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Book Reviews

June, 2001

P is for Peril
Book cover, P is for Peril, a Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton, Festivale book reviews section
P is for Peril, (p/b, Pan MacMillan, )
Kinsey is back again with another alphabetised adventure. For the uninitiated, Kinsey is a thirty-something private eye who operates out of Santa Teresa, California. She is a loner, twice divorced, living in a garage wonderfully renovated by her elderly landlord.

The great thing about her adventures is that most of them are 'real' jobs. She is a working detective making ends meet and meeting all sorts of people on the way.

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In this adventure, Kinsey takes a missing person investigation against her better judgement. The referree for her new client -- the highly finished ex-wife of a prominent doctor -- is one of her past contacts, Dana Jaffe.

Kinsey's investigation follows her usual style: keep picking at the pieces until a thread comes loose, and then unravel it.

Graftons' style is typical of the best of crime writing, and especially of that now popular genre, female dicks by female writers. She gives her characters depth, especially Kinsey and her friends. The work is carefully researched, and realistically presented. So realistically in fact that a fan used the methods followed by Kinsey to seek out and find Grafton herself.

The sense of place and characterisation are important in crime stories as they are clues to the 'whodunit' and 'why'. For the fictional Santa Theresa, Grafton draws on the real-life Santa Barbara, and the details create a vivid sense of place.

Kinsey's world is the real world of daily chores, boring paperwork, obnoxious clients, outrageously eccentric friends and the cases are set against the backdrop of a life. They are smattered with ironic observations and enough human foibles to make Kinsey not only a person, but someone whose flaws give us all something to relate to.

For more Kinsey titles, see the Sue Grafton Series page

If you like Kinsey, you'll like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum , and Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski . For something a bit different, check out the Cat Who stories of Lillian Jackson Braun.

by Ali Kayn

See also: Sue Grafton book page for Kinsey Milhone

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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: Jun-2001: Last updated: 3-Jun-2001 : Last tested: 15-Jan-2009 : Last Compiled: 17-Dec-2015
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