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Q is for Quarry (Kinsey Millhone Alphabet series) Paperback – 6 Dec 2012
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The alphabet mysteries continue with a disturbing case for private investigator Kinsey Millhone.
About the Author
Sue Grafton has become one of the most popular female writers, both in the UK and in the US. Born in Kentucky in 1940, she began her career as a TV scriptwriter before Kinsey Millhone and the 'alphabet' series took off. Two of the novels B is for Burglar and C is for Corpse won the first Anthony Awards for Best Novel. Sue lives and writes in Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky.
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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.
Kinsey is helping a couple of cops / ex cops track down a dead woman's identity and her killer. This gets confused towards the end. I really could not see why ordinary folks, men especially, should tell a PI stranger such personal stuff. And nobody ever looks for a lawyer. My main query is, if the older cop had such a bad back that he was in the emergency room with it, how come he is bouncing around the place a few days later and never refers to the back again? However as an involved cold case story it's interesting and well done.
"Once I had the box of film in my hand, I sat down at the machine and unreeled the strip, which I threaded under the lens, catching the sprocket holes. I hand-cranked it until the strip caught properly and then pressed a button and watched the Sunday paper speed by in a blur."
The book would have been a lot shorter without a description of every breath Our Heroine takes, and would have been much the better for being shortened. The flashes of humor and personality that made me care about Kinsey years ago and kept that relationship going for so long are buried here under a mass of pointless detail.
I finished the book out of habit and loyalty to Grafton, but I stopped caring who the murderer was half-way through and started thinking about what I'd read next and how long it would take me to finish this one.
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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