X (Kinsey Millhone Series)
By Sue Grafton
Rating: 4/5 Stairs
Before I start this book review, let me tell you where I sit (with the Kinsey Millhone series) before I tell you where I stand (with this book). X is number 24 in the series. I’ve read ’em all. I adore Kinsey. She’s a private detective living in Santa Teresa, California in the late 1980’s. She’s smart, enjoys what she does, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. I started reading this series in the mid-1990’s, and I always look forward to a new installment – it is one of my favorite series to read. X is no exception.
Let’s start with this – have you read the summary on Goodreads, a bookseller’s website, or perhaps the book jacket (I haven’t seen the book jacket but my guess is it’s the same as Goodreads)? Well…don’t. I really felt like it was misleading. “Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel”? I don’t think so. Honestly, I didn’t find it particularly dark or chilling. It’s been a long time since I’ve read some of the earlier books in the series, but off the top of my head I would give that honor to T is for Trespass. Let me tell you what this book is really about. Of course without spoilers.
As always, the book is told from Kinsey’s perspective, and she has a few things going on.
- In helping her friend Ruthie, Kinsey unearths a mysterious coded paper and an envelope postmarked 1961, but it is not in possession of the intended recipient.
- She takes a job for a wealthy woman who wants Kinsey to locate a recently released convicted bank robber.
- A retired couple have moved in next door. Kinsey’s instincts tell her they will take advantage of her friend and landlord, Henry Pitts.
Ms. Grafton weaves the three stories together effortlessly through Kinsey’s narration and the theme of justice.
This is the truth about me and you might as well know it now. I’m passionate about all manner of criminals: killers, thieves, and mountebanks, the pursuit of whom I find both engaging and entertaining. Life’s cheaters are everywhere and my mission is to eradicate the lot of them.
Along with Kinsey’s latest investigations, we get to spend some time with the usual crowd – Henry, his brother William, and Rosie. Some old faces pop up as well. Don’t worry if you haven’t read any other books in the series, you won’t be lost. For a long time reader like me, you’ll appreciate the brief updates. In past outings, we typically find Kinsey at some point cruising into a McDonald’s for a QP with cheese, but in this book the closest we get is a “fast food restaurant” and a cheeseburger with limp fries.
The investigations were engaging, each with their own twists. I don’t want to say too much here to give plot points away, so I’ll just leave it at that. Kinsey is still a fabulous character. Ms. Grafton keeps her fresh and interesting. Throughout the series we have seen boyfriends come and go, her relationship with Henry strengthen, and changes in her personal life. Each book presents us with new cases and situations, and they are always a delight to read.
Yes, I loved this book. So why didn’t I give it a 5 Stair rating? At the very beginning of the book, before we get into Kinsey’s narration, there is a prologue about a certain Teddy Xanakis. The book begins with:
Teddy Xanakis would have to steal the painting. What other choice did she have?
Art theft! I do love a good story about art theft. And what a great beginning. I was enjoying everything as the book went along. But by the time I got to the ending, I felt a bit let down on the story resolution, in particular the art theft piece of the puzzle. I think this beginning made me think there would be more of a caper aspect to the book, but that didn’t really materialize.
My other disappointment? Now that I’ve finished X, there’s only two books left in this series. We need to add a few more letters to the alphabet. Or maybe she can start over with the Greek letters…
Many, many thanks to First to Read for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.