Tuesday, March 8, 2011
K Is For Kinsey
With the late Robert B. Parker's Spenser series about to grind to a halt, I've been looking for another long-running mystery series to immerse myself into. Nothing too avant garde, too self-consciously "literary", or anything like that... I just wanted another no-nonsense, long-running series with a main character I can get to know as I move through each installment. So I decided to try out Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone Alphabet mysteries (at least the first one), that for one reason or another I've never dove into before.
So far, so good. A Is For Alibi is a straightforward mystery that doesn't try to re-invent the wheel, just taking us through a murder investigation in a methodical, compelling manner. It's basically 32 year-old P.I. Kinsey Millhone interviewing one person after another about an old murder, trying to see if the person originally convicted of the crime (Kinsey's client) actually did it or not.
It's not like a Spenser book where there's an occasional fistfight or shootout or scary threat by someone who doesn't want the murder investigated any further. No, there's really no danger or action at all until the closing pages, when Kinsey finally figures things out. But all that is okay. I found it refreshing that Sue Grafton doesn't try too hard to entertain us with flash and sizzle, and trusts that the cumulative facts of the investigation will keep us turning the pages. And they do. Hey, I like scenes of action and danger as much as the next person, but I liked the different approach taken here.
Is the book nothing but the investigation? No, we get a couple of quirky supporting characters, some humorous banter and observation, and even a romance for Kinsey. But, again, I liked that the story confidently kept these things as occasional supporting elements and let the case take precedence. It'll be interesting to see if future installments maintain that balance.
So, yes, B Is For Burglar is definitely on the horizon for me. Make no mistake, I'm still going to greatly miss new adventures in Robert Parker's Spenser, Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall, and Hitch & Cole series, but jumping aboard this (so far) interesting little series with its tough, not always likable, but ultimately sympathetic heroine will make things a little easier for this mystery fan.
A Is For Alibi is available on Kindle for $7.99.