This is Sue Grafton’s latest in the Kinsey Millhone mystery series. As a private investigator, Kinsey often relies on word-of-mouth when being offered new cases. Here, her lawyer friend has recommended her to a well-to-do couple whose son just has been released from prison. Why was he imprisoned? Ten years before, as a sixteen-year-old high school student, Fritz McCabe was a hanger-on of a clique. Clique activities included the videotaping of the sexual assault of a fourteen-year-old student, and the theft of exam answers to benefit clique members. Fellow student Sloan Stevens was falsely accused of telling school administration about the theft. Sloan was shunned for most of the school year. Suspiciously, the sex videotape showed up at her house. When learning about this, the clique leader “forgave” her and invited her to an end-of-school-year party asking that she bring the tape. When Sloan came to the party without the tape, events reached a boiling point. To impress the others, Fritz shot and killed Sloan. Ten years later after Fritz’s release the videotape shows up again with a note demanding payment for its concealment.
While investigating this incident from the past, Kinsey also has present-day concerns. A serial killer featured in the previous book, X, is trying to kill her and almost succeeds several times. Also, homeless couple Pearl and Lucky are camping out in landlord Henry’s backyard, perhaps taking too much advantage of his good nature. The story, set in the late 1980s, has an authentic feel for the times. And the big question for Grafton’s faithful readers is, will the next book be the last in the series? We will have to wait and see.