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J Is For Judgment (1997)

J is for Judgment (1997)

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3.98 of 5 Votes: 4
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0449000656 (ISBN13: 9780449000656)
ballantine books

About book J Is For Judgment (1997)

This 10th book of the “Alphabet” series is the first one I’ve rated with 5 stars. I’m having a hard time pin-pointing exactly why though. It’s not specifically because Ms. Grafton has “stepped it up a notch” in her writing although the writing has gotten better and better over the series and she is now content to let her characters interact naturally instead of forced into a plot. It’s also not due to our heroine Kinsey Millhone becoming an even more interesting character, even though I find myself identifying with her personality and actions more than ever before.This is the first novel in the series that I recall where Kinsey is not out to solve a murder (although I could be mistaken in that). Rather she is doing a side job for her old employer, an insurance company, trying to prove a dead man is still alive and thus avoid a large insurance settlement. The danger level is actually ratcheted down a notch or two from previous novels but that seems to allow room for a better story to be told. I don’t always need edge-or-your-seat action or for Kinsey to get shot at the end to enjoy a good story.There is a great mystery here and we also get to see Kinsey’s personal back story develop quite a bit. We’ve known her as having been raised as an orphan from the age of 5 but now she (and we) get to have the gaps of her back story filled in. Add some fundamental new information from that backstory (no spoilers) and it should be an interesting recipe for changes in future books.Maybe this was just the right book for me to read at the right time. Enjoyed it a lot and plan to continue at my present rate of reading 4 of these each year in order to finish up at just about the same time the last book (“Z”) is published.

Ok - I quite enjoyed the plot, the story and the concept were interesting.Unfortunately, I found that the author spent too long describing things which didn't affect the plot and I felt that this distracted from the story itself.But, don't let this put you off. I would have preferred to read the ABC series from the start, as I think that there is a full back-story there for the character that it would be interesting to delve into in detail. Also, I started at J, and it sounds like there will be some interesting character developments over the next few books/letters for the protagonist.I think that I will start at the beginning and read from A, but not just yet (my TBR list is pretty hectic), and I wonder if having built up the relationship with the protagonist, the extra description may add something that I missed by missing that back story there.I may not re-read this one when I catch up to it though, I shall rely on fillers in K onwards to remind myself of anything that I have forgotten.Finally, the important question; did I figure it out? erm... no. I did feel that the denouement was slightly rushed, and more open ended than I would have liked, but it wasn't outwith the realms of reason, and I don't think that it was too far-fetched. In hindsight, there was some foreshadowing, but it was only a little.All in all, I found this a pleasant, easy read, which is what I was after.

Do You like book J Is For Judgment (1997)?

I think the thing I liked most about this book was that we see Millhone struggle with (view spoiler)[ the intro of her family. It wasn't "enter long lost cousin, stage left, *happy happy joy joy*." Instead she feels the lash of it but ends up working on it in her terms. She's honest with her cousin and she wants to be taken as she is, that's her standard for dealing with the sudden arrival of family and all that it infers. I think there's a lot of people out there that would like to be taken "as is" by family members; I believe that it was one of the most relatable moments in the books so far. The mystery itself had me a little disappointed. It just seemed to drag and fall flat in some areas. I found myself wishing there was more to work with concerning Dana and the boys. (hide spoiler)]
—Ariel (mot_avant)

Kinsey is contacted by Mac Vorhees, a former co-worker from her days at CF Insurance, regarding a case from five years ago. Wendell Jaffe had disappeared off his boat having left a suicide note but the body was never recovered. His wife Dana had finally collected on the life insurance policy. Problem was that Wendell had been spotted down in Mexico a few days ago and CF wanted its money back. Would Kinsey follow up and confirm that Wendell was alive and well? She agreed and, basically she found him, lost him, found him and lost him again. In the midst of her investigation while canvassing a neighborhood, she talks to a couple who happen to mention that she reminds them of someone they know. A few days later, a women shows up in Kinsey's office who turns out to be one of her cousins she didn't know she had. She grapples with what to do about her own family revelations. Pretty typical for the series, and a fast read. The case follows the typical formula. I enjoyed the on-going story of the recurring characters and this other side of Kinsey. It will be interesting to me to see how this is developed in later letters. Grafton definitely left it open to be a recurring sub-plot.

I've got to admit, that while this book is slightly more mundane than most of the Kinsey Millhone series, I really enjoyed the straightforwardness of it. No stupid twists, no unnecessary complications, every scene logically connecting to another. I'm really intrigued by Kinsey's newly discovered family too, and I hope that gets fleshed out more in the next book. In fact, I might have given this book another star if it hadn't been for the fact that by the end of the book I was really sick and tir

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