“T” Is For Trespass
By Sue Grafton
T is for Trespass is an entertaining mystery with a gripping tale of treachery. Though the setting dates back to the 80’s, the instances are relevant to today’s time.
The trespasser here is Solana Rojas, a con artist who has a thirty five year old developmentally disabled, obese, and emotionally disturbed son named Tomasso. She uses dishonest and illegal means to make quick bucks. Also, Solana is not her real name. It is a fake identity that she has assumed over the years posing as a home help nurse, caring for elderly people. She is smart to ascertain her victim’s net worth before robbing them in the most unsuspicious way.
She is now assigned to take care of Kinsey’s elderly friend – Gus Vronsky after he has a bad fall and is hospitalized.
Gus is a cranky old man always complaining, yelling and making a nuisance of himself for his neighbors. After his hospitalization his great-niece Melanie flies in form NY and hires Solana (the imposter) as his caretaker, after a brief and satisfactory background check. Solana soon gets on with her con-job and appraises Vronsky’s paintings and searches his house for jewelry and other assets while keeping him mostly sedated. She begins to set the stage for Gus’s death.
Through lies, deception, deliberately confusing times of day and drugging his food, he soon appears to have dementia and memory loss to friends who visit.
Kinsey gets a bit suspicious of Gus’s personality change and starts her own investigation, only to become an object of Solana’s abuse.
It is soon discovered that Solana Rojas is one of the darkest and most dangerous sociopaths Kinsey Millhone has ever encountered. As the plot unfolds the readers enjoy a battle of wits between herself and a formidable adversary to rescue Gus from a life threatening situation.
Grafton juggles many story lines with ease and keeps them pretty much interesting and entertaining.
The tale is gripping but depressing at the same time. It deals with current common newsworthy topics – elder abuse and theft. She highlights the miseries and dangers that stalk our older citizens. Too often, children and other relatives live far away and are preoccupied with their own concerns to care for them. And thus fall easy prey to opportunists looking to con them.
The pace of the novel is smooth and fast. It also provides a fresh perspective (the villain’s POV). The characterization is commendable.
Though the climax was a bit abrupt the story overall was highly interesting and unique.