As this series progresses I find the books are becoming more padded. That is the main reason why I am not giving this book more stars. There are three points of view from Kinsey Millhone the PI to a society lady with an unfaithful husband - boringly, just with his secretary, not the pool boy - and an Italian-American mobster who manages wholesale shoplifting. Having got the gist of the two side characters we tend to skip over their lengthy chapters. Oh, I forgot to mention the most boring one, a young man who stupidly borrows money to gamble at Vegas - hoping to recoup what he has already lost - and falls foul of said mobster who has lent him the money. That could have been encapsulated in a couple of paragraphs, and while two years elapse before the rest of the story, the reason for his inclusion is not made clear until near the end of the book.
Shoplifting is the lead-in for Kinsey's involvement as she spots a pair of women stuffing goods into their handbags in a department store and sets the detectives on one; she nearly gets run over by the other as she tries to head her off. The captured shoplifter is wearing what's called booster gear - a lining with pockets under her clothes to pack in more goods. Hardly an innocent then, and she turns out to have five previous grand theft convictions. Her somewhat too trusting fiancé doesn't want to hear bad of her, especially after she is found to have jumped - or been thrown - off a bridge. Kinsey feels guilty and accepts the fiancé's commission to find out the whole story.
Kinsey is also involved with a petty burglar called Pinky, a sort-of friend, a pesky female journalist, alternately friend and foe, and a crooked cop, not a friend at all. It's giving nothing away to say that Kinsey survives when others don't, and as in some other books of this series she is handed a fat wedge of money at the end.
I find it continually less credible that Kinsey badly cuts her own hair and wears the same plain outfits and one dress, when she is accumulating money like this. I can only suppose that at the end of this series set in the 1980s, she will turn out to have invested in Apple or Microsoft (it is California, and we have seen no Silicon Valley characters) and she will retire a millionaire at the end of book Z. Let's hope her life turns out that well.
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