TURNING THE PAGES – S is for Silence

As a holiday gift, my husband kindly bought the next installment in a series I’ve been enjoying for years. S is for Silence is the next in Sue Grafton’s series about private detective Kinsey Millhone. In this nineteenth volume in the series, Grafton tries something a little different.

The Kinsey Millhone series is set in the fictional town of Santa Theresa, California, where Miss Millhone has her office and her one-car-garage-turned-apartment. This book is no exception to that rule. What Grafton has done here for the first time in the series is introduce a series of flashbacks as clues for the reader.

Personally, while I enjoyed the flashbacks as short stories and glimpses into the events that happened thirty-four years before Kinsey opened her investigation, I found it hard to keep track of what Kinsey did and didn’t know about the original events surrounding the disappearance she was investigating. When the end of the book came, it was not easy to determine whether I’d been given enough information to figure out the who-dunnit on my own, or if Grafton had pulled what I call a ‘Scooby-Doo’ (because, in the Scooby-Doo TV series, the writers never gave the audience a fair shot at figuring out the culprit’s identity and in their final exposition, the characters always referred to events and clues that the audience had never seen — totally unfair!).

Despite what I took as a lack of her usual clarity, Grafton still manages to deliver a fun read. As I’m still unsure if she was “?playing fair’ or not, I’ll have to re-read the book, eventually, to confirm or correct my first impression. If that’s what she was aiming for, an audience with a reason to pick the book up more than once, she was certainly successful.

The other novels in this series vary in quality, but I’d recommend them anyway. I enjoy a good mystery once in a while. It’s something else to think about and focus on that requires brain power, besides the inevitable school work and I’ve never felt that Grafton seriously let me down. It’s not hard to identify the books in this particular series. They are referred to as her abecedarian series because of their titles, each of which begins with a letter of the alphabet. There is no need to begin with A is for Alibi and work your way through to the end though. That will put them in chronological order, but each novel stands pretty well on its own.

I do, however, idly wonder whether Grafton will stop after the 26th installment of this series, or if she has a plan to continue past ‘z’. If she does, what would it be? Double letters? Numbers? Punctuation marks?

This book is worth borrowing from the library, but I wouldn’t buy it in hardcover unless you need to have the complete set. Wait for the paperback before you purchase.

Grafton, S. (2005). S is for Silence. Kinsey Millhone Mysteries. New York: Penguin.

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