August Murders: Reading Sanctum #13 Kinsey Millhone (C through F)

Hello, Everyone. Persistent followers of the blog are aware that this year I have undertaken a reading goal of beginning and completing several series. I have not yet documented many of my successes or failures, because there is still time for all of those series sitting on my TBR (to be read) bookshelves.

I did, however, write a Reading Sanctum #11 in March (Women’s Empowerment Month) where I gave a brief history of Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s detective in the Alphabet Series. Over the course of my life, I have owned and read various books of the series as they were acquired. I have Obsessive Compulsive tendencies, so reading these books in order was always on my Bucket List.

I have found that I’m not the only bibliophile that has endeavored to do what I am doing. There are LOTS of Kinsey Millhone fans. In my Reading Sanctum #11 I also reviewed the novels: A is for Alibi and B is for Burglar. In order not to be redundant, I would refer you to that post. Here I will begin with C is for Corpse. I thought that during August Murders would be the perfect time to check in with Kinsey Millhone. These and all of my reviews are posted on my Goodreads bookshelves by year. I invite you to be a friend there. This is my Sue Grafton shelf:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/74023053-the-mustache-louie-matos?shelf=author-s-grafton

C is for Corpse was Sue Grafton’s third book in her signature alphabet series starring the singular private detective Kinsey Milhone. In this third installment, Kinsey is hired by a young man injured in a car accident that he believes was an attempted murder. The young man, Bobby Callahan, has certain recollections while others are clouded by amnesia which makes her investigation that much more difficult. Then, three days after Bobby hires Kinsey, he is killed in another accident and rather than be discouraged by so few leads, she redoubles her efforts.

One of the great things about Kinsey is that Grafton infuses her with fallible characteristics. She is not perfect. Her instincts are good, but sometimes she is hard-nosed and standoffish to a fault. There are other times when she is overly sensitive and you know that it won’t end well. This story is one where she is so sensitive to Bobby’s story that it almost costs her. IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) Grafton really hits her stride in this novel.

Here, Kinsey is tasked with the relatively simple assignment of delivering a check to a teenager. Kinsey is dubious about the ease of completion, but because the rent is due, she accepts the retainer. When the check bounces, she is annoyed and goes after her client who is later found floating off the Santa Teresa shore. His name was John Daggett, a thoroughly despised deadbeat, but when Daggett’s daughter hires Kinsey to find the murderer, Kinsey realizes that not only is she already involved, but she is knee deep in suspects. This is one of the best so far.

What seems so great to me about this novel is how Kinsey seems to again take to a young man who is her junior in age, extremely troubled, and suffering from overt emotional issues. Kinsey not only empathizes, but feels kinship with these characters that appear lost. Kinsey acts motherly to this child that needs mothering although she is not a mother nor does she WANT to be a mother. She’s an emotional brick, or she would have everyone believe. She is afterall a noir detective. So what if she cracks wise every now and then.

E is for Evidence gives the reader an opportunity to see Grafton’s singular private investigator Kinsey Millhone in an atypical situation where she has to investigate on her own behalf. Kinsey finds that she has an extra $5000 in her bank account. Normally, that would result in a joyous celebration, but this is not the case when someone is trying to set you up, making you look guilty of taking payoffs as an insurance investigator which she occasionally does as payment for office space. Kinsey winds up finding herself mixed up in a squabble involving a childhood friend’s family and her ex-husband is involved too!

Much of Kinsey’s background is cloaked in shadow. She is generally focused on looking forward, but many of the novels take what is just a one-line aspect of her history and amplify them in light of her current investigation. As it is with most of us, our past sometimes breaks into our current situations in ways that are sometimes shattering and other times edifying. Kinsey has two ex-husbands and in this novel, we meet one. Top-notch story that gives the reader a strong sense of Kinsey’s “explosive” past.

 In F is for Fugitive Kinsey has been hired to investigate a 17-year-old murder case that involves a felon, Bailey Fowler, convicted of the crime, who a year after being convicted walked out of the prison, was a fugitive for over a decade, and has been caught once again. Bailey’s father is convinced his son did not commit the crime (of course). He hires Kinsey to investigate the 17-year-old case in the hopes that she can exonerate Bailey, but Bailey continues to behave like a guilty suspect and Bailey’s parents are both terminally ill.

This novel is one of the more intimate ones as Kinsey leaves her usual stomping grounds of Santa Teresa for Floral Beach to stay in a hotel with a family that is so dysfunctional that she longs for a return to orphan-hood. The characters are dead on point. The murderer is not an erratic psychological mess, but a logical person that I believe is probably the best chance most people will have to figure out whodunnit. Still and all, a very enjoyable read.

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! Thanks for reading our content!

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