The following lines are the beginning of "G" is for Gumshoe:
Three things occurred on or about May 5, which is not only Cinco de Mayo in California, but Happy Birthday to me. Aside from the fact that I turned thirty-three (after what seemed like an interminable twelve months of being thirty-two), the following also came to pass:
1. The reconstruction of my apartment was completed and I moved back in.
2. I was hired by a Mrs. Clyde Gersh to bring her mother back from the Mojave desert.
3. I made one of the top slots on Tyrone Patty's hit list.
I report these events not necessarily in the order of importance, but in the order most easily explained.So there we have the story. Kinsey Millhone is a private detective hired to find a missing woman who has been living in a trailer in Slab City, a site used by RV owners and squatters At the same time, she gets a call from an attorney with the public defender's office in Carson City, Nevada. He informs her that a man that they put in jail has a contract out on both of them. Kinsey heads off to locate the missing woman, who is found in a care facility. After arranging to have the woman returned to Santa Teresa, she is attacked by the hit man on her return trip. Soon after that, she hires Robert Dietz, a PI that she has worked with (long distance) in the past, as her bodyguard.
The two stories intertwine, not related to each other, but each one impinging on the other. The main characters are interesting and realistic. My only complaint was that the plot seemed very complex and leaned toward the unbelievable. Nevertheless, overall it was an interesting read. Based on this book, the Kinsey Milhone series is clearly decent mystery writing, but not for everyone, I am sure. If I continue reading the series, it will be for the glimpses of Santa Barbara and the setting of the 1980s. The series was started in that decade, and as of the last published book, "W" is for Wasted, Kinsey has not left that decade.
Moira at Clothes in Books recently blogged about "U" is for Undertow, a much later book in the series. I commented that, since I live in the area the book is set in, I should read more of the series. Back in the 1980s I read at least the books for letters A through E and possibly F, and I have had this omnibus including G, H, and I on my shelves for a while.
Kinsey lives in Santa Teresa, and she chose that name for the city to honor Ross Macdonald, who used that city in some of his books also. In both cases, Santa Teresa is a fictionalized version of Santa Barbara, California. To be honest, I am geographically challenged, and cannot even find my way around beautiful downtown Santa Barbara alone, so the locations mentioned did not remind me of any place specifically. She does mention Colgate and Montebello, which correspond to areas outside of Santa Barbara called Goleta and Montecito. (Grafton lives part of the year in Montecito). There are numerous scenes at the Edgewater Hotel, which corresponds to the Santa Barbara Biltmore. But I would not have recognized the hotel without some research. I don't spend a lot of time in luxury hotels.
What did strike me is her description of my favorite part of the Santa Barbara area... the weather.
May and June, in Santa Teresa, are often masked by fog—the weather as blank and dreary as the white noise on a TV set when the broadcast day is done.You can tell that she doesn't like the fog, and that is the general opinion of most residents of the region. But there are a few of us around who revel in the May Gray and June Gloom, who love the cool days and overcast skies.
The marine layer was already beginning to dissipate, but the yard had that bleached look that a mist imparts. The foghorn was bleating intermittently—a calf separated from its mother—in the still morning air. The strong scent of seawater saturated the yard. Sometimes I half expect the surf to be lapping at the curb out front.With the novel opening on Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to publish my review on May 5th, but that did not work out. On Cinco de Mayo in Santa Barbara this year, we had a full day of overcast skies and chilly weather. Today, May 6th, the fog was there in the morning but rolled out by mid-afternoon. A lovely beginning to the week.
Unrelated to the setting geographically but fitting in with the time frame, my favorite part was the Betsy Wetsy comment:
Why does everybody assume women are so nurturing? My maternal instincts were extinguished by my Betsy Wetsy doll. Every time she peed in her little flannel didies, I could feel my temper climb. I quit feeding her and that cured it, but it did make me wonder, even at the age of six, how suited I was for motherhood.If you are not familiar with the Betsy Wetsy doll, see this post. I thought maybe the timing (when Kinsey would have had such a doll) was wrong, but it was available from the 1930s to the 1980s. I had a Betsy Wetsy doll, or my sister did. Hard to remember now.
Publisher: Omnibus ed. published by Wings Books, 2002 (orig. pub. 1990)
Length: 260 pages
Format: Hardcover collection
Series: Kinsey Millhone, #7
Setting: Southern California
Source: I purchased this book.