I wasn't sure when I began this book whether I'd like it or not. But it drew me in, and was quite engaging by the end. This is, of course, the 22nd in the series of Alphabet Mysteries featuring Kinsey Millhone, private investigator.
Basically, Kinsey is looking for discounted underwear in an somewhat up-scale store and sees a woman shoplift several items. She had seen the woman earlier with another woman and thought the second one was a clerk. But eventually, she figured out that they were in cahoots. She rats out the woman she saw, and the shop lifter got nabbed. Kinsey tried to track down the accomplice and was almost run down for her efforts. Well, the first woman ended up having jumped or been thrown off a local bridge. The woman's fiancé comes to Kinsey to ask her to look into things. He thinks she couldn't possible be a shop lifter.
Well, Kinsey gets enmeshed in an investigation involving organized crime working in fencing "lifted" goods and also a bit of loan sharking on the side. We have weird coincidental interactions between seemingly unrelated people, a corrupt cop who threatens Kinsey, a career burglar who is sort of a pal of Kinsey's, and, naturally, a bit of Kinsey's life with the Hungarian cook, the cook's elderly spouse and the spouse's brother, the latter of whom is Kinsey's land lord. Anyway, it's an engaging tale.
I've read quite a number of these books previously. Running a series with the same character over a period of 35 years comes with problems I'd not noticed before. Kinsey is a spunky, 35-year old woman. She stays a spunky, 35-year old woman (ok, she turned 38 in this book). When Kinsey first came out, she was hip and modern and so forth. But here 35 years later, I feel like I'm reading a period piece. Kinsey was contemporary when she first burst on the scene, but she can't be now. If she were, she'd be 70! She'd have become Miss Marple, and that wouldn' work in the noir-ish genre Grafton effects to follow.