Q is for Quarry
In 1969 two Santa Theresa policemen set out hunting for game when they accidentally found a girls' body decomposing in the local quarry. The county police were called in and one of the original officers was assigned the case. Jane Doe was never identified, nor was her murderer found.
Eighteen years later these same two cops are older and on medical retirement (Oliphant) and medical leave (Lt. Dolan) from their respective forces. Oliphant gets involved volunteering to follow up unsolved cases in the files. Dolan is recovering from major heart problems when Oliphant resurfaces Jane Doe's files. They decide they would like to investigate further. They hire Kinsey Milhoan to help them with the case.
She agrees to assist then in their search. She is taken to the quarry where Jane Doe is found. To her shock, the property belongs to her unknown grandmother. The caretaker at the property recognizes her and once again her cousins and aunt seek her out against her wishes. The family who abandoned her parents and one other aunt again become involved in a small portion of the Milhoan story that continues through the Alphabet Murder serial novels.
Oliphant is certain that a man jailed for another murder is also responsible for the Jane Doe. He and Dolan hope Milhoan can help find the evidence they need. Using modern forensic techniques not available 18 years earlier, they are able to dig a little further. Before they are done digging, both men end up in the hospital, the trio visits Arizona, and another body is found decomposing. Milhoan needs to discover the murderer before she is the next victim.
This novel is well written. It is not as coarse or edgy as some of the earlier Milhoan novels. Yet it is still a darker detective novel rather than going for a lighter touch. The clues are believable, the detection done properly. When Milhoan gets in trouble, it is usually because her investigation has led her to it.
Also, this novel is based on a true unsolved mystery in Santa Barbara County, California. A girl's body was found in a quarry there in 1969. Grafton took the facts from that case, took the evidence, and then supposed an excellent novel from them. In the afterword she admits to deleting one piece of evidence for the story that would bog the book down. Otherwise, the items still remaining are there to be followed up. Grafton then took those pieces and wove them into this novel. At the end there is a pen and ink picture of what Jane Doe probably looked like. As long as the murder is unsolved, it stays open. Perhaps this novel will help bring new information forward and it will be closed.
| The Series:
A is for Alibi
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These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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