the louse behind. You can pretty much guess what happens in the end of the story once Dante and Nora meet and she finds out the truth behind her son’s death.

I’ve often wondered if people were really stupid and I mean this with Kinsey’s continued torture at Rosie’s Hungarian recipes she comes up with off the top of her head. She also continually complains about the bad wine. So, why continue eating there? For me, I once got sick on Veal Parmigiana. 30 years later, I haven’t touched veal, nor do I have any inclination of doing so anytime soon.

Title: V is for Vengeance
Author: Sue Grafton
Release Date: November 14, 2011
Genres: Mystery

1 comment:

  1. I was always intrigued by the idea of this series, but the sheer volume of, well, volumes seemed so intimidating. So, a thorough review helps!