Monday, November 9, 2015

X by Sue Grafton: A review

X (Kinsey Millhone, #24)X by Sue Grafton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Picking up a book by Sue Grafton is always a relaxing experience. You know you are in the hands of a master, so you can just lean back and let the experience of the book flow over you.

X, the 24th in the Kinsey Milhone series, certainly continues the Grafton experience, although this book has a much darker story to tell than many of the others in the series. In this one, Kinsey comes up against a very scary sociopath, who, it turns out, has had a long career of serial murders of young women (of course). His crimes have gone completely undetected, and, even though the villain is identified early in the book, the problem for Kinsey becomes whether or not she can find the evidence to prove his guilt before she becomes his next victim.

Once again, we are back in 1988 and it is interesting to see Kinsey trying to find a payphone to call her landlord Henry or to make other calls. There is now a whole generation of readers who will not even remember such anachronisms, but for those of us who lived through those times, it's just a bit of nostalgia.

In addition to Kinsey's stalking of the sociopath, she has a mystery to solve closer to home. California is in the middle of one of its periodic droughts and water rationing is a very real possibility. Diligent citizens, like Kinsey's landlord Henry Pitts, are making every effort to control their water usage, but in spite of his and Kinsey's efforts, his bills keep rising. He calls in plumbers to check for leaks and to recommend actions and one of them discovers the source of the problem: the next-door neighbors.

An elderly couple has moved in next door after the old neighbors moved to the East. They give the impression that they have bought the house, but a bit of investigation by Kinsey reveals that, in fact, they are squatters. Furthermore, they are stealing Henry's water!

Actually, I found this subplot very entertaining. I always enjoy the Kinsey and Henry interactions. Henry and his whole family are such charming characters.

I have been reading these books since the first one (A is for Alibi) came out in 1982, so Kinsey Millhone is one of my oldest and most enduring literary friends. I always enjoy a visit with her and I read the new books as soon as I can after publication. This one was not the best of the lot, but it rated pretty highly with me. The villain was creepy and scary and, sadly, quite believable, and Kinsey's stubborn determination to bring him to justice was altogether true to the Kinsey Millhone I've come to know over the years.

The ending was frustrating, but, again, it was believable. There was no magic wand waving to make everything fall into place and justice prevail. In this, it was without question true to life.



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7 comments:

  1. I like it when you can take a look back and see how a character and society at large have changed over the years.

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    1. That's one of the attractions for me in reading series.

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  2. Even if this one is not the "best of the lot," I'll be reading it soon. As you say, reading Grafton is like visiting an old friend. I don't know how she's managed to keep Kinsey in the 80's for so long, though:)

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    1. Apparently, the 80s were a very eventful decade in Santa Teresa!

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  3. OMG, I am so behind on Sue Grafton, I may never catch up. I like her books because they are set in Santa Barbara, CA, which is not far from LA and a town I love to visit. Thanks for reminding me!

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    1. The wonderful thing is, no matter how far behind you are, you can pick up again any time and feel instantly at home.

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