She was a "Jane Doe," an unidentified white female whose decomposed body was discovered near a quarry off California's Highway 1. The case fell to the Santa Teresa County Sheriff's Department, but the detectives had little to go on. The woman was young, her hands were bound with a length of wire, there were multiple stab wounds, and her throat had been slashed. After months of investigation, the case remained unsolved. That was eighteen years ago. Now, the two men who found the body, both nearing the end of long careers in law enforcement, want one last shot at the case. Old and ill, they need someone to do the legwork for them, and they turn to Kinsey Millhone. They will, they tell her, find closure if they can just identify the victim. Kinsey is intrigued with the challenge and agrees to work with them. But revisiting the past can be a dangerous business, and what begins with the pursuit of Jane Doe's real identity ends in a high-risk hunt for her killer.
Private investigator Kinsey Millhone has served Sue Grafton well through 16 letters of the alphabet in a perennially popular series that occasionally breaks new ground but more often traverses familiar territory, as is the case here. Two old, ailing cops--one retired, the other disabled--try to breathe some life into an 18-year-old mystery that haunts them both for different reasons. They enlist Kinsey's help in identifying the victim, a young woman who was murdered and left for dead in the old quarry of the title. Neither they nor Kinsey expect that reopening an old case will incite the killer to strike again--not once, but twice. And while the real case of the still-unidentified victim that inspired this fictionalized scenario continues to languish in the cold case file in the Santa Barbara sheriff's office, Grafton's solution is as plausible as any. While the unlikely trio of Millhone and her cranky geezer sidekicks offers a few chuckles, the inner reaches of Kinsey's soul remain largely inaccessible to her as well as to the reader, which will probably not bother most of Kinsey's or Grafton's many admirers. --Jane Adams