by Sue Grafton
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From the book
Iris stood at the counter in the school office, detention slip in hand, anticipating a hand-smack from Mr. Lucas, the vice principal. She'd already seen him twice since her enrollment at Climping Academy the previous fall. The first time, she'd been turned in for cutting PE. The second time, she'd been reported for smoking outside study hall. She'd been advised there was a smoking area set aside specifically for students, which she argued was on the far side of campus and impossible to get to between classes. That fell on deaf ears. This was now early January and she'd been reported for violating the school's dress code.
She was willing to admit that detention slips were a poor means of establishing her place in a new school. The younger students wore uniforms, but in the upper grades, clothing was at the discretion of the individual student as long as the overall look was considered within bounds. The way Iris read it—no skirts or dresses with hemlines above the knee, no tank tops, no shorts, no T-shirts with slogans, no underwear showing, and no flip-flops or Doc Martens. As far as she was concerned, she was playing by the rules. She'd assumed she could wear anything she pleased, within reason, of course. Climp had a different point of view. In the minds of the school administrators, clothing was meant to show modesty, respect, conservatism, and seriousness of purpose.
Her choice that morning had been an ankle-length claret-colored velvet dress with a ruffled collar, long sleeves, black tights, and high-top red tennis shoes. Her hair was long and thick, a color that fell somewhere between auburn and flame red thanks to a mixture of boxed dyes. Two big silver barrettes held the mass away from her face. On each wrist she wore a wide leather cuff, studded with brass and silver nail heads. As it turned out, all of this was a great big no-no. Well, shit.
The school secretary, Mrs. Malcolm, acknowledged Iris's presence with a nod, but clearly the woman didn't intend to interrupt her work over the antics of a problematic ninth grader. She was busy distributing mail to various teachers' cubbyholes. A student volunteer, Poppy, was stapling together packets of some sort. Iris was a freshman at Climping Academy, the Santa Teresa private school located in Horton Ravine, which was so la-di-da, it totally freaked her out. She was only at Climp because her father had been hired to teach advanced placement math and to coach field hockey. The tuition was twenty thousand dollars a year, which her parents could never have afforded if not for her father's job, which allowed Climp to waive the cost of enrollment.
The last high school she'd attended was in a "mixed" neighborhood in Detroit, which was to say, drugs, thugs, and vandalism, some of which Iris had generated herself when the mood struck her. She'd been uprooted from Michigan and plunked down on the West Coast despite her protests. California was a bust. She expected surfers, dopers, and free spirits, but it was all the same old shit as far as she could tell. Climping Academy was beyond belief. Enrollment from kindergarten to twelfth grade was three hundred students total, with a pupil-to-teacher ratio of nine to one. Expectations were high and most of the students rose to the occasion. And why would they not? These were all rich kids, whose mommies and daddies gave them the best of everything: trips abroad, unlimited clothing budgets, private tennis and fencing lessons, and weekly visits with a shrink—the latter just in case some boob was gifted with a brand-new VW instead of the BMW he had his heart set on. Big boo-fucking-hoo. Her parents...
July 10, 2017
Bestseller Grafton’s gripping 25th novel featuring Santa Teresa, Calif., PI Kinsey Millhone (after 2015’s X) opens with a theft. In January 1979, misfit Iris Lehmann steals a test to help her best friend, Poppy Earl, a fellow student at an elite private high school in Santa Teresa. Iris’s impulsive act sets off a cheating scandal focused on Poppy and her boyfriend, Troy Rademaker. This leads to 15-year-old Fritz McCabe fatally shooting Sloan Stevens, who supposedly ratted on the two cheaters. In 1989, as required by law, the California Youth Authority releases Fritz, who’s free to carry on with his life—but now someone is demanding $25,000 from his parents to suppress a videotape showing Fritz and Troy sexually abusing a drunken Iris back in 1979. Fritz’s mother hires Kinsey to investigate the amateurish blackmail scheme, which puts her on the trail of a host of suspects and secrets in Santa Teresa’s wealthiest enclaves. Meanwhile, Kinsey’s nemesis from the previous book, mass murderer Ned Lowe, is still on the loose and has a score to settle with her. Grafton once again proves herself a superb storyteller. Author tour. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary.
August 1, 2017
The release of a 24-year-old who's aged out of his juvenile conviction for murdering one of his schoolmates reopens old wounds for everyone concerned and brings Santa Teresa private eye Kinsey Millhone (X, 2015, etc.) to the case.Even though Fritz McCabe was the one who did the time for killing Sloan Stevens, her death seems to have been the fault of nobody and everybody. Frozen out by her classmates at posh Climping Academy after reportedly exposing Iris Lehmann's scheme to pass high-stakes test answers to Poppy Earl and Troy Rademaker, Sloan was shot 10 years ago while running away from Troy, who together with Fritz, Austin Brown, and Bayard Montgomery, had driven her out to the Yellowweed camping ground. Fritz's parents, Lauren and Hollis McCabe, have welcomed him home, but they're distinctly less happy to have received a copy of a sex tape several members of this crowd made shortly before Sloan's death, along with a note demanding $25,000 for its destruction. Lauren, fearing the theft of the original tape may have provided a motive for Sloan's murder, wants Kinsey to get to the bottom of the mystery--until she doesn't, firing her for calling the kids-turned-adults liars when they claim the tape was nothing but a mockumentary lark. Kinsey's just as pleased to be free of the case: Lauren McCabe's been anything but a model client, and Kinsey already has to deal with the unrelated threat of Ned Lowe, a serial killer on the lam who's set his sights on her. But her respite from both the Yellowweed shooting and her own stalker is all too brief, and soon a present-day murder and the threat of even more violence force her back to both cases. Any time spent with Grafton's inimitable shamus is one of the highlights of the year, but her 25th case drags on forever before ending with a whimper. Fans won't mind as they cheer the series on to Z Is for Zany, or whatever the endlessly resourceful author has in mind.
COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
PublisherPenguin Publishing Group
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