Book Review: M is for Malice by Sue Grafton (4/5)

Genre: Fiction, Detective

Copyright: 1996

Yeah, yeah, I know, this book is 17 years old. The library at which I work has a whole row of Grafton’s books. I’ve always been interesting in the alphabet system she used. It’s catchy.

I picked this book because I needed something to read over my lunch break. I thought that if I didn’t like it, I’d put it back. Well, I checked it out and finished it.

I like a good murder mystery. This book follows another adventure of private detective Kinsey Millhone. She’s hired to track down a long-lost brother who stands to inherit a large portion of his deceased father’s estate. When one of the brothers turns up murdered, time is ticking to find the answers.

This book, while entertaining, read so much slower than books written today. There is more narration that I thought necessary, however none of it felt forced. The narrator, Kinsey, has a sassy, friendly tone that kept me reading.

The murder didn’t occur until about halfway through the book. I’m not kidding. This book is 300 pages long. He died on page 165. I, personally, would have liked more mystery solving and less narration of her life and her friends which didn’t seem to add anything to the story, like her landlord who wrote crossword puzzles. His only purpose seemed to be to fill space. When Kinsey started to investigate the murder, the pace sped up. The last half flew by.

There never seemed to be a real threat to Kinsey as she’s solving this murder. She received a threatening letter (written on a typewriter), but besides that, no one is getting in the way. There’s no villain, I guess is what I’m saying.

My only real beef with this book comes in the form of the strange “supposedly” supernatural moments that didn’t make any sense to me. Kinsey, while snooping in one of the rooms in the house while no one is looking, feels a tremor. She goes downstairs, but the housekeeper apparently didn’t feel anything. Am I supposed to believe that this was some kind of otherworldly event? I like down-to-earth and logic in my murder mysteries.

I found it interesting that instead of googling someone, Kinsey went to the courthouse to check physical records. People used typewriters in this book! And payphones.

This book felt like stepping back in time, but it was still an enjoyable read. That’s why it got a 4 out of 5.

This book is also a lesson in reading widely. That doesn’t mean just reading outside of your genre, but also reading from all periods of time. There’s a lot of meat in the classics.


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