Friday, October 4, 2019

Book Review: "O" is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #15)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and mystery
Cons: All cons have been outlawed
The Bottom Line:
Case from Kinsey’s past
Captivates from the first page
Another great book

Mystery from Kinsey’s Past

Fans of the Kinsey Millhone series know that she has been married twice.  In an early book in the series, we met her second ex-husband.  However, we’ve never gotten to learn much about her first marriage or husband.  That changes with the fifteenth book in the series, “O” is for Outlaw.

Kinsey is surprised to get a phone call from a guy claiming he found some of her stuff in an abandoned storage locker.  Intrigued, Kinsey heads out to meet him.  It’s mostly old school papers and projects, and Kinsey figures they must have been things she left behind when she moved out before divorcing Mickey.  Among those things is some mail – it’s mostly junk, but she finds a letter to her in the stack.

Reading the letter shocks Kinsey.  It sheds new light on her marriage to Mickey and the events that led to her leaving him fourteen years before.  As Kinsey begins to hunt for Mickey to learn exactly what happened, she also begins to look into the murder that lead to her leaving Mickey.  Will she learn the truth about what happened all those years ago?

I will admit that I had figured that Kinsey’s first marriage was just some character background, and I wasn’t that curious out this part of her past – until I started this book.  It didn’t take long before I was very intrigued about what happened all those years ago.  We get the background we need fairly early in the book, but it is presented in an intriguing way without feeling like it is slowing down the story.

Frankly, nothing slows down this story.  I was hooked from the beginning, and I never felt like things lagged.  We were constantly getting new information either from the past or the present that compelled us forward to find the truth.  Yes, the past is our ticket into the story, but the past is influencing the present, and the two are balanced perfectly to keep us engaged the entire time.  The ending wraps things up well and answers our questions.

This series has never been super strong from a supporting character standpoint.  Yes, there are some regulars in Kinsey’s life, but we only see a couple of them here.  Honestly, I felt like we got more time with the regulars in the last book in the series, and we spent most of the book out of Kinsey’s native Santa Teresa.  Not that I’m complaining because the few scenes we do get with the people in Kinsey’s life are always well worth it.  Kinsey herself is a strong enough character to keep us engaged in the story, and the growth we see as a result of what she learns here is wonderful as always.

I’m also not complaining because the new characters are fully alive and draw us into the story.  I know I have praised Sue Grafton’s ability to craft characters in the past, but I have to repeat myself.  We know these people as soon as they pop onto the page.  It really is remarkable.

I have finally reached the new narrator on the audio books.  I’m not going to lie; I did miss Mary Pfeiffer.  I’ve been with her for fourteen books, and her take on Kinsey and company is what I’ve gotten used to.  That isn’t to discount Judy Kaye as a narrator at all.  It wasn’t too long before I was buying her as Kinsey, which is important since this is a first-person narrated book.  Some of the voices she used for characters sounded good, but some of them felt a little cartoony to me.  This was especially true for the men in the story.  However, I grew accustomed to it as the book progressed, and I’m sure I won’t have any trouble with her narrating as I get further into her books in the series.

“O” is for Outlaw will certainly captivate Kinsey’s many fans as they learn just a bit more about her past.  Even if you are new to the series, you’ll be quickly hooked on this story as well and ready to spend more time with Kinsey.

Need more time with Kinsey?  Here are the rest of the Kinsey Millhone Mysteries in order.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten books.

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