Book: J is for Judgement | Author: Sue Grafton | Started: 4/30/14 | Finished: 5/2/14 | Rating: 5 stars
Synopsis: Wendell Jaffe looks great for a dead man! He’s been six feet under for five years– until his former insurance agent spots him at a dusty resort in Mexico. Now California Fidelity wants it’s insurance money back. Can P.I. Kinsey Millhone get on the case? Just two months earlier Jaffe’s widow pocketed $500,000 in insurance benefits after Jaffe went overboard. Was his “pseudoside” a last ditch effort to do right by his beloved wife? But how would that explain the new woman in Jaffe’s second life? Kinsey is in for the long haul as she delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Jaffe’s life and death… and discovers that in family matters as in crime, sometimes it’s better to reserve judgement.
My review: I knew from the beginning that this had a great story line and was hopeful that it would be a promising book. It was. From the beginning we are thinking a lot of things, for one, why did he fake his suicide? For two, what is now going to happen to his widows insurance money? And for three, is he going to get caught?
The only thing that doesn’t thrill me about these books is that there are always new characters and it can sometimes be hard to keep track of who is who and how they are related to the story. This one had a few characters, but it never got confusing. I wold suggest to other readers to write down character names and any information that they get about the characters while reading. It’s a lot less confusing. But like I said, J is for Judgement had a good amount of characters to make the story good, but not enough to where I was confused.
I’ll get back to the characters. First I want to talk about the story line. There were a few different ways that this book could have gone. Jaffe could have come back to California and apologized and made up with his family. Jaffe could have never gone back to California and his family never would have found out he was alive. Jaffe’s family could have been behind his “”death”” five years ago and this was all a big scheme to get money from the insurance company (okay, I admit, I was sorta hoping for this one.) We didn’t find out what was going on for most of the book which made it a quick read because I just had to know what was going on. I had tons of questions during the book and once they were answered, I felt like I had even more. The story went the best way that it could have; I wouldn’t have changed any of it.
When Kinsey wasn’t working on the case, her life was far from boring during this book. When she thinks she may have found someone that she is related, she has no idea what to do about it. Does she call them and say “Hi! I’m your long lost family member!” or does she ignore it and continue living her life in solitude. I couldn’t help but think this was purposely put into the same book where a long lost family member “rises from the dead.” When she wasn’t at work, we got to see a new Kinsey that we are not used to- a somewhat vulnerable Kinsey. I’m not sure if this story line will make it into future books, but I would like to see it extended in the later books.
As for the other characters, Henry was not much of a big character in this book. With Kinsey in Mexico trying to find Jaffe and all over different cities, she wasn’t at home all that often. Other than the regular characters, we met Jaffe, his new wife, his “widow”, and his sons. There were some minor characters thrown in as well, but they weren’t there often. I never got confused with the characters because each character was different. His widow was a bitter lady that refused to believe her husband was still alive. The new wife was quiet and compliant. She never wanted to upset Jaffe. The sons were world apart- one a troublemaker and another could only be described as sensitive and forgiving. Every character was important to this story and made the book better.
When there is a series that is going for 26 books, it is hard to not get repetitive with stories while also staying true to character. Kinsey isn’t one day going to pick up knitting or move into a mansion. There has to be a balance between repetition and consistency. Grafton does this with ease (or that’s how it looks to the readers.) Every book has a different plot but Kinsey is still the same Kinsey. She’s still breaking into places with her lock-picking tool, she’s still eating peanut butter-and-pickle sandwiches, and she’s still waking up at 6 am (HOW!?) to run three miles (almost) every morning. For the most part, Kinsey is the same Kinsey that I met in A is for Alibi and I’m sure she’ll be the same Kinsey in the last book of the series.
Kinsey Millhone was introduced in the 1980s and has been an important part in the mystery and crime genre for women authors and for women protagonists since then. I would recommend this book, and this series as a whole, to everyone.