J is for Judgement by Sue Grafton

J is for Judgement by Sue Grafton

13th September 2023.

In the tenth outing for PI Kinsey Millhone, she’s faced with two challenges. The first involves an insurance fraud involving Wendell Jaffe, who was declared dead after going missing from his boat out in the ocean. Five years ago, his wife received a substantial payout on his life insurance.

When he’s spotted in Mexico, Kinsey’s despatched to confirm the sighting. This she does, but he escapes before she can confront the man. His son, Brian, has escaped from jail in Santa Teresa, and Wendell is believed to be heading there.

Back on home soil, Kinsey continues her investigation. She interviews a couple who seem to shed light on a family she never knew she had. Her parents died in a car crash when she was five. The idea that there’s a branch of the family that have never made contact with her is unsettling.

Like all the previous novels, Kinsey is her usual feisty, wise cracking self, with a good line in social commentary to complement her dogged investigative skills. Only this time, her backstory adds a personal element to the series that promises to pose as many challenges as the cases she investigates in the future.

The characters are sharply drawn, especially those closest to Kinsey. The settings are painted in great detail and the investigation has all the twists and turns you could hope for. Kinsey is a flawed but determined character, but this new development promises much in future novels.

While I originally read the series as it was published 30 years ago, the stories and characters have lost none of their magic and if anything, are more enjoyable this time around.

If you love private investigators, this is a series you should not miss.


On the face of it, you wouldn’t think there was any connection between the murder of a dead man and the events that changed my perceptions about my life…

For Kinsey Millhone, the investigation started with a surprise visit from an ex-colleague at California Fidelity – the company that had fired her nine months previously.

Five hours later she was on a plane to Mexico, hot on the trial of a suicide who’d allegedly just come back to life. After a five year wait, Wendell Jaffe’s widow had finally succeeded in having the real estate swindler declared dead, collecting half a million dollars for her pains. Now it looks like a ‘pseudocide’ – and Kinsey’s ready to risk everything to get to the truth . . .

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