With a little money in the bank and no real cases on the docket, Kinsey is looking forward to a little vacation from her private investigation firm. Vacation plans are scrapped when a stranger comes calling. He has some of Kinsey's old possessions, bought from a delinquent account on a storage locker. The name on the bill is Mickey Magruder, aka Kinsey's long lost ex-husband.
Fourteen years earlier, Kinsey walked out on her man when he was implicated in a fatal beating. A note among the old belongings suggests Mickey may not be guilty of the murder, as Kinsey assumed. Had she been wrong all this time?
Before she can get some answers, Kinsey's investigation hits the skids. Two Los Angeles detectives arrive at her door to announce that Mickey's in a coma. The bullet pulled out of his head matches a gun registered to Kinsey, one which she hasn't seen since she left her husband.
O is for Outlaw details our favorite investigator's search for answers. She feels a case of the guilts for assuming her husband had killed a man. As a payback to Mickey, she vows to get to the bottom of his shooting, while trying to figure out her own role in the crime as well.
Kinsey's search takes her back fourteen years to the tavern she once frequented with her husband. Both were on the police force back then. She reunites with old friends ad their grown kids, all of whom are potential suspects in Mickey's shooting.
A is for Alibi introduced the thirty-two year-old leading lady back in 1982. In this installment, Kinsey is now thirty-six. Author Sue Grafton makes an important point that readers need to remember the year in which the novel is set. There are many references to the Vietnam War. When the characters reflect on their past, they are looking back only fourteen years.
In a forward at the beginning of this novel Grafton defends her series timeline, stating that "Ms. Millhone is stuck in a time warp without access to cell phones, the Internet, or other high tech equipment used by modern-day private investigators. She relies instead on persistence, imagination, and ingenuity: the stock-in-trade of the traditional gumshoe throughout hard-boiled history."
O is for Outlaw gives readers a glimpse into Kinsey's elusive past. She reflects on her first marriage and old acquaintances. There are plenty of quirky new characters she meets along the way in this installment as well.
This investigation takes Ms. Millhone to Los Angeles and Louisville in search of answers. The majority of the story takes place in good old Santa Teresa.
The sequence of events and level of suspense are about par for a Grafton novel. This is an easy and relatively fun mystery to read. The final showdown is a bit gory and excessive, though an argument can be made for justice being served.
The Kinsey Millhone series is highly recommended. It's not necessary to read the installments in order, as long as you read them all. Book for book, Grafton produces works that are amusing and exciting, ideal for readers who want to be entertained.