I come from a reading family. My Mom (may she rest in peace) and Dad both read, but I think my brother, Marc (may he rest in peace), sister, Dee, and I, have been a little more obsessive about it. As anyone who has ever been enthralled by a book, growing up, we talked to each other about the books that captured our imagination. Dee is the one that got me hooked on Sue Grafton and her Alphabet Mystery series.
For years, I have read the books as I received them in no particular order. As one of my 2021 New Year’s resolutions, I decided that I would read several series in order to clean up some of the things that have been on my Kindle for years. My TBR (to be read) queue is ridiculous. (I am “The Mustache Louie Matos” on Goodreads if you want to follow me there.) I will probably never read everything I have in my library, but this series is doable in a year if I read two novels per month.
For Women’s Empowerment Month, the Beard and I, decided that we were going to promote female- character-centric properties. The Sue Grafton novels are about Kinsey Millhone, a fictional private investigator with a strong personality and a penchant for mixing it up with villainous criminals that want to do her harm.
Kinsey has been married and divorced twice without the urgent need to do that again. She has a smart aleck wit that cuts like a rapier. She is sarcastic and a self-professed liar. She has to lie in her line of work, she believes.
Her parents died in a car accident when she was five-years-old. She was in the car when it happened, and only remembers hearing her mother weeping as she passed. She was raised by an aunt that believed in independent self-sufficiency. From Auntie Gin, Kinsey learned many unique skills such as changing a tire, fixing things around the house, and how to fire a gun. She wears the traits learned from her aunt, like a badge of honor. She does not need a man.
Kinsey is a former Santa Teresa police officer. During her two years on the force, she learned that wearing a badge was not for her. She went to work for the same insurance company Aunt Gin worked for, becoming an investigator for California Fidelity. She was mentored by a couple of private investigators and eventually she decided to strike out on her own.
Kinsey is a diminutive 5’6″ tall and weighs 118 pounds. Although she eats a lot of junk food. She exercises every weekday, running at least three miles on most occasions. She is 32, and has short dark hair that she cuts herself. She is really not all that concerned with her physical appearance, although she has a big preoccupation with teeth as a measure of health and sexual compatibility. She dresses mostly in jeans and turtlenecks, although she keeps a wrinkle-free black dress for all occasions.
Kinsey lives in a small studio apartment converted from a single-car garage. Her landlord is a gentleman octogenarian that is a retired pastry chef that creates pun-filled crossword puzzles. Henry Pitts is the closest she will ever come to having a father. The closest thing she has to a Mom is a heavyset Hungarian tavern owner named Rosie who occasionally feeds Kinsey, but funnily does not allow her to look on the menu. She tells Kinsey what she will be eating. “Today, you will eat an x stew with a side of y and a w bread with v wine. If you eat everything on your plate, I might give you z for dessert.”
A is for Alibi is the first of the Kinsey Millhone novels. In this first installment, we get acquainted with some of the characters in Kinsey’s orbit. Here, the story revolves around a woman convicted of killing her husband, but after serving eight years she’s released and hires Kinsey to find out who actually murdered her husband. Of course, the murder happened eight years ago and trying to dredge up history is never easy, but if it were easy everyone would want to do it. Extremely cool, with a dash of noir, a dose of estrogen, and a splash of tinnitus.
Beverly Danziger is a wealthy socialite that needs to find her sister. She hires Kinsey to find her. When Kinsey recommends that Danziger involve the police, Danziger tells Kinsey to stop investigating. Instead of ceasing further action, it causes Kinsey to pursue the mystery further, which places Kinsey right in the crosshairs of a burglar, who might just be an assassin, as well. Engrossingly fun.
One of the awesome things about Kinsey Millhone is that she is treated as a real person by Grafton. She may talk tough and actually be tough, but she is vulnerable too. In an early book, Kinsey is forced to fire her gun to protect herself from the imminent threat of the murderer. She carries on as if nothing has happened, but several books later she has a post-traumatic flash that reels her. Upon reading this, I said, of course, it does not matter that the person was going to kill her. It HAS to affect her; brilliant writing.
Needless to say, I want to keep these brief, but I will definitely keep you all up-to-date on how the Kinsey Millhone exploration is going with later Reading Sanctums. If you liked what you read please press the LIKE button. If you have not subscribed, please do so. Until next time, see you!