X Book Review
|No. of Pages:||416|
|Cover Price:||$28.95, Hardcover, 11.99, Kindle|
Sue Grafton's popular Alphabet Series is always a nice diversion from many bestselling thrillers and mysteries that contain too many dead bodies and plenty of graphic sex and/or violence. Kinsey Millhone, private detective extraordinaire, is as real to Grafton's readers as the neighbor next store, and even though the stories are presented in a matter-of-fact light and amusing manner, they keep readers on the edges of their seats. X is the 24th novel in the series, and is consistent with the previous novels in that it is a blast from the 80s – no cell phones, no laptops, no GPS. Kinsey still types her reports on a typewriter, and uses carbons for an extra file copy. She is the opposite of a fashionista (jeans and a turtleneck mostly), and doesn't cook (her peanut butter and pickle sandwich is her classic go-to lunch). However, she is indefatigable when it comes to solving a case, and while she is human, and prone to a few mistakes and lapses in good judgment, is good at what she does.
In California during the 80s, there was a water shortage. Kinsey's neighbor, friend, and landlord, Henry is trying all sorts of ways to save water and lower his bill. He even calls in a plumber for advice. While this is going on, new neighbors, Joseph and Edna Shallenbarger move into a vacant house behind Henry's, and Kinsey dislikes them from the start, especially when Edna starts to take advantage of Henry. Kinsey had come into a bit of money in a previous novel, so she isn't working quite as hard as usual, but does meet with a socialite who hires her to find the child she gave up for adoption. Her friend, Ruth, the widow of private eye, Pete Wolinsky, has asked Kinsey to help find some tax files that she needs for an audit. While looking through a box, Kinsey discovers an envelope with keepsakes that she feels obligated to deliver, and a written code that turns out to be a list of names associated with a man that Kinsey believes is a killer. As she follows up on what Pete had been doing before he was murdered, she gets herself and others in sticky and dangerous situations; one is serious enough that it just may be the end of Kinsey.
X is a fast read, partly due to the fact that Grafton knows how to tell a good story, and also because Grafton is an excellent writer – concise and clear. Her writing has won dozens of awards over the years, including the coveted and prestigious Grand Master Edgar Award in 2009. Grafton is meticulous in tying up the loose ends in her books, and even though readers know that Kinsey will come out on top in the end (which is always explained in final report), this book differs slightly because there are issues that are not fully resolved, and will make readers very impatient for the next novel.
It's difficult to find flaws in Grafton's writing – if there are any, they aren't obvious. Fans of Kinsey Millhone will want to rush out and purchase X immediately; this book is light, fun, suspenseful, and highly recommended.
An advance review copy was supplied by the publisher with a request for a fair and honest review.
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