As always - as she has done from "A" on - Sue Grafton has offered up yet another fantastic mystery in her popular line of "alphabet books."
In this newest adventure, Dr. Dowan Purcell has disappeared, and his ex-wife (not his current wife) calls Kinsey Millhone and begs her to take the case. Now, this Doctor is extremely high-up in the medical world of Santa Teresa, and Kinsey is absolutely sure that the police have done all they can already to locate the prominent man. He was a perfect human being too, as far as Kinsey can tell. Dr. Purcell was running a nursing care facility in town and the patients, staff...heck, even the cleaning crew, absolutely loved the guy. In addition, his second wife, Crystal, and their two-year-old son were spoiled rotten by the loving family man who truly doesn't seem to have any flaws whatsoever.
The doctor's ex, Fiona, seems to think differently than everyone else, however. She seems to be able to see below the surface of all her ex-husband's words and deeds, and wants Kinsey on the case right away. Kinsey doesn't really "take" well to Fiona, thinking that her uppity-talk and high expectations are simply unrealistic, considering that the police force has worked their behinds off to solve this disappeareance already; Kinsey doesn't believe that there was even the smallest rock left unturned in order to bring the Dr. home. She does take the case, though, but makes no promises that she'll be able to solve the strange disappearance.
What she does begin to uncover, however, is the fact that everyone who even had the slightest communication with Dr. Purcell seems to have a theory on where the man went. The cops believe something very small - that the medicine man had just had enough, went on a bender, and decided he was too embarassed to return home. Fiona, the ex, truly believes that the new wife is the problem, and that Crystal is simply a pain in the butt that he regretted marrying. Crystal, too, believes that her husband has died a tragic death, even though the nursing facility staff thinks that their "main man" has been kidnapped and that they'll soon get a horrible ransom demand from the men who took the doctor away. Add in a daughter who tells Kinsey that her psychic thinks that her father is sitting in a dark, haunted place waiting to die, and you have a cast of characters and storylines that make even Kinsey Millhone so confused that she has no idea where to turn.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Sue Grafton has, once again, delivered a solid mystery that will keep the reader guessing to the final chapter. The characters are unforgettable, the answers to the mystery are many, and, literally, Grafton's fans will put this down and beg for "Q" to be released. I still wonder what she's going to do when "Z" is written and over with. Hopefully, she'll move on to Alpha and go from there.
Until Next Time,
Dr. Dowan Purcell had been missing for nine weeks when Kinsey got a call asking her to take on the case. A specialist in geriatric medicine, Purcell was a prominent member of the Santa Theresa medical community, and the police had done a thorough job. Purcell had no known enemies and seemed content with his life. At the time of his disappearance, he was running a nursing care facility where both the staff and the patients loved him. He adored his second wife, Crystal, and doted on their two-year-old son.
It wasn't Crystal who called Kinsey. It was Purcell's ex-wife, Fiona. Everything about their meeting made Kinsey uneasy. Fiona's manner was high-handed and her expectations unrealistic. Kinsey's instincts told her to refuse the job, yet she ended up saying, "I'll do what I can, but I make no promises."
It was a decision she'd live to regret.
Pursuing the mysterious disappearance of Purcell, Kinsey crashes into a wall of speculation. It seems everyone has a theory. The cops think he went on a bender and is too ashamed to come home. Fiona is sure he ran off to get away from Crystal, and Crystal is just as sure he's dead. The staff at the nursing home is convinced he's been kidnapped, and one of his daughters, having consulted a psychic, is certain that he's trapped in a dark place, though she doesn't know where. Kinsey is awash in explanations and sorely lacking in facts. Then pure chance leads her in another direction, and she soon finds herself in a dangerous shadow land, where duplicity and double-dealing are the reality and, with the truth glinting elusively out of reach, she must stake her life on a thin thread of intuition.
P Is for Peril: Kinsey Millhone's latest venture into the darker side of the human soul