Series: Kinsey Millhone, #10
Publisher: Ballantine Books, December 1997
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Wendell Jaffe looks great for a dead man! He’s been six feet under for five years ago—until his former insurance agent spots him at a dusty resort bar in Mexico. Now California Fidelity wants its insurance money back. Can P.I. Kinsey Millhone get on the case?
Just two months earlier, Jaffe’s widow pocketed $500,000 in insurance benefits after Jaffe went overboard. Was his “pseudocide” a last-ditch effort to do right by his beloved wife? Perhaps. But how would that explain the new woman in Jaffe’s second life?
Kinsey is in for the long haul as she delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Jaffe’s life and death…and discovers that, in family matters as in crime, sometimes it's better to reserve judgment…
A missing (presumed dead) man spotted, an empty sailboat recovered, and a million dollar insurance policy paid out. When Kinsey Millhone hears the particulars of California Insurance’s case, her natural curiosity calls for her to dig in. But when Kinsey gets caught up in the midst of family drama, it’s hard not to cast blame in J is for Judgement.
I loved the deep dive into Kinsey’s past. It’s always been Kinsey and her aunt Gin since her parents died in a horrific car accident. She’s grown up independent, and she’s just fine with that, thank you very much…right? But when the case reveals that her extended family isn’t as far away as she thinks, Kinsey suddenly has to struggle with whether or not she wants to be a part of their world. I loved how Grafton explores the difference between what we actually want and what we’re just used to.
The case behind J is for Judgement is a mix of sad and intriguing. The missing man, Wendell Jaffe, leaves behind a wife, two teenage sons, and a mountain of debut for his family to dig themselves out of. It’s a heartbreaking situation, but the family rebuilds their lives the best they can. But when a retired CI insurance agent spots the missing man living it up in Mexico, his wife and sons have to struggle against a recurrence of the pain.
J is for Judgement is less about Kinsey’s case and more of a look about what happens to the people left behind to pick up the pieces. Both Kinsey and Jaffe’s family has to learn how to live again after rebuilding their lives in the first place. It’s a much more human story than the traditional whodunit I had expected. Either way, it’s another crowning jewel in Grafton’s series.