Wednesday, October 7, 2015


25052867 Kinsey Millhone, mystery, private detective

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X:  The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.
 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.
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.
Kinsey seems a little bit different in this 24th installment of her alphabet series. She says sh*t more frequently and she's grumpier than ever before which is IMHO a good thing because eventually it worked well for her and her landlord Henry. She also is funnier, showing a lot of her sense of humor. I'll miss Kinsey when the series comes to an end. Yes, only 2 more to go, Y and Z.

Spoilers ahead

I usually give Sue Grafton's alphabet books 3 stars. I find X a more enjoyable read regardless of all the repetitious "telling" everything Kinsey does - wakes up, brushes teeth, puts on jogging pants, jogs, walks to apartment/office, makes coffee, walks to car, drive, etc., and too many pee references. These daily activities annoy some readers but I ignore them. Honestly, I skipped some of the long-ish narrations and as a result, I was able to thoroughly like the novel.

There are 2 cases she is handling plus a problem concerning Henry and his new neighbors. She does thorough investigations for the first 2, travelling by car, staking out places, and interviewing people, and just a little for the third.

The first case at first appears to be a very simple job: locating a young man that the client, divorcée Teddy Xanakis, claims is a son she gave birth to at age 15 and given up for adoption. Kinsey discovers it isn't the case and becomes a mediator/bridge for the divorced couple. The Xanakises have a happy ending.

The second case is darker and more sinister, related to the previous book, W Is For Wasted, whence a colleague was shot and killed. The murder was never solved. Kinsey inherits the investigation the murdered guy was looking at and she is almost killed by the psychopath who unfortunately got away at the end of the novel. He will probably be in the next book, Y Is For __.

I like that his elderly landlord Henry is prominent in the book. He's entertaining while attending to his water consumption problems and helping Kinsey solve the cryptic/coded paper the murdered colleague left behind. Being a words and numbers puzzle enthusiast myself, I find Henry smart and endearing. Such a sweetie.

Highly recommended for Sue Grafton's alphabet series fans.

You'll notice that while all of the books are titled A Is For Alibi, B Is For Burglar, X is just X which as the book description says, may mean different things.

The first X that appears is Teddy Xanakis. Other Xs appear: the name of the supposed to be son given up for adoption, Christian, as in Xian although it is never written with X, Kinsey marks the lid of a banker's box among the dead guy's things with an X. I started bookmarking and writing down the Xs that materialize throughout the book, just because. I was looking out for 10 which is X in Roman numerals, or 24, for the 24th letter of the alphabet. I found more than 10 but short of 24 Xs.

Xanakis - Teddy and Ari
Xian (Christian)
lid of banker's box marked with an X
Superbowl XXII
The Bank of X. Phillips
X of a trellis
X indicating "You are here" in a hotel
Father Xavier
XOXOXOX (from a card written by a mom to her child)
XLNT Portage - name of Ari Xanakis's business
table napkin with X initial

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