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on 26 September 2002
She was found on Sunday August 3rd, 1969, Grayson Quarry off California's Highway 1. The woman was young, her wrists were bound, she had multiple stab wounds and her killer had slashed her throat. After months of investigation, the case remains as stone-cold as it was on the day her body was found. The police didn't even find out her name.
It is 18 years later, and the two officers who found the body are now both ill and close to retirement. However, desiring one last crack at the case, if only just to give the poor woman a name, they turn to Kinsey Millhone for help. She is curious, and agrees to work with them. But what starts out as an investigation trying to find the identity of a dead woman, soon becomes a dangerous hunt for her killer.
Some fans who may have been disappointed by her last effort, "P is for Peril", will feel much warmer feelings towards this novel, which is one of the best books in the entire "alphabet" series. It's complex, intriguing, written in sharp, efficient prose, with a great cast of characters. Kinsey is on fine form once again, and there are some real treats in store for constant-readers of Grafton, in the shape of more insights into Kinsey's family and background. She's a likeable, resourceful hero, and I am incredibly impressed that Grafton is still able to develop her main character with each new book, whilst lesser writers tend to burn out at around the five book mark.
Grafton is adept at creating casts of likeable, essentially very normal, well-developed characters who keep her books moving and her plots flowing smoothly. The California she evokes is one of a mostly pleasant place full of people going about their usual business, but in all her books there is a subtle sense of darkness and evil lying beneath the genial façade, which often adds a good chill.
Sue Grafton is one of the most reliable authors working today. She can always be counted upon to produce an enjoyable, compelling mystery, which is exactly what she has done here. "Q is for Quarry" is a high-class book with a rock-solid plot, and almost certainly one of her very best.
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This book is essential reading for all Kinsey Millhone fans!
Ms. Grafton has outdone her usual brilliance. She has taken a marvelous series and made it better by adding two new elements to her well-honed heroine and typical plot. The first new element is that you will learn a lot more about what was going on in Kinsey's family before, during and after she was born. This new information will provide the basis for many satisfying plot complications in future to expand your enjoyment. If you skip this book, the next books in the series probably won't work as well for you. The second new element is basing her mystery on an actual unsolved homicide in Santa Barbara County, California in August 1969. As a result, we can all speculate along with Ms. Grafton about what really happened. If the real case is ever solved, we can also see how close she and we came to the right answer. By including four forensic reconstructions of the real victim, readers can also potentially help identify the victim. It's one thing to make up one's own neat little mysteries. It's a much grander and exciting thing to take on the real thing. I hope that Ms. Grafton will create other reality-based mysteries in the future.
As the book opens, Kinsey is about to turn 37 in four weeks . . . and is in a little more reflective mood than usual. Soon some of that's dispelled when she takes on a new role as leg woman for Lieutenant Dolan and Stacey Oliphant, who originally investigated killing of the stabbed and dumped young female victim in 1969 at Grayson Quarry on Highway 1 in Lompoc. Stacey had retired from the Sheriff's Department eight years earlier, but is back working part time on cold cases. This one?s lack of closure has always bothered him. He's suffering from a bad case of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from which the odds against recovery are long. Dolan and Oliphant have known each other for forty years, and Dolan wants to help his friend regain his zest for life. As you can imagine, Kinsey doesn't like direction from anyone and working for men of retirement age who are more than old enough to be her father is a challenge. Oliphant is 73 and Dolan is 63. To that, you can add the complications of illness and lack of physical vigor. It's a whole new set of challenges for Kinsey.
There were several aspects of the story that especially appealed to me. First, Kinsey's disconnection from her family has seemed somewhat artificial to me over the prior books. How many people do you know who are so distant from most of their living relatives? By beginning to make some connections, Kinsey will become a more interesting character. For instance, what would Stephanie Plum's appeal be without her family? Second, some writers overdo family connections over time. The Amelia Peabody series seems to be bordering on that problem now. The books then become more about the family than about the story. Ms. Grafton has wisely avoided that. Third, Kinsey is working with people whom she normally would not have as colleagues. That also provides lots of new scope for her as a character and the chance to introduce interesting new characters. Both aspects of this book were successful. Fourth, part of the book also takes place in the Southern California desert, which is a rich counterpoint for the usual Santa Teresa surroundings in these novels. Having grown up near that area, I loved her treatment of desert life there. It's one of the best I have seen.
After you finish this story, think about some part of your family with whom you've never had much contact or have lost touch with. Give them a call and get together. Find out what you've been missing!
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on 19 September 2003
I would recommend reading any of Sue Grafton's books from A-I. They contain humour, pace and suspense. Q is for Quarry however totally lacks any degree of suspense. Further, the novel also lacks the wit which was characteristic of her former novels.
It appears that Grafton has been influenced by the trend towards writing an epic novel. One can only infer that the writer does not want to short-change the reader by writing a shorter piece of work. Nevertheless a long mystery novel is useless if it lacks suspense.
Here's hoping that Grafton returns to her old punchy style for the remaining letters of the alphabet series.
Q is for Quarry is in no respect "a real page turner".
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on 31 October 2002
I'm a big fan of Grafton and eagerly anticipate each new Kinsey novel. But I found this one not worth the wait. The fact that Grafton took as her inspiration a real homicide made me think she was losing her touch at coming up with an original plot line. I found it all a bit depressing - heart attacks, cancer scares, and two old boys as travelling companions doesn't really grab my attention. I also thought Kinsey was getting just a wee bit tired of it all - even Henrys cooking took a back seat - maybe Kinsey needs an injection of romance to get a smile back on her face. Lets hope R is for.........gets Grafton back to her best.
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on 30 November 2002
In this 17th installment of the respectfully submitted cases of Kinsey Millhone, the Santa Teresa private eye is asked to look into an unsolved 'Jane Doe' case by her aging sparring partner Lieutenant Dolan. So far so Grafton - these stories are set in the eighties and already have a period feel, but the events investigated are usually much older. What's different about this is the passion that Grafton brings to this novel, where the last two or three have been fairly routine and there's been a sense of going through the expected motions. There is also a real sense of time passing, with the middle aged becoming older (although the very old seem to remain the same) and with Kinsey also less sure of her ground. The afterword that described how she came to choose this particular subject for exploration made me cry, as it seemed so heartfelt.
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on 26 November 2003
Having been a fan of Sue Grafton since 'A' was published I have followed Kinsey through her turbulent career and personal life as if she were a personal friend. This latest installment is a very readable novel that gripped me from beginning to end. The change of location worked well and I found the characters believable and realistic. The solution was not one I saw coming and really surprised me. I did miss some of the characters from the previous books, especially Henry, but all in all this is an excellent book that continues to entertain and shows no sign of being tired.
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This audio is essential listening for all Kinsey Millhone fans!
Ms. Grafton has outdone her usual brilliance. She has taken a marvelous series and made it better by adding two new elements to her well-honed heroine and typical plot. The first new element is that you will learn a lot more about what was going on in Kinsey's family before, during and after she was born. This new information will provide the basis for many satisfying plot complications in future to expand your enjoyment. If you skip this book, the next books in the series probably won't work as well for you. The second new element is basing her mystery on an actual unsolved homicide in Santa Barbara County, California in August 1969. As a result, we can all speculate along with Ms. Grafton about what really happened. If the real case is ever solved, we can also see how close she and we came to the right answer. By including four forensic reconstructions of the real victim, readers can also potentially help identify the victim. It's one thing to make up one's own neat little mysteries. It's a much grander and exciting thing to take on the real thing. I hope that Ms. Grafton will create other reality-based mysteries in the future.
As the book opens, Kinsey is about to turn 37 in four weeks . . . and is in a little more reflective mood than usual. Soon some of that's dispelled when she takes on a new role as leg woman for Lieutenant Dolan and Stacey Oliphant, who originally investigated the killing of the stabbed and dumped young female victim in 1969 at Grayson Quarry on Highway 1 in Lompoc. Stacey had retired from the Sheriff's Department eight years earlier, but is back working part time on cold cases. This one's lack of closure has always bothered him. As you can imagine, Kinsey doesn't like direction from anyone and working for men of retirement age who are more than old enough to be her father is a challenge.
There were several aspects of the story that especially appealed to me. First, Kinsey's disconnection from her family has seemed somewhat artificial to me over the prior books. How many people do you know who are so distant from most of their living relatives? By beginning to make some connections, Kinsey will become a more interesting character. For instance, what would Stephanie Plum's appeal be without her family? Second, some writers overdo family connections over time. The Amelia Peabody series seems to be bordering on that problem now. The books then become more about the family than about the story. Ms. Grafton has wisely avoided that. Third, Kinsey is working with people whom she normally would not have as colleagues. That also provides lots of new scope for her as a character and the chance to introduce interesting new characters. Both aspects of this book were successful.
After you finish this story, think about some part of your family with whom you've never had much contact or have lost touch with. Give them a call and get together. Find out what you've been missing!
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on 4 March 2004
Having been a fan of Sue Grafton since 'A' was published I have followed Kinsey through her turbulent career and personal life as if she were a personal friend. This is the book of all books, once I picked it up I could not put it back down, it took me 1.5 days to read. The ending was not one I saw coming and really surprised me, but all in all this is an excellent book that continues to entertain and shows no sign of being tired, cannot wait for the next one.
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on 2 January 2015
I'm a big fan of the Sue Grafton books. I read N is for Noose, randomly, on holiday and enjoyed it so much that I went back to the beginning of her alphabet books and am working my way through them. (On Kindle, so no space problems).
To be honest, I've found them to be better written than I expected from an American detective novel (my prejudice, I know), but I also enjoyed the humour and irony and the occasional quirky phrases and description, so much so that I had to check to see that Sue Grafton was not, in fact, British. I love the way the characters have developed over time: as well as good plots, there's good descriptive writing and character-insight. She does have a tendency to finish the stories quite abrubtly which, generally, is a refreshing change from the long drawn-out, heroine-in-danger finales of much crime fiction. Grafton does not have her heroine, Kinsey Millhone, act stupidly or unrealistically, merely to create a dramatic consequence.
I couldn't comment individually on all the novels I've read, I may have enjoyed some more than others, but there hasn't been one I've NOT enjoyed.
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Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series starring the indomitable Kinsey Milhone tend to fall into one of two themes, either they are all about the crime and we hear very little about Kinsey and her complex family/personal life, or they are all about Kinsey, and the crime is just a vehicle to move the personal angle along.

Here Grafton breaks with tradition. This should fall into an all about Kinsey pattern, as the crime element is weaker than normal and at times unsatisfactory. What saves it is the fact that this book is written about a true event. The body in the quarry story was read by Grafton, and she was curious enough about it to fictionalise it and also use the book as a way of trying to help officers in real life solve the case.

This element gives it a curiosity factor which saves it from what would otherwise be a rather lacklustre performance in the usually excellent Milhone series.
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