ARC Review: X by Sue Grafton

by Sue Grafton
Series:Kinsey Millhone #24
Published byPenguin on August 25th 2015
Genres:Mystery & Detective
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
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Of #1 New York Times–bestselling author Sue Grafton, NPR’s Maureen Corrigan said, “Makes me wish there were more than 26 letters.” With only two letters left, Grafton’s many devoted readers will share that sentiment.X: The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.X: The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.X: The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.

*I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

Set in the 1980s, X brings the reader into Kinsey’s world again to experience her old-school investigative techniques and interactions with fascinating characters. I’ll admit that this is the first book I have read by Sue Grafton. It is clear she is a master at what she does. The writing is compelling and skilled. I was very impressed with Grafton’s word choices. She has an incredible vocabulary. I don’t usually run into words I don’t know, but in X there were several I had to look up.

I appreciated that Kinsey identified herself in the first chapter, so I didn’t have to wonder who was narrating. I also appreciated that Grafton gives the reader enough information to be able to jump right into the series like I did.You don’t need to read the previous books to understand what is happening.

This book was different from many books that I have read, in that it wasn’t easy to figure out what the main goal was. Several problems are introduced early on, but they didn’t seem to be very pressing or dangerous. At 18%, Kinsey is asked what’s going on, and she says, “Nothing much to report.” That pretty much sums up how I felt throughout the first quarter of the book. It didn’t seem like there was anything to report, not much was happening. Or, so it seemed. Much later in the story, it becomes apparent how everything fit together.

Although I felt like the story moved painfully slow, I can’t blame all of that on the author. I think it’s partly because of the differences between mysteries and thrillers. I’m used to stories with lots of danger and action. In a thriller, the protagonist is being targeted; it’s the other way around in a mystery. A mystery, like X, is more about figuring something out than about avoiding danger. It makes sense that it would be slower. Since I am accustomed to thrillers, my expectations are basically wrong. Therefore, I’m not going to let pace influence my star rating.

As I said before, Kinsey does interact with interesting people. I did feel like I was being drawn into Kinsey’s world. I thought all of the characters were developed well. Kinsey was a likable main character. She was dedicated to her job and her friends. The villains were interesting as well. Some turned out to be not as villainous as they appeared.

One other thing I enjoyed about X was that there was a moral to the story. I don’t see this much anymore, so it was easy to spot and very refreshing.

As a whole, the book made a lot of sense once I read the entire thing. I would recommend it to people who like mysteries. I felt like the story was more about the people than it was about the events. If you like books where you really get pulled into the main character’s world, her friends, her acquaintances, and her investigation, you should read X by Sue Grafton.

 

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