By all appearances, Dr. Dowan Purcell is a very nice man who is dedicated to his profession. The employees and patients at the Pacific Meadows elderly care facility love him, as do his young second wife and son.
The doctor's life seems to be perfect, which is why his disappearance nine weeks ago shocked to community. One evening he left Pacific Meadows and headed home. He and his car haven't been seen since.
Fiona Purcell, Dow's first wife, is concerned enough to hire Kinsey Millhone to find the missing doctor.
This isn't an easy case. Dr. Purcell apparently had some trouble at Pacific Meadows and enough of a motive to voluntarily vanish. Dow also had one current and one ex-wife to support. Could either of them want him dead? What about Dr. Purcell's two business partners? They claim the doc was being investigated for medical billing fraud. Would either of them frame to poor guy?
This isn't an easy case. Kinsey doesn't know if she's dealing with a missing person, a murder victim or a suicide. Naturally, all the suspects are eccentric in their own ways, making for a complicated investigation. You know Kinsey, though, she'll get the job done. There will be a little danger and a lot of humor. Grafton guarantees fans will be taken for a wild ride in P is for Peril.
Fans of this author recognize Kinsey as the no-nonsense private investigator in the middle of the popular alphabet series. Since the beginning in A is for Alibi, Kinsey has done it all and seen it all.
Not much has changed for the quirky heroine since that first book. She still lives in the garage apartment and drives her trusty VW Bug. The regular characters are here as well, including Henry the landlord and Rosie, the restaurant owner.
P is for Peril actually has a second mini-mystery tucked between the pages of the Purcell case. I hate to give anything away. I'll just say Kinsey's new office landlords are not all they claim to be.
The mingling of the two plots makes for interesting reading. Grafton sticks close to her timeline. P is for Peril was written in 2001, but the events take place in 1986. No cell phones or laptops in those days. Kinsey must rely on her intuition and wit to get the job done.
Loyal readers of the series know Kinsey is timeless. Grafton is to be praised for creating a smart, funny female lead character that is not beautiful, not rich and not perfect. She is down to earth and refreshingly human.
Grafton's setting choice is a good one also. The series is based in fictitious Santa Teresa, California, which is heavily based on the actual Santa Barbara coastal town. The area is big enough to handle crime, yet small enough that news travels fast.
Bookworms don't have to read the series in order. Grafton does a great job providing background of Kinsey's career, residence, and contacts at the beginning of each installment.
The Kinsey Millhone series could be considered light reading, but that doesn't deter from the character or the novels. The stories are interesting and entertaining. There are no exploding buildings and crazy car chases, like those preferred in today's action movies. However, there is an intelligent, funny woman heading the show and I find that to be more satisfying.
Overall, the mystery itself in P is for Peril is not complicated. There's a couple of graphic moments and ample salty language. The odd personalities, sarcastic humor and classic story line pacing are all there. Even if this isn't the most complex plot, Grafton's writing talent has readers anxiously awaiting the next installment.
P is for Peril is a fun tale, ideal for weekend reading. With Kinsey's spunky spirit, you can't help but root for the heroine. Kudos to Grafton to creating a female character with a brain and a sense of humor. I can't wait to read Q is for Quarry.