Thursday, February 23, 2006

S is for Silence by Sue Grafton

Wow. This book was great! Nineteen titles into the "alphabet mystery" series, Grafton still knows how to tell a great story. In this installment, Kinsey Millhone, my favourite feisty, gun-toting, no-nonsense PI, is hired by Daisy Sullivan, who is still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her mother over thirty years earlier. As Kinsey follows the very cold trail of this case, she starts digging up dirt from the 1950s and makes a lot of people in a small California town very nervous.

Setting aside the similarity to R is for Ricochet, which is also about Kinsey trying to solve an old mystery about a missing woman in a small California town, I found it remarkable that Sue Grafton can keep her writing fresh this far into a series. This book has something she hasn't tried before, "flashback" chapters that bring the reader back to the day when Violet Sullivan disappeared back in 1953, each told from the point of view of a different character. This technique is very effective at bringing the people and events of the 1950s to life, without detracting from the careful building up of suspense as the present-day sleuthing takes place. I found myself wandering around with this book in my hand all day, trying to avoid taking my eyes off the pages while I did other things; it was that gripping.

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