Publisher: Fawcett

September 28, 2016

Review | N is for Noose by Sue Grafton

Review | N is for Noose by Sue GraftonN Is For Noose by Sue Grafton
Series: Kinsey Millhone, #14
Publisher: Fawcett, January 1970
Pages: 322
Format: Paperback
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Tom Newquist had been a detective in the Nota Lake sheriffs office --- a tough, honest cop respected by everyone. When he died suddenly, the town folk were sad but not surprised. Just shy of sixty-five. Newquist worked too hard, drank too much, and exercised too little.
Newquist's widow, Selma, didn't doubt the coroner's report. But still, she couldn't help wondering what had so bothered Tom in the last six weeks of his life. What was it that had made him prowl restlessly at night and brood constantly? Determined to help Selma find the answer, Kinsey Millhone sets up shop in Nota Lake, where she finds that looking for a needle in a haystack can draw blood --- very likely, her own ...

Slipping back into Kinsey’s world is like returning home. It’s comforting, despite the murders and violence that undoubtedly appear in each installment, and familiar. When she undertakes a case on the road as a favor for her friend (is he her friend? Not sure) Robert Dietz, Kinsey finds herself in arguably the biggest mess she’s dealt with.

Tom Newquist was an all-around popular guy in Nota Lake, so when he’s found dead in his truck on the side of the road, the town reels. Even though he was one of two police investigators in the area, no one seems to hold a grudge against him, yet Selma, Newquist’s bizarre widow, can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to the story. Enter Kinsey.

N is for Noose isn’t a cut-and-dried murder mystery, at least, not in the beginning. Instead, Kinsey faces the wild dynamics of a small, tight-knit town, an employer whom she’s pretty sure doesn’t tell the whole truth (only when it suits her), and a nagging feeling in her stomach that just won’t go away. There’s something definitely wrong in Nota Lake…but what it is?

While Tom’s murder was the initial hook for the mystery, I was drawn into the town vs. Kinsey dynamic that permeated the pages. Kinsey was an outsider, asking questions that wasn’t any her never mind. Small towns generally don’t take too kindly to that. The friction and tension in the atmosphere created this draw, this intense need to read the next page, to know what happened.

N is for Noose had even more surprises lying in wait. After reading 13 of Grafton’s other books, I thought I had her pattern down pretty well. I even thought I knew who the killer was and why.

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Won’t make that mistake twice. She blew me away. The killer, the motive, the method…that final scene was just simply amazing.

4 Stars

Posted September 28, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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August 25, 2016

Review | M is for Malice by Sue Grafton

Review | M is for Malice by Sue GraftonM Is For Malice by Sue Grafton
Series: Kinsey Millhone, #13
Publisher: Fawcett, January 1970
Format: Hardcover
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Approaching middle age warily, PI Kinsey Millhone of the Southern California coast is mildly depressed, romantically vulnerable and in the process of reassessing her family ties. Yet, when it comes to her professional abilities, she's at the top of her form, as this deftly plotted and absorbing novel proves. Bader Malek, a local industrial tycoon, has died, and his four sons now stand to inherit a substantial fortune. But one of them, Guy, has been missing since 1968. A drug addict, ne'er-do-well and all-around miscreant, Guy had been disinherited by his exasperated father shortly before he vanished. But that particular will has disappeared, and Kinsey has been hired by the family to find out if Guy is still alive and thus in line to collect his original portion of the estate.

When Kinsey Millhone thinks of the letter “M,” the first thing that comes to mind is murder. Yet when her long-lost cousin, the probate lawyer, asks her to lend a hand to close a missing person’s case, Kinsey finds herself embroiled in a family fueled by murder and malice.

Although M is for Malice isn’t an unusual set-up for one of Kinsey’s case, I was drawn into the story. There was one outstanding difference between this thirteenth book and her other twelve: the victim.

When rebel-without-a-cause Guy Malek left the family home, he didn’t expect to return to it a changed man. Yet, when Kinsey knocks on the door of the reformed bad boy, born again Christian, Malek enters the story with an unexpected touch of innocence. It’s like he grew younger – instead of older and wiser, he became slightly more naive and searched constantly for the good in other people. It created a protective need in both Kinsey and I.

His family, in turn, may win the award for the biggest bunch of arrogant misfits yet. An older brother with a desperate need to control everything, his borderline alcoholic wife, and two younger brothers who have no idea who they truly are and no real desire to figure it out. Leaving Guy Malek with them was something like a sheep among wolves.

The innocence of Guy and the madness of his family created a fantastic story, one that Kinsey narrated, for the most part. She stayed in the background, watching this family drama play out. Normally, the decision to stick her to the sidelines would bother me, but with all the drama going on, it was the perfect choice.

I liked that Grafton pushed Kinsey a little personally. Bringing back Robert Dietz, her old flame, to act as a partner in M is for Malice forced Kinsey to confront some demons she didn’t know she was carrying.

All in all, I loved it. M is for Malice had a great hook – the impressionable, irresistable Guy Malek.

4 Stars

Posted August 25, 2016 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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