Rocklin, CA, United States | Member Since 2004
No need for a plot summary here -- those of us who love Kinsey really don't care about the specifics of what she's gotten herself mixed up in this time. We'll go along for the ride, whatever it is. Suffice it to say that in this 23rd installment, Sue Grafton found yet another unique story line, plowed untilled storylines once again, and turned out a ridiculously good book.
I just finished listening, still wiping away tears from one of the finest eulogies I've ever heard, this one honoring a man of courage and intelligence, but one who also happened to be homeless, one of those rascally urban dwellers must of us would prefer not to see at all. Many of the main characters in this book were homeless -- some of them obnoxious, some physically or mentally ill, others just down on their luck. What made Grafton's tale unique is the respect she showed them all -- not pious or groveling, not pity, not laden with "it wasn't their fault" excuses, but rather with the simple acknowledgement that they exist, they live among us, that they are, in many ways, no different from the rest of us, and are therefore deserving of respect.
I greatly appreciated that straightforward treatment. A lesser writer would have turned this plot into a screed against these undesirables for weakness in succumbing to their various addictions, or alternatively into a diatribe against "the rich" who allegedly bear responsibility for the situation. Grafton did neither. She just told a story, without having Kinsey render up any judgments at all, let alone claiming to understand any of their personal situations, and certainly not offering any solution to the whole issue of the "homeless", whatever it might be. In fact, when one character launches into a divisive rant, Kinsey stops him immediately. "Please, keep politics out of this." Very smart -- it kept the book fresh and interesting.
All that said, "W" is not a heavy book -- in fact, it's a delight to see Kinsey doing something few of us ever thought she'd ever do. Kinsey -- not a warm and cuddly person, by any standard -- falls in love with a cat. And not just Kinsey, either, but Henry also cozies up to the formerly-homeless feline. Fun to see character growth like that -- Kinsey, ready to put her life on the line for an animal? Amazing.
Another fun thing was that a goodly part of the book takes place in Bakersfield, CA, and of course since the entire series is set in the mid to late 1980's, we get to experience the Bakersfield of that time. I remember Bakersfield in 1986, and obviously so does Sue Grafton. She even remembered to include the Basque restaurants and the country music pubs. Fun to read those parts -- and even more fun to see Grafton capturing the unique Bakersfield population just as I remember it, too. Although they're just three hours apart, Bakersfield is about as different from "Santa Theresa" -- Santa Barbara -- as any two cities can be, but it's obvious both Grafton and Kinsey are at home in either one.
I'll listen to this book again and again, as I do all of Grafton's 'alphabet' books -- the biggest problem of which is that there are now only three left. The good news is, all of them are now available on Audible, some read by Judy Kaye, some by Mary Peiffer. Both narrators are excellent and make all the books worthy of many listens.
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