July 20, 2017

“J” Is For Judgment by Sue Grafton

Synopsis:
"J" is for Jaffe: Wendell Jaffe, dead these past five years. Or so it seemed until his former insurance agent spotted him in the bar of a dusty little resort halfway between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz.
Five years ago, when Jaffe's thirty-five-foot Fuji ketch was found drifting off the Baja coast, it seemed a sure thing he'd gone overboard. The note he left behind admitted he was flat broke, his business bankrupt, his real estate gambit nothing but a huge Ponzi scheme about to collapse, with criminal indictment certain to follow. When the authorities soon after descended on his banks and his books, there was nothing left: Jaffe had stripped the lot.
But Jaffe wasn't quite without assets. There was the $500,000 life insurance policy made out to his wife and underwritten by California Fidelity. With no corpse to prove death, however, the insurance company was in no hurry to pay the claim. Dana Jaffe had to wait out the statutory five years until her missing husband could be declared legally dead. Just two months before Wendell Jaffe was sighted in that dusty resort bar, California Fidelity finally paid in full. Now they wanted the truth. And they were willing to hire Kinsey Millhone to dig it up.
As Kinsey pushes deeper into the mystery surrounding Wendell Jaffe's pseudocide, she explores her own past, discovering that in family matters as in crime, sometimes it's better to reserve judgment.
"J" is for judgment: the kind we're quick to make and often quicker to regret.
"J" Is for Judgment: Kinsey Millhone's tenth excursion into the dark places of the heart where duplicity is the governing rule and murder the too-frequent result.
J Is For Judgment takes us on an interesting journey with Kinsey. From traveling to Mexico, pretending to be a hooker, getting shot at, and swimming out to sea, there definitely wasn’t any down time for our favorite Private Investigator.

We also got a little peek into the history of Kinsey’s family and actually met some of her family members. We didn’t think there were any of them. She has always been used to being alone, not suddenly she has a lot of family pretty close by. I hope the next book explores her family a bit more, but I also kind of hope that they don’t become super prominent characters. Kinsey has always worked better on her own, and I think it should stay that way. For now, if anything. Having family nearby adds for an interesting wrinkle in the story, though, and I do think it should be explored.

As for her investigator storyline, this one was a bit different because she wasn’t trying to figure out who was guilty for most of the book, she was just trying to prove that someone was alive. Once she gets further into her investigation, we meet one really interesting but messed up family.

The family in this one certainly made for an interesting plot, but they were almost less “exciting” that characters in some of the other books. By less exciting, I mean they didn’t really do a whole lot.

The way this one ended, it makes me wonder if Renata will show up again in another book or not. I’m not sure there would be much of a need for her to, but I am curious about it.

Overall, another solid Kinsey story. There was a lot of action in this one. I think I want one with her interacting more with the people she knows and loves in the next one – maybe even a romance. You never know what Kinsey is going to get into.

4/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: “The hard thing about death is that nothing ever changes. The hard thing about life is that nothing stays the same.”

“I pictured myself impales on an ornamental shrub. Not a pretty sight, that one – a hard-assed private eye, punctures by a sticker bush.”

“If I didn’t work on behalf of law enforcement, I’d be in jail, I’m sure.”

“I’ve never once downed a hit of NyQuil without shuddering violently afterward. Nonetheless, I’m aware that I harbor all the incipient characteristics of an over-the-counter cold medicine addict.”

“I perched on a bar stool, munching junk food while I sorted through the mail I’d stolen. It’s hard to give up chronic thievery when my crimes net me such a bonanza of information.”

“Please understand: I don’t have the answers. I’m simply posing the questions. God knows I have questions about my own life to answer yet.”


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