Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, February 17, 2012

KM is for Kinsey Millhone

Last night I finished reading V is for Vengeance, the latest installment in Sue Grafton's amazing "alphabet" series of detective novels featuring her clever and dogged P.I., Kinsey Millhone.  This one's about a large shoplifting ring (don't think about you and your four friends; think about a corporation!) and about a murder (of course) of a young gambler, an event that opens the novel.  The connections between the two don't become apparent for quite a while.

Okay ... pause.

Raise your hand if you've ever shoplifted ...  Mine is up, I'm afraid.  I've not done any since childhood, but I confess that some Snickers bars I ate and some comic books I read back then were not, officially, mine to consume and read.  I had friends who were much more larcenous.  One high school friend stole Playboy every single month; I was horrified--and grateful when he let me, uh, examine his collection.

Okay ... play.

Grafton's first in the series--A Is for Alibi--came out in 1982, but I don't remember seeing it on the bookstore shelves.  Gradually, they caught on with readers, and by the time G Is for Gumshoe came out, I decided to give it a try.  I bought it, read it, liked it.  And have bought and read all the subsequent volumes, as well.  Joyce was once at a writers' conference with Grafton and was on a panel with her.  Afterwards, Grafton kindly signed all of our books!  She signs a lot, though, so her books aren't hyper-expensive, though I just checked: a signed G is going for $300 or more now on ABE Books.  And a first edition of A will cost you about a grand!  Hmmm.

I've not ever gone back to read A-F.  Not sure why.  Maybe I will when it's all done.

So what do I like about the books?  Millhone is fun to listen to, for one thing.  (The stories take place in the 1980s.)  She has nonagenarian friends, eats regularly in a restaurant that serves atrocious food (she likes the owner), drives a Mustang (she used to drive a VW; it got creamed in one of the stories), is hard-working and loyal (and embraces lots of other values I admire).  She runs in the morning, has sex now and then (what's not to admire about that?), is resolutely independent, doesn't usually solve cases with violence but with what Shakespeare called her "mother wit."  She does get bounced around a bit (she gets punched full in the face in V.)

And the mysteries themselves usually fool me (not all that hard, I know)--yet somehow remain plausible, as well.

I read quite a bit of detective/thriller fiction (more on that later)--but I always look forward to Grafton's newest.  I'm not looking forward to Z--not at all.  I've already had to accept/endure the death of Robert B. Parker, the end of the Wallander series, the death of Stieg Larsson, the death of Ed McBain ...  Such terminations grow harder and harder to tolerate ...

Sue Grafton

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