Kinsey Milhone takes a case in a small town. Dead is a cop, apparently of a heart attack. But his wife, unloved by the community and perhaps deservedly so, knows that something had been bothering her husband before he died, and now she wants to know what, for her own peace of mind. So she hires Kinsey to find out what was going on, but not everyone shares the wife’s desire to know. Kinsey finds out relatively quickly that the cop had been investigating a year-old murder case, that originally looked like a suicide by hanging (hence the title). However, the method of suicide exactly matched another case, so he knew it wasn’t suicide — hence an investigation that had been going nowhere. Worse still, the only suspects were in the small town, and most of them were friends. Kinsey searches, finds the original path of inquiry and starts digging. In the process, she gets beat up, warned off, almost fired, belittled by her client, and pretty much treated badly by everyone in the town when they find out she isn’t the innocent little camper people mistook her for at the beginning.
What I Liked
The story is pretty linear, although Grafton takes her own sweet time bringing Kinsey to see it. There’s a short intro to some problems with Rosey back home, obviously something to come up again in a later book, but most of it is just Kinsey alone in the small town getting nowhere. Once she cottons on to the real path, the investigation is pretty straight-forward, but she doesn’t see the result until it is almost too late. There’s some really weird stuff at the end to do with some drugged-out hallucinations, and it makes for an interesting incapacitation plotline.
What I Didn’t Like
Grafton takes a little too long to get to the investigation, almost like the story started out as a short story, with all the stuff at the start added to expand the length. Although the tightness of the ending makes the story move along, it all wrapped up too quickly.
The Bottom Line
Solid entry, different location than most of the stories.