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Authors: Sue Grafton

D is for Deadbeat

BOOK: D is for Deadbeat
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“One of the things that makes Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series so unfailingly entertaining is Millhone's character. She's the last one to cultivate eccentricities in the Nero Wolfe manner, and her unsentimental, loner's-eye view of herself and the world keeps her feet on the ground. But her cases often get messy because she feels things strongly. This happens again, more satisfyingly than ever, in
D Is for Deadbeat

The Detroit News


“Kinsey Millhone has the characteristic persistence of the good private eye who won't be deterred from digging out the truth. With skill, Grafton keeps not only her appealing detective but her readers on the edge to know more.”



“Taut prose and controlled plotting make Grafton an outstanding writer of hardboiled detective stories. Social awareness and human weakness play a great part in the Millhone books, which always manage to finish with a heart-stopping climax. Well done indeed.”

Library Journal



“Exceptionally entertaining . . . An offbeat sense of humor and a feisty sense of justice.”

—San Francisco Chronicle


“Millhone is an engaging detective-for-hire . . . PI Kinsey Millhone and her creator . . . are arguably the best of [the] distaff invaders of the hitherto sacrosanct turf of gumshoes.”

—The Buffalo News


MORE . . .

“Once a fan reads one of Grafton's alphabetically titled detective novels, he or she will not rest until all the others are found.”

—Los Angeles Herald Examiner


“Millhone is a refreshingly strong and resourceful female private eye.”

—Library Journal


“Tough but compassionate . . . There is no one better than Kinsey Millhone.”

—Best Sellers


“A woman we feel we know, a tough cookie with a soft center, a gregarious loner.”



“Lord, how I like this Kinsey Millhone . . . The best detective fiction I have read in years.”

—The New York Times Book Review


“Smart, tough, and thorough . . . Kinsey Millhone is a pleasure.”

—The Bloomsbury Review


“Kinsey is one of the most persuasive of the new female operatives . . . She's refreshingly free of gender clichés. Grafton, who is a very witty writer, has also given her sleuth a nice sense of humor—and a set of Wonder Woman sheets to prove it.”

—Boston Herald


“What grandpa used to call a class act.”

—Stanley Ellin


“Smart, sexual, likable and a very modern operator.”

—Dorothy Salisbury Davis


“Kinsey's got brains
a sense of humor.”

—Kirkus Reviews





Also by Sue Grafton


A Is for Alibi

B Is for Burglar

C Is for Corpse

D Is for Deadbeat

E Is for Evidence

F Is for Fugitive

G Is for Gumshoe

H Is for Homicide

I Is for Innocent

J Is for Judgment

K Is for Killer

L Is for Lawless

M Is for Malice

N Is for Noose

O Is for Outlaw

P Is for Peril

Q Is for Quarry

R Is for Ricochet


Coming soon:

S Is for Silence



Is for Deadbeat


A Kinsey Millhone Mystery






St. Martin's Paperbacks







Copyright © 1987 by Sue Grafton.


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 86-25843


ISBN: 0-312-93902-7

EAN: 9780312-93902-1


Printed in the United States of America


First published in the United States by Henry Holt and Company.


St. Martin's Griffin edition / December 2005

St. Martin's Paperbacks edition / December 2005


St. Martin's Paperbacks are published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.


10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1










Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25






For my sister, Ann,
and the memories of Maple Hill





The author wishes to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of the following people: Steven Humphrey, Florence Clark, Joyce Mackewich, Steve Stafford, Bob Ericson, Ann Hunnicutt, Charles and Mary Pope of the Rescue Mission, Michael Thompson of the Santa Barbara Probation Department, Michelle Bores and Bob Brandenburg of the Santa Barbara Harbor Master's Office, Mary Louise Days of the Santa Barbara Building Department, and Gerald Dow, Crime Analyst, Santa Barbara Police Department.







Later, I found out his name was John Daggett, but that's not how he introduced himself the day he walked into my office. Even at the time, I sensed that something was off, but I couldn't figure out what it was. The job he hired me to do seemed simple enough, but then the bum tried to stiff me for my fee. When you're self-employed, you can't afford to let these things slide. Word gets out and first thing you know, everybody thinks you can be had. I went after him for the money and the next thing I knew, I was caught up in events I still haven't quite recovered from.

My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private investigator, licensed by the state of California, operating a small office in Santa Teresa, which is where I've lived all my thirty-two years. I'm female, self-supporting, single now, having been married and divorced twice. I confess I'm sometimes testy, but for the most part I credit myself with an easygoing disposition, tempered
(perhaps) by an exaggerated desire for independence. I'm also plagued with the sort of doggedness that makes private investigation a viable proposition for someone with a high school education, certification from the police academy, and a constitutional inability to work for anyone else. I pay my bills on time, obey most laws, and I feel that other people should do likewise . . . out of courtesy, if nothing else. I'm a purist when it comes to justice, but I'll lie at the drop of a hat. Inconsistency has never troubled me.

It was late October, the day before Halloween, and the weather was mimicking autumn in the Midwest—clear and sunny and cool. Driving into town, I could have sworn I smelled woodsmoke in the air and I half expected the leaves to be turning yellow and rust. All I actually saw were the same old palm trees, the same relentless green everywhere. The fires of summer had been contained and the rains hadn't started yet. It was a typical California
season, but it
like fall and I was responding with inordinate good cheer, thinking maybe I'd drive up the pass in the afternoon to the pistol range, which is what I do for laughs.

I'd come into the office that Saturday morning to take care of some bookkeeping chores—paying personal bills, getting out my statements for the month. I had my calculator out, a Redi-Receipt form in the typewriter, and four completed statements lined up, addressed and stamped, on the desk to my left. I was so intent on the task at hand that I didn't realize anyone
was standing in the doorway until the man cleared his throat. I reacted with one of those little jumps you do when you open the evening paper and a spider runs out. He apparently found this amusing, but I was having to pat myself on the chest to get my heart rate down again.

“I'm Alvin Limardo,” he said. “Sorry if I startled you.”

“That's all right,” I said, “I just had no idea you were standing there. Are you looking for me?”

“If you're Kinsey Millhone, I am.”

I got up and shook hands with him across the desk and then suggested that he take a seat. My first fleeting impression had been that he was a derelict, but on second glance, I couldn't find anything in particular to support the idea.

He was in his fifties, too gaunt for good health. His face was long and narrow, his chin pronounced. His hair was an ash gray, clipped short, and he smelled of citrus cologne. His eyes were hazel, his gaze remote. The suit he wore was an odd shade of green. His hands seemed huge, fingers long and bony, the knuckles enlarged. The two inches of narrow wrist extending, cuffless, from his coat sleeves suggested shabbiness though his clothing didn't really look worn. He held a slip of paper which he'd folded twice, and he fiddled with that self-consciously.

“What can I do for you?” I asked.

“I'd like for you to deliver this.” He smoothed out the piece of paper then and placed it on my desk. It
was a cashier's check drawn on a Los Angeles bank, dated October 29, and made out to someone named Tony Gahan for twenty-five thousand dollars.

I tried not to appear as surprised as I felt. He didn't look like a man with money to spare. Maybe he'd borrowed the sum from Gahan and was paying it back. “You want to tell me what this is about?”

“He did me a favor. I want to say thanks. That's all it is.”

“It must have been quite a favor,” I said. “Do you mind if I ask what he did?”

“He showed me a kindness when I was down on my luck.”

“What do you need me for?”

He smiled briefly. “An attorney would charge me a hundred and twenty dollars an hour to handle it. I'm assuming you'd charge considerably less.”

“So would a messenger service,” I said. “It's cheaper still if you do it yourself.” I wasn't being a smart-mouth about it. I really didn't understand why he needed a private detective.

He cleared his throat. “I tried that, but I'm not entirely certain of Mr. Gahan's current address. At one time, he lived on Stanley Place, but he's not there now. I went by this morning and the house is empty. It looks like it hasn't been lived in for a while. I want someone to track him down and make sure he gets the money. If you can estimate what that might run me, I'll pay you in advance.”

BOOK: D is for Deadbeat
4.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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