When wealthy octogenarian Nord Lafferty hires Kinsey Millhone to help his newly paroled daughter find her way back to the straight and narrow after doing time for embezzlement, the Santa Teresa P.I. has no idea what she's getting into. Reba Lafferty's ex-boss, land developer Alan Beckwith, is the man who sent her to prison--so how come she's meeting him just hours after her release, and treating Kinsey to an X-rated reunion scene played out in his parked Mercedes? And why is he also playing sex games with Reba's formerly best friend, who still works for him? A visit from an old friend from the FBI clears up the mystery--Beckwith is suspected of running a money-laundering game, and they need Reba to make their case by rolling over on him. It’s not until Millhone presents Reba with photographic evidence of Beckwith's two-timing that she agrees to do what the Feds want... but she'll only do it her way, which could get a lot of people killed. Grafton fleshes out this well-crafted thriller with a romantic subplot involving a romantic triangle that features Kinsey's elderly landlord Henry, his brother, and a vivacious widow who can't seem to choose between them. It doesn't add much to the plot, but the fans of this evergreen series (who must be wondering what will happen to Millhone when Grafton gets to the end of the alphabet) probably won't mind a bit. --Jane Adams
Reba Lafferty was a daughter of privilege, the only child of an adoring father. Nord Lafferty was already in his fifties when Reba was born, and he could deny her nothing. Over the years, he quietly settled her many scrapes with the law, but he wasn't there for her when she was convicted of embezzlement and sent to the California Institution for Women. Now, at thirty-two, she is about to be paroled, having served twenty-two months of a four-year sentence. Nord Lafferty wants to be sure she stays straight, stays at home and away from the drugs, the booze, the gamblers." "It seems a straightforward assignment for Kinsey: babysit Reba until she settles in, make sure she follows all the rules of her parole. Maybe all of a week's work. Nothing untoward - the woman seems remorseful and friendly. And the money is good." But life is never that simple, and Reba is out of prison less than twenty-four hours when one of her old crowd comes circling round.
By Cynthia K. Robertson on Jan 12, 2005
I have been with Sue Grafton since A is for Alibi, and the best that I can say about the 18th book in the Kinsey Milhone series, R is for Ricochet, is that it is mediocre. In Ricochet, Grafton is very short on plot and very long on tedious description. It's definitely not a riveting tale. Wealthy, retired businessman, Nord Lafferty, hires Kinsey for a different kind of job. Nord has a ne'er-do-well daughter, Reba, who is about to be released from jail. Her sentence was for embezzling money from her job. Reba also has issues with alcohol, drugs and gambling. Kinsey is hired to serve as babysitter and chauffeur. Much to Kinsey's surprise, Reba is a likable sort, and Kinsey is drawn to help her-even after her assignment is finished. Milhone figures out that the embezzlement case is more than it seems, and the deeper she digs, the murkier the situation becomes. But what makes this book a disappointment is the heavy dose of description. It's not just enough for Grafton to tell us that there are flowers in front of a house. She also has to regale us with what they are, what they look like (including height, color, etc.), how they smell, the sound of them rustling in the wind, and even their texture. A description of a toilet seat goes on for a paragraph. Enough already! It's like taking a bite of a big sandwich and finding very little meat. The subplots were also unnecessary. Henry's love interest (Kinsey's landlord) and his feud with his brothers is totally annoying and doesn't add one thing to this book. The story finally starts moving, but not until chapter 28. Still, I gave R is for Ricochet 3 stars because even a mediocre Grafton is much better than a good effort by many mystery writers today. There is just too much fluff out there. So when "S" comes along, I'll give it a try (but maybe I'll wait for the paperback version next time).
R should have stood for Rewrite/Reject/Really REALLY BAD!
By Beverley A. Sutton on Jun 14, 2006
My Iraq-bound son shelled out his hard-earned cash to buy this as a book-on-CD for us to "enjoy" on the ride home when we visited him prior to his deployment.I wish there was a way to get his money back! "R is for Ricochet", is a truly abysmal addition to the alphabet series. I realize that some of my criticism might have more to do with the delivery by Judy Kaye ... but after reading many of the other reviews, I doubt it. If you think that endless filler (think high school student with a 3,000 word essay to write) is tedious while reading it ... try having it read aloud to you. *groan* I can't tell you how many times we made the hands rolling "GET ON WITH IT!" motion. What on earth happened to the feisty, risk-taking, down-to-earth, no-frills, take-it-on-the-chin heroine we know and grew to love? Kinsey Millhone is utterly unrecognizable in this story. Here, she is wimpy, gullible, tentative, and full of teenage angst, a regular worrywart. In fact, she is downright stupid in many scenes. Her alleged "friendship" with the ex-con Reba, was laughably contrived. They have zero in common and Kinsey is ten years her senior. Reba was a totally unbelievable character ... one minute a train wreck, the next ... brilliant star detective. As for Kinsey's new romance ... oh puh-leeze! Sue Grafton was so obviously trying to imitate Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli. Why on earth would clothing-challenged Kinsey fall for a snappy Italian dresser in expensive designer clothes? So NOT her type. How would she even recognize these designer clothes for what they are? The Kinsey I know would have commented that the guy looked "good", period! And don't even get me started on the girlie clothes shopping scene. Kinsey ... you used to have a backbone, what happened? Finally, I totally concur with those who wondered where on earth the title "R is for Ricochet" fitted in!? A cut-and-paste "mystery" that Sue Grafton should have been ashamed to put her name on. Skip this one for sure ... I was so disappointed with "R is for Ricochet" I doubt I will ever pick up another Grafton.
Kinsey gets a new best friend and considers a cat
By Catherine Hallberg on May 01, 2005
Ah, wonderful as always. A new best friend for Kinsey, some boring survelliance, a little bit of seediness- oh, but then the pain of loss and the despair of knowing she couldn't change someone. Kinsey is hired to "babysit" Reba who is getting out of prison after serving almost 2 years for embezzlement- simple, huh? Luckily for Kinsey, Reba, her new best friend also has great taste in clothing and manages to do some fashion re-education for Kinsey. More surprisingly, Kinsey gets a great new haircut- imagine how stylish she's looking! All this happens before the danger picks up and Kinsey is in the middle of breaking and entry and even scarier elements around the edges of crime. No great surprise, these lead to actual danger for Kinsey and fears for Reba's life. R doesn't bring in any members of Kinsey's trying-to-get-closer family, but Kinsey learns some lessons about intimacy from a long term friend. She observes as Henry's family interferes in his possibilities for romance and she supports Henry in standing up to his brothers. Rosie is off the offal cooking stint- although I'm googling Hungarian recipes right now to see if some of those sound appealing- and is now serving cheap wine to compensate for better cooking. All in all, R is a good adventure to add to the rest of the alphabet and it would stand on it's own just fine too. I'm already eager for "S" and wondering if Sue Grafton will write a cookbook from the Kinsey Millhone novels. I'd buy it. But I wouldn't make peanut butter and pickle sandwiches- yuck. I hate sandwiches.
Limping toward "Z"
By Dave Schwinghammer on Dec 28, 2004
In R IS FOR RICOCHET Kinsey is hired to babysit the daughter of a rich man who's just been released from prison. Reba Lafferty is a very needy and impulsive girl and Kinsey soon takes her under her wing. Eventually she learns that Reba had taken the rap for her money-laundering boyfriend. We also get no fewer than three simultaneous romances. Henry, Kinsey's eighty-seven-year-old landlord, has fallen for a seventy-year-old woman whom he met on a cruise ship; Reba is still carrying a torch for Alan Beckwith, the money launderer, until she finds out he's been cheating on her with her best friend; and even usually celibate Kinsey falls into the sack with Cheney Phillips, a cop investigating the money-laundering scheme. Grafton handles the sex scenes rather well, concentrating more on what comes before and afterwards than the ex-rated details. I've read about a half dozen of this alphabet series and if there's one thing I've learned it's that Grafton has an aversion to the jump cut. She's afraid to leave anything out, including Kinsey rearranging her underwear drawer; she should also get a promotional fee from MacDonald's, considering her love for the quarter pounder. There also comes a time in each of these mysteries where Grafton writes herself into a corner. In this one Kinsey and Reba are looking for a hidden room in Alan Beckwith's new office building. They find it but there's a keypad and they don't know the code. No sweat. Reba guesses the combination. Grafton deserves a big COME ON NOW, SUE for that one. There's no doubt Grafton is limping toward "Z" but I'll keep on reading her just to find out what she does with "X". Xerox? X-ray? Xanadu?
Kinsey acted like a novice
By Karen Blake on May 17, 2005
I have read, and enjoyed, all of Sue Grafton's novels and "R is for Ricochet" is no exception. I liked Reba in spite of her foolishness, but I kept waiting for Kinsey to take control of the situation. It was out of character for Kinsey to do some of the dumb things she did, such as telling Nord where Reba was over a telephone line that surely was tapped; not arranging for protection nor carrying a weapon when meeting thugs in a parking lot; letting (the slippery)Reba out of her sight so often, etc. Kinsey acted much too naive considering her age and experience, and contrary to the savy she exhibted in past cases. Grafton seemed to be holding back--almost like she was trying not to offend any readers, however you can't write a good thriller when you're trying too hard to be politically correct.
Not quite on par with the others in the series
By Bookphile on May 24, 2008
I've been reading Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone mysteries for years and have loved the series as a whole. Kinsey is a character who seems so real it's as if she'll jump right off the page. She's also a woman with whom I can relate, the kind of woman I'd enjoy having as a friend because she is who she is without any pretense. When Kinsey has had problems with love, I've been sad for her and when she's been in dangerous situations, I've been worried about her. In short, she is a beloved character to me and I had thought that I could never read a novel in the series in which I would be, well, bored. I was wrong. The premise of this novel, that of Kinsey as babysitter, just didn't quite work for me. What was more, it felt thin and stretched out, the plot tending to meander. I couldn't see how Kinsey could like Reba as much as she did as Kinsey has always seemed so down to earth, the sort of person who has no time for b.s. Yet Reba dealt plenty of it and Kinsey was happy to do Reba's bidding. None of it seemed all that in character to me and I couldn't warm up to Reba either, who just struck me as self-centered and obnoxious. Surprisingly, I also didn't enjoy the subplot involving Henry and that really surprised me as he's a character that I normally enjoy. Maybe the whole love triangle involving him and his brother just struck me as too soap-operaish, I don't know. At any rate, I felt that the end result of their mini feud was very unsatisfying given that it more or less rendered that whole subplot pointless. Henry also seemed rather more petulant than I remember him being in other novels, which made him less endearing to me. The real high point of the novel for me was the new man in Kinsey's life. She's always been a character who's so unlucky in love and who seems so lonely at times that I was glad to see that she might finally have found someone. I hope I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch in that regard but, really, Kinsey's had so many bad relationships that another would start to seem too cliche. I tend to prefer serial novels to one-offs but I find myself wondering sometimes if the author reaches a point in a serial where they just don't know what to do with their character anymore. I felt almost like this book had reached that point. Maybe Grafton was trying to diverge a bit from the usual structure of this series in order to spice things up but to me she didn't hit the mark. I would have preferred more of Kinsey's usual sleuthing and less of the uninteresting character she created in Reba.
R is for REALLY Disappointing
By A Reader From Delaware on Sep 06, 2005
It took me forever to finish the latest book in Sue Grafton's series, and I've read them all. She's an excellent writer, but this book was really disappointing. The series is a mystery series, but there was no mystery here. It was just a long, drawn out story with the main character (Kinsey) taking a back seat and leaving me wondering if Ms. Grafton has become a little bored with this series. I think that if she's looking for a change in writing style or wanting to develop a new main character, she should just write a book outside of this series like so many other authors (i.e. Sara Paretsky, Laura Lippman) have done. She's still a fantastic writer, however. I just wouldn't recommend this particular book to someone who has never before read Grafton.
R is for...What?
By David W. Nicholas on Oct 31, 2004
This is one of the bigger dissappointments I've had in recent years. Usually Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone novels are worthwhile, interesting, intelligently-contrived mysteries with a point and a purpose, and characters that are interesting and believable. Unfortunately, in this installment, most of the characters aren't believable at all, and some of the action seems so contrived it's frankly silly. The book begins with Kinsey getting hired to babysit a woman who's getting out of prison. Her father's wealthy, but she apparently saw the need to embezzle money from the place she worked. My first problem was that no one who investigated the case originally saw the contradiction of a rich man's daughter whose father doted on her (he bought her a BMW for her birthday) embezzling money she didn't need and probably could have gotten from dad. The mystery plot of the book careens from one improbability to the next, so that when Kinsey decides *not* to carry her gun when going to confront the bad guy at the end, I just was laughing at the improbability of the whole thing. There's a pair of subplots, one with Kinsey having a romance with a cop, another with her landlord having a romance with a lady he met on a cruise, and they are fun, but the main plot's silly. So this is (I think) the worst book in the series for a while. I was really disappointed.
By Anne Haehl on May 23, 2005
Kinsey Milhone is an ex-cop, an experienced PI--yet she follows every foolish lead of the alcoholic, gambling-addicted, ex-con Reeba. Hard to see anyone she DOESN'T betray except her elderly neighbor, Henry. No savvy, no morals--quite an unlikeable character in this book. There are some interesting plot twists, but Kinsey doesn't figure out any of them. Skip this one.
Another Page-Turner from Sue Grafton
By Bookreporter on Jul 25, 2004
Kinsey Millhone's personal life is so dreary that even her octogenarian pal and landlord, Henry, is a social butterfly by comparison. At least Henry has a girlfriend. Kinsey's doldrums are lifted when she accepts what appears to be an easy-money assignment from a wealthy local resident. Pick up his errant daughter, Reba Lafferty, from prison. Make sure she registers with the parole board and stays away from booze, drugs and bad company for a few days until she gets back on her feet. A piece of cake, right? Fans of Grafton's popular alphabet series will be nodding knowingly that the simplest assignment can turn from cake to hash in less time than it takes to open the box. Reba Lafferty turns out to be a handful. She has been spoiled rotten by an indulgent, elderly father who blames her downfall on bad choices in life and friends. These include not only alcohol and drugs but also embezzlement from her employer. Also, she has picked up some pretty interesting pals in prison, to no small concern of her father. As Kinsey soon discovers, after peering through a hedge and observing a steamy reunion between Reba and her ex-employer within hours of her release from imprisonment for stealing money from his company, there's a whole lot more going on than meets the eye. Meanwhile, Kinsey keeps running into an old flame, Cheney, from the FBI. Is it personal, business, or a little of both? She discovers that not only is the FBI trying to reel him in, but the IRS is hot on his tail. When details start to emerge on how big a fish Reba's former boss really is, it's all business --- at least until late hours keep Cheney and Kinsey working together and old embers start to rekindle. Once Reba is convinced that her former boss has been using her --- and cheating on her to boot --- she's ready to help trip him up. Kinsey discovers that Reba has all the right instincts of a perfect private investigator: guts, brains, energy, the ability to lie to get what she wants, and motivation. In fact, she has Kinsey cowering in several exciting scenes of breaking and entering, chase and capture, which lead Kinsey into the line of fire. Reba would make a perfect sidekick for Kinsey in future books, except for one tiny thing --- she's a convicted felon. Reba may be one of Grafton's more endearing creations. She has blown life into a secondary character, which often takes a back seat in a crime novel. But in R IS FOR RICOCHET, Reba outshines Kinsey and you're pulling for her all the way. You can almost feel Grafton's excitement when Reba comes on the scene. Now if she could just jumpstart this novel with less meandering and lackluster descriptions, from highway directions and dull wardrobes to menus, R IS FOR RICOCHET would be right up there. Once it gets going, though, it's a page-turner. --- Reviewed by Roz Shea