Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

Author: Sue Grafton
Publisher-Format: Random House Inc; Books on Tape; audio 15:11 hrs
Narrator: Judy Kaye
Year of publication: 2011
Subject: Shoplifting rings, police corruption, organized crime
Setting: Santa Rosa California
Series: Kinsey Millhone mysteries, The Alphabet Series
Genre: mystery - private detective
Source: public library download

Unlike some writers who get boring and formulaic and whose writing deteriorates as a series progresses, Sue Grafton continues to delight with fresh plots, well-developed characters, and excellent writing.  In this episode, many of the auxiliary characters we have come to love have very small parts: Henry, Rosie, and William put in only cameo or background appearances.  The story centers around Kinsey's inadvertent witnessing of a shoplifting, and the perpetrator's subsequent questionable suicide.  Hired by the decedent's "fiancĂ©" to prove it was not a suicide, Kinsey suddenly finds the situation dissolving into a very sticky mess, involving a big-hearted loan shark, dirty cops, stereotypical big brawn small brained thugs, unhappily married couples, etc etc. All the players stories come together to produce an ending that  many readers may not be pleased with, and frankly, I'm not sure the resolution is one I feel morally ok with, but given the choices, Grafton's denouement  is solid and convincing.

Grafton has several different points of view running concurrently, a fairly new device for her writing, and she does it well.  In addition to watching Kinsey's investigation, we watch the lives of  one of the "bad guys" and another story line of one of the disaffected spouses and see how their actions and emotions influence what happens as the story progresses.  I haven't read one of these in awhile, and I don't remember previous volumes being quite this involved.  The story line while complex, flows well and Judy Kaye continues to do a great narrating job to keep us listening to the audio (in fact I took the long way home today just so I could finish one of the discs.)

In this series, "V" is every bit as good as "A" was. In fact, if I had time, I'd love to start this series over from the beginning and read them again.  For new readers, the best part is that they can be read as stand alones and there's no need to feel you need to go back to the beginning.  Grab any of them, and be prepared to meet a smart, sassy, level headed private investigator who is one of my favorite characters.  She knows when to involve the police, when to say "no" to stupidity, and generally shows us a professional who generally doesn't participate in activities beyond her scope.  A great way to start the New Year.


  1. Can't wait to get this one. I hope I live long enough as I'm # 169 on the library hold list!!! Sheeesh.

  2. Ithink I might enjoy the audio of her books more than the paper copies, which I find lag a bit with too much of her personal life as a diversion from the mystery. But the chattiness of the audio might be a good way to read her books.

  3. I love this series; can hardly wait to read "V."

  4. wow, you make me think I gave up on this series too soon. so many little time.


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