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S is for Silence

Private Detective Kinsey Millhone takes on a 34-year-old cold case in this nineteenth offering of the incomparable alphabet series by Sue Grafton.

On July 4, 1953, after the babysitter arrived, Violet Sullivan kissed her seven-year-old daughter goodbye. She was last seen heading to the fireworks in her brand new Chevrolet Bel Air with Baby, her Pomeranian puppy, in tow. To her daughter Daisy's dismay, her mother never returned.

Not only was Violet never found, but also was neither the car nor the puppy leading authorities to believe she had taken off for parts unknown. Besides leaving her daughter behind, she also left an abusive husband and an empty savings deposit box. Known for her liaisons with every man in town, there were numerous reasons why Violet may have wanted to start her life over.

Now, after living for years haunted by the disappearance of her mother, Daisy decided she needed to know the truth. She had always wondered why her mother took the puppy, but never came back for her daughter. In seeking resolution to the mystery, Daisy was hoping she could finally gain closure.

Allowing that cold cases are not her forte, Kinsey begins the hunt. Temporarily settling near Serena Station, CA, where Violet and her family had lived, she eventually starts to hit pay dirt.

S is for Silence is the nineteenth offering of the so-called alphabet series of novels by award-winning author Sue Grafton. Each novel is written as a stand-alone story, but recurring characters help maintain the flow of the series. The complete series is set in the 1980s, with this particular story set in 1987.

Although Kinsey still lives in the renovated studio apartment attached by a breezeway to the home of her octogenarian landlord Henry, most of the action takes place out of town.

Grafton put to good use the chapters told in the voice of the various town inhabitants in 1953, intertwining their stories with Kinsey's present search for Violet. The reader is allowed to observe the sights and sounds of the period, and sense the growing desperation Violet experienced in her desire to live a better life.

As in any good mystery, there are numerous leads and dead ends encouraging the reader to guess the possible outcome. Thus, the ending comes as quite a surprise. Grafton is at the top of her game in this superb offering. Here’s hoping the alphabet continues to Z.

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