Category Archives: Sue Grafton
Rating: 3 WaterTowers
Tom Newquist was found dead several weeks ago in his car in Nota Lake, CA. Tom was a Nota Lake detective in the local Sheriff’s Department.
The past few months, Tom had seemed distracted and distant. Now that he is gone his wife, Selma, hires Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone to see if she can find out what was bothering Tom.
Hanging around Nota Lake and asking questions Kinsey very very slowly starts to uncover bits and pieces of Tom’s last few months. The more she uncovers, the more trouble she finds until one night someone broke into her hotel room and dislocated a couple of her fingers…all in an attempt to scare her off.
Hmmm, they obviously do not know Kinsey!
The information she gathers leads her back home to Santa Teresa (or rather to the nearby town of Perdido).
Slowly, the clues lead to a double murder and back to Nota Lake where Kinsey suspects the murderer lives and works in the Sheriff’s Department. Yikes!
“N is for Noose” is a lot slower to develop than most of Sue Grafton’s books. An occasional clue pops up, but, most of the time Kinsey is just asking questions.
The ending picks up speed as Nota Lake turns against Kinsey. Of course, she gets her man / woman …but not before a life threatening situation.
I must tell you…the murderer is a surprise, I really thought it was someone else…. :-)
Rating: 3.5 WaterTowers
It has been awhile since I read a Sue Grafton book. Like an old friend, comfortable slippers, a good cup of coffee, and man’s best friend lying next to you…I completely enjoyed “M is for Malice”. I am taking some time off to get back to my favorites, this is the first.
Kinsey Millhone is a private investigator in Santa Teresa, CA (a fictional town resembling Santa Barbara). Over the last few books Kinsey has been meeting, however reluctantly, long lost family members.
In “M is for Malice” one of her “new” relatives, Tasha Howard is a lawyer for the Malek family (owners of the Malek Construction company). The patriarch of the family has recently passed away and there is an old will, but, a more recent will has disappeared. The missing will was thought to exclude the black sheep of the family, Guy Malek, who left 18 years ago and has not been seen since. Since the old will is in effect, all the boys of the Malek family stand to receive their $5 million share of the inheritance…including Guy.
Kinsey’s job, should she choose to accept it, is to find Guy, or at least find out what happened to Guy.
Meeting with the family, Kinsey finds out that Guy was nothing but trouble as a teen. The family thinks the newer, missing, will should be enforced, and are not happy that Guy may be getting $5 million.
Kinsey finds Guy, and finds that she likes him. He is a born again Christian, a handyman, and is living a simple, happy, life about 80 miles from Santa Teresa. His days as a troublemaker are far behind him.
Wanting to resolve the past problems between him and his family, Guy, decides to meet with them (against Kinsey’s advice).
Bad move on Guy’s part.
To find out what happens you will have to read “M is for Malice”. Needless to say, this is another great Sue Grafton mystery where the clues come ever so slowly until all the puzzle pieces are in place and the case is solved.
“M is for Malice” brings the reader up to speed on Henry (Kinsey’s octogenarian landlord), Rosie (owner of Rosie’s restaurant), and William (Henry’s younger also 80 something brother). We meet Tasha, Kinsey’s long lost cousin, and catch up on Kinsey’s ex-lovers Robert Dietz and Police Lieutenant Jonah Robb. Kinsey and Dietz do some catching up of their own.
Old home week…and oh so satisfying.
Rating: 3.5 WaterTowers
In “L is for Lawless”, Kinsey has agreed to help a friend of Henry Pitt’s (remember Henry is Kinsey’s octegenarian landlord).
A few months ago, this friend, Johnny Lee died of a heart attack. His son and grandson are now trying to get reimbusement for the burial expenses from the U.S. Govt because of Johnny’s military service. But Johnny’s records cannot be found and the family is beoming more and more frustrated by the Gov’t.
Since Kinsey is a Private Investigator, Henry think that she may be able to lend some advice to help them out of this stalemate. Not wanting to turn Henry down (he has done so much for Kinsey) Kinsey agrees to meet with Bucky (the grandson) and see what she can do.
Bucky tells Kinsey the story of his grandfather being a hero in the war and how strange it is that his records cannot be found. His father, Chester (Johnny’s son), thinks Johnny was a spy and that his records are secret. Kinsey doubts that, but takes a quick look around Johnny’s apartment to see if anything of interest pops up. Nothing does.
As she is leaving the apartment she meets an old friend of Johnny’s, Ray Rawson. Ray wants to rent the apartment from Bucky and has stopped by to see if he can move that process along.
Kinsey chats with Ray and discovers that he is less than forthcoming about his relationship and history with Johnny. The suspicions start to rise and then peak the next day when Kinsey drives by the apartment only to see someone she does not know leaving it with a duffle bag. Fearing a theft has occured, Kinsey follows this person to a motel where he picks up a pregnant woman and drives to the airport.
Calling Bucky from the airport, Kinsey finds that Ray has been found beaten at the apartment and taken to the hospital. With a spur of the moment decision, Kinsey decides to follow the duffle bag.
“L is for Lawless” then moves the action to Texas and then to Louisville, Kentucky for the finale. As always the clues and tension build slowly as Kinsey learns more and more about what is happening.
Two subplots occupy the background: Kinsey is working through her feelings about her newly found family, and the Thanksgiving day wedding of Henry’s older brother William to Rosie the restaurant owner. Kinsey is in the wedding and that lends a bit of urgency to the solution of the mystery.
I’ve said this before…Sue Grafton is writing a marathon…slow and steady wins. There is no rush for Kinsey’s life to unfold.
Interestingly, “Lawless” is not what you think, but, you’ll have to read the book to find out what it means. :-)
Rating: 3.5 Water Towers
It is always nice to get my latest “Kinsey Millhone” fix. Sue Grafton has become my oasis (now that my all-time favorite’s Perri O’Shaughnessy have apparently completed the Nina Reilly series) in the book realm. A place where I can be with old friends, relax, and know that, eventually, Kinsey is going to figure out who dunnit and move on to the next letter in the alphabet.
In “K is for Killer”, Lorna Kepler had been dead for two weeks when her badly decomposed body was found by Serena Bonney and her landlord, J.D. Burke. Although the body’s decomposition obliterated any attempt to find out if or how Lorna was murdered, the police ultimately decide that no foul play was involved, and, even though the case remained open, it was put on the back burner and left to fade away into the cool Pacific Coast fog.
Lorna’s mother, however, felt differently and six months after Lorna’s death, she decided to do something about it. Finding Kinsey, she explained that she thinks Lorna was murdered, and asked if Kinsey would take the case. Kinsey, after making a few inquiries, decided there were enough unknowns to make it worthwhile to pursue. So with a small retainer from Lorna’s mother, Kinsey went to work.
What follows is typical Sue Grafton. As Kinsey investigates we meet a host of characters and Kinsey uncovers a ton of clues. Many times the clues lead to nowhere, and many times the clues mount up to an overwhelming mountain that Kinsey must sift through, but in the end Kinsey always seems to find that one clue that is the beginning of the end for the killer or killers.
The ending of “K is for Killer” comes suddenly with Kinsey finally realizing who the killer is and calling the mystery man. Luckily for Kinsey that person arrives just in time to save Kinsey.
Sue Grafton is writing a marathon. As such, the books take a more leisurely approach and she is revealing Kinsey’s life (and others like Harry, Rosie, and now Harry’s brother, Detective Dolan, and others) one small step at a time…no rush.
Unlike other series, this one is very easy to know where to start.
Rating: 3.5 Water Towers
I always look forward to reading the next Sue Grafton, Kinsey Millhone series. Steady and true to the previous nine, “J is for Judgment” does not disappoint. A thoroughly enjoyable read that finally gives the reader a bit more information of Kinsey’s family background. As Kinsey struggles with the knowledge she is not alone in this world, she also heads back to work for an old friend.
Five years ago, Wendell Jaffe went missing off the coast of Baja. Wendell had been involved, with his partner, Carl Eckert, in a get rich quick “Ponzi” scheme going horribly wrong. Almost everyone felt Wendell had committed suicide rather than face the consequences.
Five years later the final life insurance payment of $500,000 has been made to Wendell’s wife, Dana. And almost simultaneously, by chance, the person (now retired) in charge of the insurance investigation for California Fidelity (CF) spotted a very alive Wendell in a small town in Mexico. He calls Mac Voorhies at CF to alert him that Wendell may be alive and well and living in Mexico.
Since CF fired her, Kinsey Millhone has settled in her new office at friend Lonnie Kingman’s law offices and is happy and busy. The visit from Mac (Kinsey’s supervisor at CF) surprises her, and the offer to work for CF to verify the report of the Wendell sighting is even more surprising. But Kinsey is happy to work for CF once again even if it is on the sly without the knowledge of the new boss who fired her.
In Mexico, Kinsey spends a few uneventful days. Deciding to relax a bit before heading back home, Kinsey spots Wendell with a woman by the hotel pool. With this nearly confirmed sighting the book picks up stream as several events bring Wendell back to the Santa Teresa area (specifically Perdido, a town about 30 miles south of Santa Teresa).
After Wendell’s disappearance, his younger son, Brian started to misbehave. Over time his behavior worsened and he ended up in jail. When Kinsey was in Mexico, Brian and a few others escaped from jail and killed an innocent woman. The hoodlums ended up in a shootout just over the border in Mexico. Brian survived but was re-arrested and sent back to Perdido. Kinsey lost Wendell but suspected he would show up in California…..a very good guess.
Wendell does show up and Kinsey meets him at his older son’s house. Wendell has plans for himself and Brian to turn themselves in to authorities in an effort to make things right for the first time in a long time.
But something goes wrong and Wendell, apparently, pulls another disappearing act.
Kinsey’s job with CF has been completed since Wendell is alive and CF has frozen Dana’s bank account to recover what is left of Wendell’s life insurance money. But Kinsey is not happy since she now needs to figure out what happened to Wendell this time.
Did Wendell disappear again? Is he dead? If he is dead, did he finally commit suicide? Was he murdered? If so, who did it?
You are just going to have to read the book to find out. But rest assured, Sue Grafton has given us another gem.
Interesting parallel plots involve Kinsey finding out that she has relatives (she was orphaned when she was 5 years old and raised by her Aunt who apparently left out a lot of family information). And Kinsey’s octogenarian landlord Henry is doing well now that his younger, also octogenarian, brother William has started dating Rosie, the owner of Kinsey’s favorite restaurant. Kinsey is finally becoming a richer character, as are Henry, Rosie, William and a few others like Jonah the policeman who Kinsey had a fling with a few books ago.
This series is a marathon…slow and steady wins. “T is for Trespass” is out in hardcover now. Six more to go with the last book scheduled to be “Z is for Zero”. I am looking forward to reading every one.
Rating: 4 Water Towers
The next time you look into the door peephole to see who is there, make sure you are not staring down the barrel of a gun.
Six years ago, Isabel Barney was home for the evening when someone appeared at her door. Isabel got up, and being a careful sort, looked out the peephole to see who was there. It was the last thing she ever did. The person at the door shot Isabel in the eyeball….. killing her instantly.
In “H”, Kinsey Millhone was let go from California Fidelity (CF) and has now, a few weeks later, found a new office in Attorney Lonnie Kingman’s office. Kinsey has done work for Lonnie in the past so it appears Kinsey has landed softly as I is for Innocent starts out.
Sunday evening, as Kinsey heads to her new office she was surprised to find Lonnie and his client, Kenneth Voigt, in the office. Kenneth Voigt had hired Lonnie to fire up a civil suit against David Barney who six years before was acquitted of the murder of Isabel Barney. Isabel was also Kenneth’s ex-wife, who Kenneth is still in love with. The week before the new civil trial is scheduled to begin, the PI hired by Lonnie, Morley Shine, has just died of a heart attack, and Kinsey is now involved.
Picking up the pieces of the investigation, with only a week to go, is a daunting task especially since Morley had an odd, chaotic, organization style. But, as Kinsey digs through the files she gradually uncovers the leads that Morley was following and is able to dig up more information to fill in the blanks (of which there are still many).
Since David Barney cannot be re-tried for murder, the only choice now is to sue him in civil court. Kinsey needs to find as much damaging information against David as she can since everyone is convinced that David was indeed Isabel’s killer.
Unfortunately for Lonnie, Kinsey’s investigation is not pointing toward David as the killer, so the entire civil case may be in jeopardy.
Like a good old fashioned mystery, the number of suspects increases as Kinsey carefully uncovers new facts via interviews and research.
Cast of Characters
Curtis McIntyre is a career criminal, and compulsive liar, who spends a great deal of time in jail or attempting to get back in jail. He visited the courthouse 6 years ago to watch the verdict come in on David (they met in jail), and claims that when David was acquitted, and was leaving the courtroom, David whispered to Curtis that he had just gotten away with murder. It is this revelation that lead Kenneth to start the civil suit, however tenuous that may be.
Simone Orr is Isabel’s sister. Simone still lives on Barney property in a “tiny house” that Isabel became famous for designing. Simone is much plainer than Isabel and less successful. A possible suspect even though it is clear Simone loved Isabel.
Peter Weidman is Isabel’s old boss at his architectural firm. Isabel was not an architect but had enormous talent for conceiving new and unique structures. The “tiny houses” she developed became and instant hit and Isabel became famous. While working for Peter, she met David Barney and they both left the firm to start their own business. This move led to the downfall of Peter’s firm. Peter, and his wife, Yolanda (who hated Isabel) are both suspects even though Peter clearly had feelings for Isabel and still does not hold her responsible for his companies demise.
Francesco Voigt is Kenneth wife now and six years ago. Their marriage was never wonderful since Kenneth never stopped loving Isabel, even in death. Francesco is a suspect.
Rhe and Tippy Parsons are mother and daughter. Rhe was Isabel’s best friend and Tippy considered Isabel her “Aunt”. It turns out that Tippy was a problem child (she is now in her early 20’s) becoming an alcoholic at age 10 and a very wild teenager. When Isabel was killed Tippy was in the depths of her problems as a Junior in High School and, as Kinsey found out, was involved in a hit and run that same evening. Tippy is a suspect.
The Right Clue
Sue Grafton is great at unraveling the mystery. At one point, Kinsey suspected that Morley may not have died a natural death. To prove or disprove this fact, Kinsey was advised to gather food, and other products that Morley may have ingested and have them tested. Morley was supposed to be on a diet, however, he regularly went to his office to down a few thousand calories of good old high fat food. One of these yummy delights was still in the garbage can and, when analyzed, was found to contain a poisonous mushroom ingredient.
Morley was murdered.
Unfortunately for Kinsey, she uncovers the same information that prompted the killer to poison Morley, and one evening a phone call by Curtis asking to meet her leads to Kinsey being attacked by the killer. The gun battle that ensues is very exciting.
“I is for Innocent” is the best Sue Grafton book I have read so far. This was an intriguing book that reveals the mystery one step at a time. The ending is quite satisfying. In fact, Kinsey is now working again for CF. Excellent.
Rating: 3.5 Water Towers
I love it when a novelist has the main character say “Honestly, I’m not making this stuff up”. Sue Grafton has a great sense of humor along with a great writing style. I feel very comfortable knowing that every few books I will read another of the Kinsey Millhone series (“S” is the latest release with “T” coming soon).
For those who have not read “A is for Alibi” (I’m so thankful that it is easy to remember which book is the first in this series) Kinsey Millhone is a single ex-cop, now a Private Investigator, based in Santa Teresa, CA. Santa Teresa is a fictional town similar to the real town of Santa Barbara. Kinsey rents a small apartment from Henry, an 80-something retired baker who designs crossword puzzles in his spare time. In addition to picking up normal PI work, Kinsey works part-time on a contract basis (in exchange for office space) with California Fidelity (CF) insurance as an investigator. She has a fondness for VW Beetles and her “all occasion” black dress which she mostly keeps in the car.
In “H is for Homicide” Kinsey is on the trail (at the request of CF) of a person, Bibianna Diaz, who is suspected of insurance fraud. As Kinsey investigates, she befriends Bibianna who knows Kinsey as “Hanna Moore”. As happens quite often to Kinsey, the action picks up, and deepens, quickly with, sometimes, deadly results setting the stage for Grafton’s magic carpet ride of mystery and suspense.
In “H”, Bibianna is taken away at gun point, a shoot-out ensues, a person dies, and Kinsey / Hanna and Bibianna are thrown in jail.
During the night, while in jail, Hanna / Kinsey is taken out of the holding cell to be “questioned”. It turns out that the local police, Lt. Dolan, who knows Kinsey, and the LAPD need undercover help breaking the insurance fraud ring of which Bibianna is just one tip of an iceberg. Kinsey/ Hanna, reluctantly, agrees to help. However, upon release from jail, and before any promised briefings from the police can happen, Hanna / Kinsey and Bibianna are back in the company of Bibianna’s ex-finance and insurance fraud ringmaster (who ordered Bibianna taken at gunpoint), Raymond, and his thug sidekick, with Donald and Daffy Duck tattoos on his arms, Luis. Getting to know Raymond and Luis, the reader finds out that the former suffers from Tourette Syndrome, while the latter knows how to cook.
Off they go to LA.
The action is fast and furious while Hanna / Kinsey continues the investigation (without being able to communicate with Lt. Dolan) and in the process learns how to commit car crashes that can result in thousands of dollars in insurance money.
Grafton shines as “H is for Homicide” rushes to satisfying ending. This book has tons of action packed into only 287 paperback pages, and because of Grafton’s silky smooth writing style is a very fast read.
For more information on Tourette Syndrome go here: http://www.tsa-usa.org/