"F" is for Fugitive
by Sue Grafton
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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High school senior Jean Timberlake was strangled at the Floral Beach seawall seventeen years ago. Her one-time boyfriend Bailey Fowler confessed and was charged with the crime and sent to prison. He eventually escaped while on work detail.

Sixteen years later he was nabbed in a case of mistaken identity. At the time, he was living a straight and narrow life, holding down a successful job. Now older and wiser, he's recanting his confession.

Bailey's father, Royce Fowler believes his son is innocent. He hires private investigator Kinsey Millhone for the nearly impossible task of solving a seventeen year-old murder.

Kinsey meets with the rest of the Fowler family and their Ocean Street Motel business. Bailey's hypochondriac mother and bitter sister Anne add a little flavor to the investigative pot.

On his court day, Bailey is able to escape the authorities again, though one of his friends is killed in the process. Kinsey finds information that shows someone else is behind the break.

Many male residents of Floral Beach had carnal knowledge of young Jean Timberlake in the years before her death. She was pregnant, but the father's identity was unknown. This is a small coastal town, and several of the residents can't be ruled out as suspects.

Kinsey has her work cut out for her. There's a great mystery behind Jean's life and death. Former acquaintances practice selective amnesia. Those with information that could prove Bailey's innocence won't speak up. Even Jean's mother, Shana hinders the investigation by refusing to reveal important information.

As with most of her cases, Kinsey finds her life in danger. Can she find the true killer of Jean Timberlake after all this time? Can she do it before anyone else is killed? Will Bailey Fowler be proven innocent before he is jailed again? The answers to these questions and many more are found in the sixth installment of this popular Sue Grafton series.

Loyal fans know that Kinsey Millhone is the quirky, no-nonsense private investigator who hangs her shingle in Santa Teresa. With her garage apartment and trusty VW Bug, she doesn't fit the image of the glamorous p.i.

Events in E is for Evidence left Kinsey temporarily homeless. For this case, she stays in a room at the Fowlers' motel. 99% of F is for Fugitive takes place in Floral Beach, north of the usual setting.

With the leading lady working out of town, the favorite secondary characters aren't part of the plot. Octogenarian landlord Henry plays a small role, but Rosie the cranky Hungarian restaurant owner is absent.

F is for Fugitive starts out slower than other installments of the series. Kinsey spends a lot of time talking with people and gathering background information. This may be necessary for good mystery development, but it isn't very exciting to read. The story does pick up though. Grafton provides plenty of suspects and viable motives to hold readers' attention. I struggled with the ending, as the answers didn't fully satisfy the questions.

The entire Kinsey Millhone series is quite entertaining and easy to read. Grafton's works are ideal weekend mysteries. Even with minor irritants, F is for Fugitive is a good read. Even if you don't read them in order, you need to read all the books in this popular series. Female private investigator mysteries may not be currently in fashion, but Kinsey Millhone will always be in style.


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Also in This Series:

"A" is for Alibi

"B" is for Burglar

"C" is for Corpse

"D" is for Deadbeat

"E" is for Evidence

"G" is for Gumshoe

"H" is for Homicide

"I" is for Innocent

"J" is for Judgement

"K" is for Killer

"L" is for Lawless

"M" is for Malice

"N" is for Noose

"O" is for Outlaw

"P" is for Peril

"Q" is for Quarry

"R" is for Ricochet

Sue Grafton.com
Henry Holt
and Company