Floral Beach wasn't much of a town: six streets long and three deep, its only notable feature a strip of sand fronting the Pacific. It was on that sandy beach seventeen years ago that the strangled body of Jean Timberlake had been found.
The people of floral Beach didn't pay a whole lot of mind to past history, especially when Bailey Fowler, the self-confessed killer, had been properly processed and convicted. They weren't even unduly concerned when, a year after the murder, Fowler walked away from the men's prison at San Luis Obispo, never to be seen again. After all, everyone knew Jean had been a wild kid. "Like mother, like daughter," some said--though never within hearing of Shana Timberlake, who, whatever her faults, still mourned her murdered child.
And then, by sheer fluke, the cops stumbled on Bailey Fowler. And a case seventeen years dead came murderously to life again.
For Royce Fowler, old and sick with not much time left, his son's reappearance was the chance to heal an old wound. For Kinsey Millhone, the case was a long shot, but she agreed to take it on. She couldn't know then it would lead her to probe the passions buried just below the surface of family relations, where old wounds fester and the most cherished emotions become warped until they fuse into deadly, soul-destroying time bombs.
Kinsey Milhone's sixth (beginning with ``A'' Is for Alibi ) alphabetically filed adventure takes her to the small California town of Floral Beach, where she's been hired to investigate a 17-year-old murder. Though innocent of the crime, Bailey Fowler was coerced to confess to it; he escaped from prison soon after his sentencing and lived a quiet life under an alias until the cops picked him up on a fluke and discovered his convict status. Bailey's father Royce, now dying of cancer, hopes Kinsey will find the real murderer and save his son from returning to jail. During her investigation, Kinsey lives at the Fowlers' beach motel with Royce, his demanding, hypochondriacal wife and their resentful, middle-aged daughter. The experience puts Kinsey in a dark mood, reminding her of her own short-lived family (she was orphaned at age five). Nor does the case itself bring joy, as she unearths the ugly secrets of many of Floral Beach's respected citizens--the hypocrisy of the unctuous minister; the philandery of the local doctor and the violence-prone schizophrenia of his wife; the sad secret of the high-school principal; and, of course, the intentions of the murderer, who kills again as Kinsey draws near. With this complex mystery and her ever-deeper glimpses into its heroine, Grafton's series promises to hold readers all the way to Z. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; author tour.