Customer Review

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kinsey shines, but other characters fall flat, September 7, 2000
This review is from: J Is for Judgment (Paperback)
"J is for Judgment," Sue Grafton's 10th Kinsey Millhone mystery, left me with a bit of what I call the cotton candy syndrome. I started with "A is for Alibi" less than a year ago, and the relative proximity in time between my reading each of the others through "J" has given me a panoramic perspective over them. I have enjoyed Grafton's series more than any other, largely because of the edgy heroine, but I found this installment to be one of the weaker links in an otherwise outstanding series.
I found the first quarter of the book to be highly promising. Kinsey is hired to identify a man spotted in Mexico who may be Wendell Jaffe, recently proclaimed dead years after an apparent boating accident where the body was never found. This section of the book contains one of the funniest moments I've encountered in the series, showing Kinsey as she's never been before.
As Kinsey returns to Santa Teresa for the last three quarters of the book, she encounters the people in Jaffe's life--most of whom are excrutiatingly boring. The primary mystery question posed at the beginning is solved fairy early on, leaving not much left to answer and Jaffe's sniveling family to play out their soap opera.
There is a side story that I found much more interesting than the main plot in the second half. We find out something crucial about Kinsey's mysterious family background. Readers of other books in the series are reminded each book that Kinsey's folks died when she was very young leaving her to be raised by a maiden aunt. In "J is for Judgment," Grafton gives us a deeper look into the tragedy of Kinsey's early years.
For that, if nothing else, I recommend this book to anyone who is a Sue Grafton fan (or more specifically, of Kinsey). However, starting with "J" would be a mistake and would misrepresent that which Grafton is capable of writing--smooth plotting with side characters that make all the difference. "J" was a worthwhile read in the moment, but like cotton candy, I soon felt empty and unfulfilled afterwards.
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