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Authors: Sue Grafton

B is for Burglar

 

PHENOMENAL PRAISE FOR THE MYSTERY NOVELS OF
#1
NEW YORK TIMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR

SUE GRAFTON

 

“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

 

“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.”

—Newsweek

 

“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
and
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

S Is for Silence

 

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B IS FOR BURGLAR

 

Copyright © 1985 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: 84-22378

 

ISBN: 0-312-93900-0

EAN: 9780312-93900-7

 

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

 

eISBN 9781429922258

 

 

Contents

 

 

Title

Copyright Notice

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

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

Chapter 26

Epilogue

 

 

 

 

For Steven,
who sees me through

 

 

 

 

The author wishes to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of the following people: Steven Humphrey; John Carroll; Brenda Harman, D.D.S.; Billie Moore Squires; De De La Fond; William Fezler, Ph.D.; Sydney Baumgartner; Frank E. Sincavage; Milton Weintraub; Jay Schmidt; Judy Cooley; Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller; and Joe Driscoll of Driscoll and Associates Investigations, Columbus, Ohio.

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

After it's over, of course, you want to kick yourself for all the things you didn't see at the time. The Had-I-But-Known school of private investigation perhaps. My name is Kinsey Millhone and most of my reports begin the same way. I start by asserting who I am and what I do, as though by stating the same few basic facts I can make sense out of everything that comes afterward.

 

 

This is what's true of me in brief. I'm female, age thirty-two, single, self-employed. I went through the police academy when I was twenty, joining Santa Teresa Police Department on graduation. I don't even remember now how I pictured the job before I took it on. I must have had vague, idealistic notions of law and order, the good guys versus the bad, with occasional court appearances in which I'd be asked to testify as to which was which. In my view, the bad guys would all go to jail, thus making it safe for the rest of us to carry on. After a while, I realized how naïve I was. I was frustrated at the restrictions
and frustrated because back then, policewomen were viewed with a mixture of curiosity and scorn. I didn't want to spend my days defending myself against “good-natured” insults, or having to prove how tough I was again and again. I wasn't getting paid enough to deal with all that grief, so I got out.

For two years, I tried an assortment of occupations, but none had the same pull. Whatever else is true of police work, it does entail the intermittent sick thrill of life on the edge. I was hooked on the adrenal rush, and I couldn't go back to the commonplace.

Eventually, I joined a small firm of private investigators and spent another two years learning the business, after which I opened an office of my own, duly licensed and bonded. I've been at it for five years, supporting myself in a modest way. I'm wiser now than I used to be and I'm more experienced, but the fact remains that when a client sits down in the chair across the desk from me, I never know what's going to happen next.

 

 

1

 

 

I'd been in the office no more than twenty minutes that morning. I'd opened the French doors out onto the second-floor balcony to let in some fresh air and I'd put on the coffee pot. It was June in Santa Teresa, which means chill morning fog and hazy afternoons. It wasn't nine o'clock yet. I was just sorting through the mail from the day before when I heard a tap at the door and a woman breezed in.

“Oh good. You're here,” she said. “You must be Kinsey Millhone. I'm Beverly Danziger.”

We shook hands and she promptly sat down and started rooting through her bag. She found a pack of filter-tipped cigarettes and shook one out.

“I hope you don't mind if I smoke,” she said, lighting up without waiting for a response. She inhaled and then extinguished the match with a mouthful of smoke, idly searching about for an ashtray. I took one from the top of my file cabinet, dusted it off, and passed it over to her, offering her coffee at the same time.

“Oh sure, why not?” she said with a laugh, “I'm already
hyper this morning so I might as well. I just drove up from Los Angeles, right through the rush-hour traffic. Gawd!”

I poured her a mug of coffee, doing a quick visual survey. She was in her late thirties by my guess; petite, energetic, well groomed. Her hair was a glossy black and quite straight. The cut was angular and perfectly layered so that it framed her small face like a bathing cap. She had bright blue eyes, black lashes, a clear complexion with just a hint of blusher high on each cheekbone. She wore a boat-necked sweater in a pale blue cotton knit, and a pale blue poplin skirt. The bag she carried was quality leather, soft and supple, with a number of zippered compartments containing God knows what. Her nails were long and tapered, painted a rosy pink and she wore a wedding ring studded with rubies. She projected self-confidence and a certain careless attention to style, conservatively packaged like the complimentary gift wrap in a classy department store.

She shook her head to the offer of cream and sugar so I added half-and-half to my own mug and got down to business.

“What can I help you with?”

“I'm hoping you can locate my sister for me,” she said.

She was searching through her handbag again. She took out her address book, a rosewood pen-and-pencil set, and a long white envelope, which she placed on the edge of my desk. I'd never seen anyone so self-absorbed, but it wasn't unattractive stuff. She gave me a quick smile then, as though she knew that. She opened
the address book and turned it so that it faced me, pointing to one of the entries with a rosy fingertip.

“You'll want to make a note of the address and telephone number,” she said. “Her name is Elaine Boldt. She has a condo on Via Madrina and that second one is her address in Florida. She spends several months a year down in Boca.”

I was feeling somewhat puzzled, but I noted the addresses while she took a legal-looking document out of the long white envelope. She studied it briefly, as though the contents might have changed since she'd last seen it.

“How long has she been missing?” I asked.

Beverly Danziger gave me an uncomfortable look. “Well, I don't know if she's ‘missing' exactly. I just don't know where she is and I've got to get these papers signed. I know it sounds dumb. She's only entitled to a ninth interest and it probably won't come to more than two or three thousand dollars, but the money can't be distributed until we have her notarized signature. Here, you can see for yourself.”

I took the document and read through the contents. It had been drawn up by a firm of attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, and it was full of whereases, adjudgeds, ordereds, and whatnots, which added up to the fact that a man named Sidney Rowan had died and the various people listed were entitled to portions of his estate. Beverly Danziger was the third party listed, with a Los Angeles address, and Elaine Boldt was fourth, with an address here in Santa Teresa.

“Sidney Rowan was some kind of cousin,” she went
on garrulously. “I don't believe I ever met the man, but I got this notice and I assume Elaine got one too. I signed the form and got it notarized and sent off and then didn't think any more about it. You can see from the cover letter that this all took place six months ago. Then, lo and behold I got a call last week from the attorney . . . what's his name again?”

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