Review by Deb Czajkowski
Kinsey Millhone is a thirty-eight-year-old private detective in Santa Teresa, CA. Being her own boss has many perks; choosing how and when she takes a case is top of her list. Most often someone walks into her bungalow office with a problem or missing person. Sometimes, it’s just plain curiosity from someone or something in Kinsey’s life that pulls her in.
Henry Pitts is eighty-nine years old and sharp as a tack. He’s also Kinsey’s long-time landlord. Henry converted his old garage into a spectacular apartment for Kinsey. Their relationship has proven mutually beneficial, often sharing their evening meals together and discussing his current project or her current case. Henry’s current project is a major plumbing issue. Kinsey’s current case? Nothing pressing at the moment.
Pete Wolinski was also a private detective; ‘was’ because he was murdered six months ago. Now his wife, Ruthie, is being audited and needs Kinsey’s help in locating various financial records in and amongst Pete’s haphazard filing system. It is while sorting through one of his boxes of files that Kinsey stumbles upon an apparent case in progress.
When seemingly unconnected events all appear to point to Pete’s unsolved case, Kinsey’s curiosity meter springs to high. But pursuing this would be purely on her own time and her own dime. Still, doesn’t she owe it to Pete? Technically, no; and technically it’s not even an actual case. It is really just one sheet of paper with coded numbers on it. Curious, though, right?
You do know what is said about curiosity? Curiosity killed the….. (Disclaimer: No animals were actually harmed in this book!) However…..
X is Sue Grafton’s twenty-fourth Kinsey Millhone novel, each novel beginning with a letter of the alphabet. The first book, A is for Alibi, begins with Kinsey at age thirty-two and is set in the early 1980s. Think back to 1980. No one had a computer. And phones were the cord kind, connected to a wall. You want information? You drive to the library or the court house. You need to type up a report or a letter? Or complete a document for filing? Pull out your Smith-Corona! And then put the document in an (stamped) envelope and drop it in the mailbox.
It’s now 1989. Not a lot has changed for Kinsey: she still does things the old-fashioned way! In other words, Sue Grafton continues to succeed in staying true to Kinsey’s character and her real-life timeframe.
But twenty-four Kinsey murder mysteries? One might think there must be a lot of redundancy in plots and overall content. Not so! Each book is cleverly fresh, with new and different deviousness with each plotline. And X is no exception. In X the author yet again grabbed my attention in the early pages and kept me frantically turning page after page, until once again I reached Kinsey’s final report, respectfully submitted.
Which leaves me where I always am at the end of a Sue Grafton novel: Wanting the next one!
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About the Author:
is published in 28 countries and 26 languages—including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. She's an international bestseller with a readership in the millions. She's a writer who believes in the form that she has chosen to mine: "The mystery novel offers a world in which justice is served. Maybe not in a court of law," she has said, "but people do get their just desserts." And like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker and the John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—she has earned new respect for that form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.
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X by Sue Grafton