I decided to read J is for Judgment last week when I was flying home from a business trip. It was late, and I wanted something I wouldn’t have to think about much. I used to be a big fan of this series, and I couldn’t remember whether I’d ever read this one before or not.
If you’re not familiar with Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Mysteries, they follow a private investigator, Kinsey Millhone. They’re fairly standard in this genre–Kinsey is single, quirky, brave, and resourceful. She had a tragic childhood, has few friends, and no living relatives. She’s surrounded by characters who are almost unbearably cutesy–her landlord, Henry, is an 80-something crossword-puzzle writer who bakes in his spare time.
In J is for Judgment, Kinsey is investigating reports that a man who disappeared years ago and was recently declared dead had been spotted, alive and well in Mexico. His insurance company had just paid out his life insurance policy to his wife, and they want to know the score. It’s a fairly standard mystery. One thing I enjoy about the Alphabet Mysteries is that they’re the right amount of scary for a fraidy-cat like me. They’re suspenseful without being terrifying. They’re also fairly humorous.
As I was reading, however, I was reminded of what I didn’t really like about this series. The amount of detail is insane. I could tell you exactly what Kinsey does each morning as she gets ready for her day, and what she eats for every meal. Every step, every small action is recorded. It gets pretty tedious.
In addition, the mystery in J is for Judgment just wasn’t that interesting. It was so forgettable that even after I’d finished it I couldn’t remember if I’d ever read it before. I recall enjoying other entries in this series a lot more. I did enjoy it enough that I checked out another Kinsey Millhone mystery from the library, but this one wasn’t my favorite.