Book review: X by Sue Grafton

Thursday, September 3, 2015 Permalink

Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series are comfort reads for me. They’re a bit like JD Robb’s In Death series, Robert B Parker’s Spenser series and Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury/Melrose Plant series. Opening each book feels like arriving home and being welcomed by old and familiar friends.

On top of that they can be relied on to entertain me for several hours… transporting me to another place (and in some cases, time).

I’ve missed 2-3 letters in Grafton’s series, one of which was ‘W’ but fortunately it had no impact on my enjoyment of her latest, X.

The Blurb

When a glamorous red head wishes to locate the son she put up for adoption thirty-two years ago, it seems like an easy two hundred bucks for P. I. Kinsey Millhone. But when a cop tells her she was paid with marked bills, and Kinsey’s client is nowhere to be found, it becomes apparent this mystery woman has something to hide. Riled, Kinsey won’t stop until she’s found out who fooled her and why.

Meanwhile, the widow of the recently murdered P. I. – and Kinsey’s old friend – Pete Wolinsky, needs help with her IRS audit. This seemingly innocuous task takes a treacherous turn when Kinsey finds a coded list amongst her friend’s files. It soon leads her to an unhinged man with a catalogue of ruined lives left in his wake. And despite the devastation, there isn’t a single conviction to his name. It seems this sociopath knows exactly how to cause chaos without leaving a trace. As Kinsey delves deeper into the investigation she quickly becomes the next target of this tormentor. But can Kinsey prove her case against him before she becomes the next victim?

x by sue grafton

My thoughts

I love that Kinsey’s cases never quite go as expected. The books are rarely very sinister—we’re not dealing with psychopathic serial killers. The crimes are simple. But the investigations became convoluted. And there’s something refreshing about that.

X is the 24th in this series so by now Grafton can probably write Kinsey’s character in her sleep. She continues to deliver consistently though and I’ve had no dips in interest (which I’ve had with Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware for example).

Kinsey continues to live frugally on sandwiches and her daily run, keeping several exes at bay, and spending time doing favours for others, including the delightful Henry, her landlord.

Hers is a refreshingly simple life in some ways. That’s partially because she’s a no-frills, no-shit kinda woman; and partially because it’s set in the 1980s when information was requested by mail; files were searched manually; and calls made from phones with cords and wall sockets.

This novel’s great fun, well written and paced and lovers of the series will undoubtedly enjoy it. At the same time however… they will of course be conscious that there are only two letters left and be wondering if / how / when Grafton intends to wrap-up Kinsey’s story.

X by Sue Grafton was released in Australia by Pan Macmillan on 1 September 2015.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. 

To celebrate the launch of this book I’m giving away a copy of X by Sue Grafton and Val McDermid’s Splinter the Silence. ie. ONE prize, TWO books!
(I received double-ups of both so sharing in my good fortune!)

I’m afraid it’s open to Aussies only and all you need to do is leave a comment on this post saying WHY you’d like to win this prize pack. The competition closes at 5pm on 10 September 2015 (AEST) and the winner will be drawn at random

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED. Thanks to all who entered. 

29 Comments
  • Cheryl
    September 3, 2015

    Thankyou 🙂 I’m a fan of Sue Grafton, though I have a few letters still to get through. Splinter the

    • Cheryl
      September 3, 2015

      Splinter the Silence is on my “to read” list 🙂

  • Suzie
    September 3, 2015

    I’m a fan of Sue Grafton despite having only read a couple of letters. I managed to pick up a pre-loved copy of B the other day, it’s in absolutely excellent condition so I use the word ‘pre-loved’ appropriately for a change. One day I’ll read Val McDermid, I’ve heard she’s an excellent author.

    • Debbish
      September 4, 2015

      I’d love to sit and read the entire series one after the other one day Suzie. I note a lot of US book bloggers talk about cozy reads and these are cozies for me!

  • Stormi D Johnson
    September 3, 2015

    Well, this series will be done before I even get half way through it so I guess the upside its I won’t have to wait…lol. I just recently read book one…so yeah kind of behind. 🙂

    • Debbish
      September 4, 2015

      True Stormi – none of those angst-ridden months of waiting for the next instalment to come out! #upside

  • Elizabeth the Evil Overlord
    September 4, 2015

    I’ve always thought I’d love Kinsey’s simple life in her cute little condo with Henry bringing her baked goods. The baked goods are the biggest draw, probably! Can’t wait to read this one.
    I was reading your interview at Daniela’s blog, and I have to say that I would definitely be interested in an epistolary book from your time in Mozambique and other places. You should get those letters from your mom and start laying things out so you could present it to an agent. Doing a weekly excerpt on your blog would bring about interest, too, and you wouldn’t have to be a pushy hard-sell kind of person doing it that way.

    • Debbish
      September 4, 2015

      Oh Elizabeth… good idea! I hadn’t thought of the weekly thing! Days of Our (former) Lives!

      And I so agree with Kinsey. I’ve long had life-envy. She doesn’t seem to grapple with traffic and commuting and grocery shopping and everyday hassles. Her life seems simple and quiet… with Rosie’s down the road etc. Of course if it was ever made into a show it’d probably be portrayed less idyllically than either of us think!

  • Belinda
    September 5, 2015

    I’ve read all the alphabet series after “finding” them in the mid 90s and have eagerly awaited each successive book. This is a series I have shared with my daughter, who enjoys them as much as I do. We can’t wait to read X.

    • Debbish
      September 5, 2015

      They’re great aren’t they Belinda?!

  • Zunni
    September 5, 2015

    I’ve read a few of the Grafton alphabet books quite a few years ago. I’d love to read another.

    • Debbish
      September 5, 2015

      Yes Zunni, it’s a great series!

  • Amanda B
    September 5, 2015

    This looks like a cracking series – I haven’t read anything by Sue Grafton or the alphabet series to date. I would love to win a copy so I can make a start on an unread series.

    • Debbish
      September 5, 2015

      I’d normally suggest starting at the beginning Amanda but this might whet your appetite!

  • ezpat1981
    September 6, 2015

    Ive been so blah about crime/psychological novels recently. I just cant find my groove. I haven’t read any of Sue Grafton’s books but perhaps this might spark my interest. It sounds like a great time period to write about.

    • Debbish
      September 6, 2015

      I’d actually love to see this made into a TV series and am kinda surprised it’s never happened!

  • Jenie
    September 7, 2015

    I stopped reading novels a few years ago when my business was crazy busy and now I want to indulge again in so e “me time” these books sound like a great way back into the printed word. Cheers and thanks for the review.

    • Debbish
      September 7, 2015

      Oh yes, they’re great reads – not heavy-going and very enjoyable.

  • Serena
    September 8, 2015

    I have enjoyed the journey of Kinsey and the fact that the books are set in a less frenetic world. I read a lot of crime books but yet to read Val McDermid novel. Thank you for your blog, I enjoy your reviews and thoughts on life! As a sometime blogger I appreciate your consistency.

    • Debbish
      September 8, 2015

      No worries Serena, you’re very welcome!

  • Tracey Allen (@Carpe_Librum1)
    September 9, 2015

    I’d like to win because I’m a booklover of course, and this is a great prize 🙂

  • marlin1
    September 9, 2015

    Love reading both authors but I think I stopped the Sue Grafton books around ‘P’….most likely because there are just too many books to read!
    Thanks for the giveaway

    • Debbish
      September 9, 2015

      Yes… I think I’ve missed two throughout the series… including W!

  • Jess
    September 10, 2015

    I thought I entered but I can’t find my comment so if I double dipped apologies! Can’t think of anything better then sitting down to read two novels!

  • Jacky
    September 10, 2015

    Pick me – I’m a huge fan of your blog. You are the one I go to when I need a new book.

    • Debbish
      September 10, 2015

      Oh good to hear Jacky. Good luck!

I'd love to hear your thoughts