M is for Malice is the thirteenth installment in Sue Grafton's popular Alphabet Series based on the adventures of a quirky private investigator. Kinsey Millhone is the no-nonsense gal we first met in A is for Alibi. She's now in her mid-30's, still driving the VW bug and living in a converted garage apartment in Santa Teresa, California.
Kinsey's latest case involves the location of a missing person. Guy Malek left his wealthy family in disgrace eighteen years ago and hasn't been heard from since. His three brothers want desperately to find him, but not out of love. The Malek patriarch died recently, and the three sons need to reach their brother so they can access their inheritance.
Bader Malek allegedly rewrote his first will to disinherit Guy, the bad seed of the family. Now, that supposed second will is missing. Neither parent is alive to prove it exists, so the first will stands. Unless someone contests, Guy stand to inherit ¼ of the Malek riches.
Kinsey has little trouble finding Guy. He's living in poverty, as a devout Christian and church handyman. It's a far cry from his family's wealth. Guy has no interest in an inheritance. He's concerned with trying to make amends for his criminal teenage years. Unfortunately, the other Malek brothers are self-absorbed and venemous. They have no personal interest in their brother, other than preventing him from inheriting the money.
Guy opts to return home to his brothers and try to heal past wounds. Kinsey advises Guy to contact a lawyer before meeting with his siblings, but he refuses. There's not much else she can do. Kinsey has found her missing person and billed the client. Case closedor is it?
M is for Malice details Kinsey's involvement in the events surrounding the Balek family. Despite their wealth and successful construction company, they have their share of secrets. Before the case is put to rest, Kinsey will encounter forgery, theft, stupidity and ultimately murder.
I've read most of Grafton's books, and this isn't one of my favorites. Kinsey is the ever-cranky, no b.s. gal we've all grown to love. However, her thirteenth case is not up to par.
The pacing seems off. The author provides decent suspicion at the beginning, but the murder and the more interesting theft arrive late in the story. Also included is a little side booty between Kinsey and ex-beau Robert Dietz. Unfortunately, the relationship adds little flame to the fire or the plot.
Truth be told, the characters aren't too great, either. Guy is nice enough, but we don't get to learn too much about him and the way he changes. The Malek brothers are supposed to be the villains, but they didn't evoke much anger from me. I couldn't muster the energy to despise their beings.
The best part of the book, an 18 year-old family secret is revealed in the climax. Frankly, it would have been better developed earlier as a bigger part of the plot. Maybe then I would have reacted differently. As is stands, when the guilty party and the motive were revealed, my mental comment was "Oh."
I hate to dump on Sue Grafton. She really is one of my favorite authors and I really enjoy her work. However, you can't please everybody all the time. I guess it's my turn to be indifferent.
I am still going to recommend M is for Malice, though. Grafton kindly provides background on past events so it's possible to read the episodes out of order without feeling lost. Kinsey is such a fun character. You simply can't miss a single installment. If you're in the mood for mystery, this trusty private investigator is your gal.