Series heroine Kinsey Millhone, who has only aged about 6 years to my 30 since we first met in the mid 1980’s, is contacted by her local Coroner’s Office because they have the unidentified body of a homeless man who was carrying her name and phone number in his pocket. Might she be able to identify him? She cannot but, due to a lack of clients in her private detective business at the time, decides to investigate a little. Which leads to getting to know some homeless people, eventually identifying the body, making a connection to the death of a local private investigator a few months earlier and meeting some more of her extended family.
If a suspenseful and/or poignant story of academic greed and wasted lives ever existed in Grafton’s mind it is lost within the nearly 500 pages of minutiae the finished publication became. The story here is unnecessarily complicated with insignificant details and there seems to be a larger than normal amount of the usual filler (fast food meals being described in more detail than anyone could possibly be happy with, detailed depictions of driving routes taken and so on). There’s also just a lot of unnecessary blather. For example at one point Kinsey’s car gets a flat tyre which results in a long interaction with two dull but helpful tourists she meets at (yet another) fast food restaurant and is ultimately proven to be due to mildly malicious intent. But this incident adds nothing to the story or any character’s development and the whole episode is just…a waste of time. It is not an isolated incident.
I waded through W IS FOR WASTED with the kind of dogged determination Kinsey herself might use when cleaning her tiny apartment or finishing some other dull but worthy task and only because I am heavily invested in seeing this particular series through to the bitter end. If you are not similarly cursed by having your entire adult reading life coincide with the publication of these novels I wouldn’t recommend this one. If you are a series stalwart I presume nothing I say will stop you from reading this instalment, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
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Publisher Mantle 
Length 486 pages
Book Series #23 in the alphabet series
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