kinsey millhone, an old-school pi

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My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a private investigator, licensed by the State of California. I’m thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind. I’m a nice person and I have a lot of friends. My apartment is small but I like living in a cramped space. I’ve lived in trailers most of my life, but lately they’ve been getting too elaborate for my taste, so now I live in one room, a “bachelorette”. I don’t have pets. I don’t have houseplants. I spend a lot of time on the road and I don’t like leaving things behind. Aside from the hazards of my profession, my life has always been ordinary, uneventful and good. Killing someone feels odd to me and I haven’t quite sorted it through. I’ve already given a statement to the police, which I initialed page by page and then signed. I filled out a similar report for the office files. The language in both documents is neutral, the terminology oblique, and neither says quite enough.

from: A is for Alibi

A Woman with Principles

Kinsey Millhone may be a daughter of Lew Archer and a granddaughter of Philip Marlowe. Both are classic Californian private detectives based in the area of Los Angeles, lone wolves, disappointed from life, their past and all the evil they’ve encountered. At the same time they are still convinced of law and order and the need for clearing up the last details of all their cases – and they are tough guys, very tough.

So we are now in the 80s and the private investigator is female. The ambience has changed: Kinsey is less busy with very rich clients although there are lots of influential people populating her cases and making life difficult for her. All her cases seem a little less clean with sharp edges than the crimes her forerunners investigated – it’s more a mess when Kinsey starts and ends – of course in the 80s (after the rebellious 70s) society has changed dramatically and all is more grey than black and white.

Nevertheless Kinsey is also a tough guy.

After starting a career at the police of Santa Teresa she quits for an investigation job at an insurance company which leads to self-employment as a PI. Her life is quite simple and low because she hasn’t money to spend beyond her bare necessities. However, this fits into her philosophy. She likes her small office and her small apartment – and she isn’t desirous of lots of clothes, expensive clothes and exquisite make-up or simply an expensive lifestyle.

In general she wears jeans and T-shirts, maybe a blazer on top – for special occasions she own a dress, a little black dress. She likes fast food – no problem to dig into any big Hamburger.

Every now and then there is a man who stays overnight, but Kinsey has no ambition to get married for a 3rd time. So men are friends and occasional bedfellows.

Kinsey’s passion is to investigate. If there is a case she cannot stop until all is open to broad daylight, even if this does damage to her and mostly her income. She is tough and enters each combat, even if this leads to bruises, gunshot wounds, fractured bones … sometimes the isn’t far from dying. At the end she is only satisfied when all wrongdoers are prosecuted or dead. So there isn’t much spare time for a private life.

In general Kinsey’s cases start with some very innocent request like looking for a missing loved one or asked to deliver a package, a cheque … or whatever. A simple job, thinks Kinsey, it’s easy money, however, soon all hell breaks loose. People like to lie, even to the PI they engaged. Nobody seems innocent anymore, nobody seems to be whatever he or she pretended to be … a corpse emerges, maybe even from the past – or more corpses lie up. Suddenly Kinsey finds herself amid a net of lies and deception and seems to be the focal point for the culprit.

… and there is always a clash of violence and action to end any report that Kinsey writes for herself, her office files or the police.

For almost a decade Kinsey is active: there are 25 cases. (The 26th case is unfinished because the author died and there was no encouragement to finalize the last case by help of whoever – the author vetoed definitely.)

Kinsey Millhone made history – the first female PI following Marlowe and Archer while imbedding the cases in the social environment and conditions of the 80s.

Trust me: the novels are interesting and spirited even nowadays – worth reading.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare