cover image W Is for Wasted

W Is for Wasted

Sue Grafton, read by Judy Kaye. Random House Audio, unabridged, 14 CDs, 17.25 hrs., $45 ISBN 978-0-307-70431-3

Narrator Judy Kaye continues to bring to life one of crime fiction’s most enduring and endearing private eyes, Kinsey Millhone. It’s 1988 and the Santa Teresa, Calif., investigator finds herself involved in two seemingly unrelated deaths: that of a sleazy fellow private eye who was shot to death, and that of a homeless man found dead of a probable heart attack. The latter had Millhone’s name and phone number on a slip of paper in his pocket. The two cases form the foundation for a mystery that grows to involve blackmail, $600,000, and some long-buried family issues from Kinsey’s own past. This is Kaye’s 23rd outing as narrator of Grafton’s alphabetically titled novels, and she proves that she knows Millhone better than anyone. With a clear, confident reading, she easily navigates the book’s first-person narration, guiding the listener through all the intricate plot twists that one has come to expect from Grafton. Millhone perfectly captures Kinsey’s voice and attitude, whether she’s delivering a sharp quip or some wry observation on life. Her characterization is solid, straightforward, and never slips into the “mean streets” private eye clichés. This is a fine collaboration between two excellent storytellers. A Marian Wood/Putnam hardcover. (Sept.)