Archive for the ‘Kinsey Millhone’ Category

Any time we return to Kinsey Millhone is a treat and X by Sue Grafton is no exception. XIn some of this alphabet series books, the neighbors play an important role and some Millhone’s family plays a big part. In X, there’s no family (other than references to them every now and then) and some neighborly stuff.

There are three stories going on in X.

It is the 1989 drought in California and Kinsey’s neighbor and landlord, Henry Pitt is concerned about water consumption. Despite all his water conservation measures, his water bills are rising. Along with this, Henry and Kinsey appear to have needy, clingy new next door neighbors.

In early March, a woman contacts Kinsey. She’s being rather secretive and private and would prefer to meet at her home rather than in Kinsey’s office to discuss her services. However, she is also leaving the next morning on an extended trip. So in early evening, Kinsey takes the half hour drive along windy roads to meet Hallie Bettancourt in what can only be described as a mansion. Hallie wants to find the son she gave up for adoption many years earlier.

If you recall from other books, a fellow (somewhat slimy) detective, Pete Wolinsky was killed in a robbery attempt. His widow, Ruthie, is contacted by the IRS who is looking at Pete’s records as well as his former employer, Byrd-Shine Investigations, which ceased operations 15 years earlier. Ruthie has looked through whatever she has and come up empty handed and has asked Kinsey to look through the one box she has. While not finding any financial records, Kinsey did stumble across a sheet with 12 rows of numbers, each with 8 columns of 4 numbers, tucked into a folder. Additionally, underneath the bottom flap of the storage box was an envelope containing a rosary, a bible, and two greeting cards from a Lenore Redfern, who died a dozen years earlier. Apparently the envelope was meant for her daughter, who was four at the time of her death.

In X, nothing is as it appears to be, which of course, is why we like reading Sue Grafton mysteries. Other than the clothing Ms. Grafton describes, there is nothing that would set the book in 1989 vs. 2015–well maybe no cell phones and laptops. Her neighbors, Henry, William and Rosie play minor roles, as do her previous dalliances. Her new characters are interesting and the plots are new.

With only two more letters to go in the series, I’m hoping Ms. Grafton will think about doubling up on letters, AA is for Accidental Asphyxiation or start using numbers. I hate to think at she would stop writing. That would be T is for Tragic. Anyway, I’m sure there are many of you out there who have invested the time to read the 23 previous novels in the series. It would be silly to stop now. Go for it.

And don’t forget one of my favorite books by Grafton, Kinsey and Me. It is some of Grafton’s best and most interesting writing.

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OK, so everyone has their ‘guilty reading pleasure’ and mine is Connie Shelton’s CompetitionCanBeMurderCharlie Parker mystery series. I’m a courtroom drama, police procedural man (think Harry Bosch, 87th Precinct) but something about this series struck my fancy many years ago. I thought they’d been discontinued in the early 2000s but found out Shelton’s been writing them continuously, the last one being published in 2012 (14 in the series, so far). Good for me….I have a few to catch up on.

I started catching up with number 8, Competition Can Be Murder. Towards the middle of the book, I realized I had read it, but really didn’t remember much.

Let me set the background. Charlie Parker (a CPA turned sleuth) and her brother run a private detective business in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her parents died when she was a teenager. The closest thing she has to a mother is her octogenarian next door neighbor (think the female version of Henry in Sue Granfton’s Kinsey Millhone series). She loves her dog, Rusty (I don’t remember the breed). In book 2, Vacations Can Be Murder, she meets Drake Langston, a helicopter pilot in Hawaii. They marry and move back to New Mexico. Between book 2 and 8, Charlie gets her helicopter pilot’s license. So, now you’re caught up.

In Competition Can Be Murder, Charlie and Drake head to Scotland to help out one of Drake’s pilot friends, Brian. Brian’s mother is not well and he must leave his business to be with her. The business, shuttling workers to and from oil rigs in the North Sea, is taking business away from boat operators, who are unionized. The pilots are not. Will the unions take matters into their own hands?

Additionally, Charlie and Drake are renting a cottage on the grounds of Dunworthy, owned by the Dunbars, an extremely old Scottish clan. One day Robert and Sarah Dunbar find their grandson, Richie, is missing when they receive a ransom note. Charlie made the mistake of saying she was in the sleuthing business and gets embroiled in finding Richie.

What do I like about this easy going series? I like the characters. Charlie and Drake truly love each other. There’s a relationship between them…the kind that married couples have. I don’t recall another series like this. Of course, I love the fact they have a dog, especially one named Rusty, which was the name of my first dog. There’s enough action to please most readers. I don’t remember any endings that come out of nowhere. If you can say that a mystery is an ‘enjoyable’ read, then this is the series.

Next is Balloons Can Be Murder, which there is a chance I’ve also read but since my memory is like a sieve, I’m sure I won’t remember until I’m half way through.

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