Friday, February 1, 2008

I Wish I Were Kinsey Millhone

Sue Grafton writes the perfect private investigator crime novels. Her character, Kinsey Millhone, is tough, intelligent, sneaky, has a damaged past and a slightly skewed moral compass, yet has strong feelings about right and wrong. That said, Kinsey kicks bad-guy butt! I'm wouldn't want to mess with her, and yet, there are people who still do. Man, hasn't her reputation gotten around yet?

"T is for Trespass" is another edition of Kinsey's detective adventures and it is just as delightful as the previous alphabetical novels. Nay, dare I say, it was even better? The books are like her reports that Kinsey writes as she wraps up a case, all told in the first person and with her comments and thoughts as she describes what happened. In "Trespass", Grafton changes her style just a bit by adding chapters from the villain's point of view. Oh goodness, is she a nasty villain too. A identity-stealing, elder-abusing sociopath of grand proportions. What is even scarier is that people like this exist in the world.

One of the unique aspects of the Kinsey Millhone books is that Ms. Grafton wrote them starting in the 80's and hasn't sped up Kinsey's timeline to keep up with us right now. So even though "Trespass" is book number twenty in this series, it's still in the 80's for Kinsey. She doesn't have a cell phone or computer and she has to drive everywhere to get information. Look up things at the courthouse. On paper. Talk to people face to face. I know, it seems so foreign to me too. One part that made me laugh out loud in the book was when Kinsey is interviewing a witness who builds computer systems for companies. She asks out of curiosity how much it would cost to get her going on one and he tells her ten thousand dollars. He promises that in a few decades, they'll run the world and ten-year-olds will be savvy on them. She laughs it off. Ah, Kinsey, how little you know.

Kinsey is such a fun character to read about because Ms. Grafton doesn't show us exactly who she is up front. We get to discover her bit by bit, just like you would a crochety neighbor or secretive friend. Out of all her books, the first one is my least favorite. I can't remember why, but I do remember that I had to talk myself into reading the second book (they are in alphabetical order: A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc. I don't know what that really has to do with the character or why Grafton did this, but it makes it easy to figure out which books you haven't read yet) and being happy I did. I have a fascination with sneakiness and villains. Snap, I just had an epiphany that explains my five-year-old's behavior! She inherited my sneaky-evil gene! Shoot! I didn't know that could be passed down! Now I'll understand it when she reads "Harriet the Spy", memorizes Ursula the Sea Witch's song, hides in the closet to scare her sisters and develops an evil cackle. It does explain why she loves Ramona and hates Beezus...

What was I writing about? Let's see, uh, yes. Kinsey's cool. And she drives a Volkswagon Bug. Well, she used to, anyway. Now she drives a Mustang for "Trespass", but I kind of miss the Bug. In conclusion, read the book, but cover your eyes when she fights the bad guy's son at the end. Shudder.


  1. My mom has all of Sue Grafton books, and for some reason I've never read them. It will be nice to get hooked on another author's books! And it's easy to know which order to go in without checking the inside cover of each one to make sure I haven't missed one. Kinsey Millhone sounds like my kind of gal.

  2. Aaagh! Another set of books to read! So little time to do it all too. I guess I just have to spend less time blogging and more time reading... Nah. I'm excited to go to these books next time I'm not sure what to get at the library.

  3. Hi Sneaky Red,
    I like Kinsey too. She is a lot of fun. If you want another heroine like her, but with perhaps a more skewed moral compass, the Stephanie Plum books are a lot of fun. She is a bounty hunter, and has two guys that she just can't make up her mind over. Ranger is mysterious, sexy, and scary... the other is a police homicide detective that she grew up with that is also mysterious, sexy, and in his own way scary......he wants to marry her, but she would have to give up bounty hunting.... lots of fun.

    I have read 'R is for Richocet' (sp) and it was good. Dottie has read them all if you want to borrow some, she has a zillion.

  4. I have to be difficult and disagree with Sailor. If you have read one Stephanie Plum you have read them all. Kinsey continues to be interesting and "new".

  5. I will suspend judgement on Kinsey's 'newness' until I have read them all. I can't be difficult, and have to agree that you pretty much know in general terms what will happen in a SP book.

    But you find this in a lot of books. People like the recipe and they buy the next one. Louis Lamour, Author Conan Doyle, Chris Heimerdinger, Back to the Future 1,2,3, Star Trek, The Cat who... books, Sweetie Pie Brown cat books..... it's a long list. Full of satisfied readers.