In Santa Teresa, it is still 1987. Slowly but surely, the Kinsey Millhone novels are becoming historical mysteries. Kinsey has no internet access, no chance of DNA identification, and no cell phone--and a cell phone would have come in handy in this volume, which sees Kinsey tackling a very cold case: the disappearance of Violet Sullivan on the Fourth of July in 1953, with her purebred Pomeranian and her brand new Chevrolet. She left behind an abusive husband and a seven-year-old daughter; it is the daughter who, 34 years later, is referred to Kinsey by a friend.
In this book Sue Grafton departs from the usual formula of having the whole novel narrated by Kinsey, as if it were the detective's final report on the case, respectfully submitted to the client. Interspersed with Kinsey's search for people who might know something are flashback chapters to 1953, told in third person narration and presenting events that the detective three decades later may or may not find out; so for the first time in the series, the reader knows more than Kinsey. It's an interesting departure, and it works pretty well.
Originally posted at MySpace on 12/22/05.