M Is for Malice

Sue Grafton, Author Henry Holt & Company $27 (300p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3637-4
Approaching middle age warily, PI Kinsey Millhone of the Southern California coast is mildly depressed, romantically vulnerable and in the process of reassessing her family ties. Yet, when it comes to her professional abilities, she's at the top of her form, as this deftly plotted and absorbing novel (her 13th appearance, after L Is for Lawless) proves. Bader Malek, a local industrial tycoon, has died, and his four sons now stand to inherit a substantial fortune. But one of them, Guy, has been missing since 1968. A drug addict, ne'er-do-well and all-around miscreant, Guy had been disinherited by his exasperated father shortly before he vanished. But that particular will has disappeared, and Kinsey has been hired by the family to find out if Guy is still alive and thus in line to collect his original portion of the estate. She quickly succeeds in locating him and brings back a sweet, guileless and totally reformed man. But is he? The three other brothers--a truly devious, arrogant and greedy lot--are deeply ambivalent about Guy's return. A murder in the family leaves the surviving Malek kin as prime suspects. This is a subtle and swiftly moving novel, pleasantly unpredictable, with an agreeable overlay of smoldering romance, as fellow PI and former lover Robert Dietz reenters Kinsey's life. Grafton's heroine--more introspective, yet still feisty and surefooted--leads this finely tuned and at times electrifying tale to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. 1,000,000 first printing. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/18/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
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