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On the face of it, you wouldn’t think there was any connection between the ed my perceptions aboutto do with my family history, but murder is seldoht line It was ered the inquiry into my own, and in the end the two stories beca about death is that nothing ever changes The hard thing about life is that nothing stays the saan with a phone call, not to me, but to Mac Voorhies, one of the vice-presidents at California Fidelity Insurance for whom I once worked

My name is Kinsey Millhone I’ out of Santa Teresa, which is ninety-five eles My association with CF Insurance had been terminated the previous December, and I hadn’t had much occasion to return to 903 State For the past seven ely cri accidental injury or wrongful death He’s beenin with legal counsel when the occasion arises Lonnie is short and beefy, a body-builder and a scrapper John Ives is the quiet one who prefers the intellectual challenges of appellate work I’m the only person I knoho doesn’t express routine contempt for all the lawyers in the world Just for the record, I like cops, too: anyone who stands between me and anarchy

Kingman and Ives occupies the entire upper floor of a s don Lonnie’s firm consists of himself; his law partner, John Ives; and an attorney named Martin Cheltenham, Lonnie’s best friend, who leases offices from him The bulk of the day-to-day work is attended to by the two legal secretaries, Ida Ruth and Jill We also have a receptionist naal named Jim Thicket

The space I moved into used to be a conference room with a makeshift kitchenette After Lonnie annexed the last available office on the third floor, he had a new kitchen built, along with a rooh to accommodate a desk, erator and coffeeboxes untouched since the move I have my own separate phone line in addition to the two lines I share with the fircalls foranother office to rent I had sufficientbefore Christ up a twenty-five-thousand-dollar check I put the money in some CDs—the bank kind, not theinterest In the meantime I discovered how ood, and it was nice to have people aroundalone is not having anyone to tell when you’re going someplace At least noork I had people ere aware of my whereabouts, and I could check in with the

For the past hour and a half, on that Mondayin mid-July, I’d sat andA Nashville private investigator had writtenif I’d check local sources for his client’s ex-husband, as six thousand dollars in arrears on his child support Rumor had it that the fellow had left Tennessee and headed for California with the intention of settling soiven the subject’s name, his previous address, his birth date, and his Social Security number with instructions to develop any lead I could I also had the , as well as his Tennessee license plate number I’d already written two letters to Sacramento: one to request driver’s license inforistered his 1983 Ford pickup Noas calling the various public utility co to see if there were any recent hook-ups in the guy’s name So far I hadn’t hit pay dirt, but it was fun anyway For fifty bucks an hour, I’ll do just about anything

When Alison buzzed me on the intercom, I leaned over automatically and depressed the lever “Yes?”

“You have a visitor,” she said She’s twenty-four years old, bubbly and energetic She has blond hair to her waist, buys all her clothes in size 4 “petite,” and dots the “i” in her na on her ood So on one of those “telephones” kids“A Mr Voorhies with California Fidelity Insurance”