Bestseller Grafton offers more of the same-old same-old in her less-than-inspired 18th Kinsey Millhone novel (after 2002's P Is for Peril
). In this sexy adventure, the spunky hard-boiled detective has to escort the newly paroled Reba Lafferty, privileged ne'er-do-well, to her stately home, keeping her on the straight and narrow. Reba challenges the PI with her barely concealed hankerings for the now off-limits booze, gambling and charming Alan Beckwith, married real estate developer and former employer for whom Reba took a two-year barbwire vacation courtesy of the California Institution for Women. Lust is in the air as studly, stylish cop Cheney Phillips enters in his red Mercedes, fanning the flames with Kinsey, when Beckwith's activities catch the eye of the feds. Kinsey lends a supportive ear to her beloved 87-year-old landlord, smitten by a 70-year-old neighbor. Kinsey and Reba team up to get the goods on Beckwith, but reckless Reba has vengeful ideas of her own and more than once lands their collective fat in the fire. If the chemistry between Cheney and Kinsey seems forced at times, Grafton as usual creates believable and enduring characters and a strong sense of place in her town of Santa Teresa circa 1987. And that should be more than enough for most fans. Agent, Molly Friedrich at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency. (July 13)
A decline in quality in this iconic series hardly matters. A national author tour will help fuel another bestseller. BOMC Main Selection, main selection of Doubleday Book Club, Literary Guild and Mystery Guild.