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review 2018-04-13 16:43
H is for Homicide
"H" is for Homicide - Sue Grafton

This was definitely not my favorite Kinsey. Don't get me wrong, I still read it in about two hours, because Grafton's writing is just that engaging. But overall, I didn't feel that the story was as strong as some of the other installments.


The book begins with the murder of a claims adjuster who has become a friend of Kinsey's. Simultaneously, a corporate asshole is sent out to the Santa Teresa division of the insurance co where Kinsey is co-located to try to figure out why their claims numbers are out of whack. He pretty quickly gets on Kinsey's last nerve (I don't think she has that many nerves to spare, so this takes somewhere in the neighborhood of immediately), so she heads off to work on an investigation of possible insurance fraud by a woman named Bibianna Diaz.


This rapidly turns into a total shitshow, with an attempting kidnapping of Bibianna. It turns out, Bibianna was previously engaged to Raymond, the head of a California insurance fraud crime ring involving faked car accidents, staged car accidents, and all kinds of other nonsense. Oh, and murder. When Bibianna broke off the engagement she basically ghosted him. Kinsey gets herself arrested and thrown in jail with Bibianna and ultimately agrees to go "undercover" to try to help the PD make their case against Raymond.


Unfortunately, the entire book felt sort of like farce. The Millhone books tend in that direction anyway, but there is usually an undercurrent of seriousness, and characters who are reasonably believable. Pretty much everyone in this book except for Kinsey, and one of the young claims adjusters who asked Kinsey to work on the fraud case, felt like caricatures of people who might exist. 


And, guys, Raymond - the villain - was the worst combination of pathetic, annoying, violent, and just flat out gross. He is basically trying to force Bibianna into marrying him, which nearly made me retch. I was wholly unconvinced that he had the brains to run the operation that he was supposedly running. His violence was erratic and often unintelligible. 


Anyway, I just wasn't crazy about this one. It was OK, but I'm hoping that the letter "I" is better!

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review 2018-04-07 15:58
G is for Great!
G is for Gumshoe - Sue Grafton

This was the best entry in the series so far, in my opinion, more than making up for the festival of meh that was F is for Fugitive. It started out with a delightful little moment where Henry unveils Kinsey's new studio apartment, where the reader is treated to the full understanding of how much he loves Kinsey.


Authors are exhorted to show and not tell, and this entire scene exemplifies that maxim. Neither Henry nor Kinsey are very articulate about their friendship to one another, and Henry creating, and reveling in the creation, of a space that is absolutely perfect for his friend Kinsey shows the reader just how important she is in his life. It was adorable and warm and refreshing to have Grafton create this wonderful friendship and show us how much these two people mean to each other. Kinsey, after all, is an orphan, so she operates in the world with a chosen family only, as there seems to be no biological family at all.


From there, the book really takes off. Someone is trying to kill Kinsey in a murder for hire plot at the same time that she becomes involved in a rather strange investigation into the disappearance of a woman named Agnes Grey. I recognized the name right away - although Kinsey (not being a fan of Victorian literature, I presume) did not, but I didn't make much of it, so it was actually completely delightful to learn late in the book that the name was in fact significant.


The Agnes Grey mystery was absolutely wonderful and I loved everything about it. I love mysteries where the past and the present intertwine or intersect in interesting ways, and this one really successfully accomplished that goal. The murder for hire plot wasn't quite so well done, in my opinion, but I loved Dietz, her "bodyguard," who ends up being a bit of a love interest for Kinsey before he heads off to Germany on a job. There was also a storyline with one of Kinsey's friends, Vera, who is trying to set Kinsey up with the perfect man. Unfortunately, he's the perfect man for Vera, not Kinsey. It was extremely cute.


With that terrific read, I'm re-energized to continue on with the series. Plus, I've now caught up to Obsidian, so the K is for Kinsey buddy read can truly begin! Huzzah!

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review 2018-03-18 19:22
F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton
F is for Fugitive - Sue Grafton

Mayday, Mayday, Kinsey Millhone is in mortal peril.




This was not my favorite installment in the series, although I still found it enjoyable. Kinsey spends most of this book away from home, where her apartment has been destroyed by a bomb in the E is for Evidence.


At the beginning of F is for Fugitive, Bailey Fowler has been captured after decades on the lam. He escaped shortly after pleading guilty to a lesser form of murder in the death of his friend, Jean Timberlake, who was also reviled as the town floozy at the ripe young age of 17. Kinsey is hired by Bailey's father to clear Bailey's name after all this time.


Sue Grafton appears to have  rather bleak outlook on humanity. Most of the characters in this book are a mess, and the entire Fowler family is flat out batshit crazy. We have Ann, the long-suffering daughter, who has been caring for her fucked up parents since Bailey disappeared. We have Royce, the patriarch, who is dying, but who is also just sort of a shitty person. We have the mother, Oribelle Fowler, who is a narcissistic hypochondriac. I might have killed her myself, given half a chance.


In addition, every adult male in the town seems to have been sexually abusing Jean Timberlake before her death, and no one really seems interested in actually solving the case. Probably because they are afraid that, when the truth comes out, their dark secret will be exposed. All in all, they're a bunch of fucking assholes who belong in jail.


The identity of the killer is...not very convincing. And Kinsey almost dies. Again.

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review 2013-10-28 07:23
Book Review: A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone #1) by Sue Grafton
A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton
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review 2013-10-11 22:45
A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries, No. 1)
A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton Set in Southern California, this fits well into the hard-boiled genre a la Chandler but with a gender switch--in this one our hard-drinking first person narrator and private detective Kinsey Malhone is a woman, and it's the men who are dangerous and of easy virtue. Tough, yes she's no one's fool and picks up on subtle clues of character, but she's not so hardened that she can't empathize with people she comes across. I found the plot far too predictable though, falling right into a huge noir cliche and tipping me off to the identity of the murderer early on. Also, in the early chapters I had been impressed with Kinsey's professionalism--she plays it straight, works with the police, etc--but then she falls into bed with a suspect--not good. I have heard the Alphabet series gets better and Kinsey develops into a compelling character, but this book doesn't leave me in a hurry to make my way to "B."
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