Library Journal Review
PI Kinsey Millhone may be running scared from serial killer Ned Lowe, who nearly strangled her in the previous volume (X) of this alphabet mystery series, but fear won't stop her from searching for a potential blackmailer. Fritz McCabe was only 15 in 1979 when he killed a classmate from Climping Academy in Santa Teresa, CA. Fast-forward to 1989, and he is released from prison. But someone wants money to hide a sex tape that reveals Fritz and a friend assaulting a young teen. Kinsey juggles her search for the extortionist with pursuing leads about the whereabouts of the menacing Ned Lowe, who intends to add Kinsey to his string of kills. The series may be coming to a close, but Grafton (W Is for Wasted) constructs an intricate plot following two time lines with at least a dozen characters in play while rarely slowing the pace. Kinsey's fans may have to take notes to keep up with her as she untangles a web of lies and cover stories to solve the current blackmail case as well as the older murder. Verdict Readers of Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski or Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum may enjoy this California sleuthing sister. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/17.]-Wendy W. Paige, Shelby Cty. P.L., Morristown, IN © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Bestseller Grafton's gripping 25th novel featuring Santa Teresa, Calif., PI Kinsey Millhone (after 2015's X) opens with a theft. In January 1979, misfit Iris Lehmann steals a test to help her best friend, Poppy Earl, a fellow student at an elite private high school in Santa Teresa. Iris's impulsive act sets off a cheating scandal focused on Poppy and her boyfriend, Troy Rademaker. This leads to 15-year-old Fritz McCabe fatally shooting Sloan Stevens, who supposedly ratted on the two cheaters. In 1989, as required by law, the California Youth Authority releases Fritz, who's free to carry on with his life-but now someone is demanding $25,000 from his parents to suppress a videotape showing Fritz and Troy sexually abusing a drunken Iris back in 1979. Fritz's mother hires Kinsey to investigate the amateurish blackmail scheme, which puts her on the trail of a host of suspects and secrets in Santa Teresa's wealthiest enclaves. Meanwhile, Kinsey's nemesis from the previous book, mass murderer Ned Lowe, is still on the loose and has a score to settle with her. Grafton once again proves herself a superb storyteller. Author tour. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* This next-to-last in Grafton's alphabet series starts in 1979, when 14-year-old Iris Lehmann, a freshman at the private school where her father teaches, steals test answers to help popular junior Poppy Earl, who has befriended her, and Poppy's boyfriend, Troy Rademaker. Someone snitches about the theft, and accused snitcher Sloan Stevens is widely snubbed until a disturbing amateur sex tape falls into her hands. Then things get out of hand at an end-of-the-school-year party rife with alcohol and dope, and Sloan is shot and killed by 15-year-old Fritz McCabe. Ten years later, just after Fritz is released from juvenile detention, his parents are blackmailed by the threatened release of the tape, in which Fritz and Troy assault drunk, doped, and underage Iris, an incident all the participants label a lark. Hired to find the extortionist, Kinsey Millhone digs into decade-old events, at the same time contending with the reappearance of serial killer Ned Lowe, a lethal threat to her and to his two ex-wives. Kinsey's appealing recurring cast is supplemented by homeless Pearl, Lucky, and Lucky's big-but-gentle dog, Killer. Kinsey is persistent with cases, compassionate toward parents who lose children, and human enough to be jealous when her cousin, Anna, is romancing one of her exes. This will leave readers both relishing another masterful entry and ruing the near-end of this series. Prime Grafton. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Even if you hadn't watched every episode of, say, M*A*S*H, you were there for the finale. Same with Grafton.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2017 Booklist