Monday, June 23, 2008

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

I've read all of the Alphabet Mysteries by Sue Grafton. The first one I got free with a magazine and was hooked. I love her main character Kinsey Millhone and have reviewed and raved about her before. She's a single, independant, strong-willed, and very clever Private Investigator.

I've felt the last few books haven't had the oomph that the earlier books had. You have to wonder if back in the beginning Grafton signed a 26 book contract and is now kicking herself for having to be tied to the same character for so many years. I worry she is getting bored. Please don't get bored.

T is for Trespass wasn't the easiest read at the beginning. There was an unusual amount of back story. Now, Grafton often has to put back story because she's often referring to things that happened in earlier books, but this time she put an annoying amount of back story in, and at weird times. I think Grafton even thought Kinsey's mental wandering was frustrating because at one point after a long and action interrupting flashback she says something along the lines of, 'that long flashback, for all its detail about being a proud orphan, only lasted long enough for me to take the stairs to where the real action is'.

This book was slow in the beginning. Really slow. Kinsey is dealing with multiple cases; serving eviction notices for a slum lord, investigating a car crash for a lawsuit and interviewing witnesses and helping her grouchy neighbor Gus who's been injured in a fall and needs home help. The grouchy neighbor ends up falling victim to a woman who has stolen the identity of a real nurse and has a history of milking the elderly dry of all their savings and assets and then killing them.

Once we get past the flashbacks and setting up of the stories and challenges for Kinsey, the flow gets much better and soon I wasn't paying attention to the turning of ages and passing of time. Reading happily and engrossed enough to force myself to sleep at 2am. The pace gets very exciting and there's a thrill to see who will outwit who, Evil "Nurse" or Kinsey. It's a safe bet who wins though. Oh, and icky way to dispatch of one's enemies there, uh, Kinsey. Death by Mustang. Nice. No really I'm not giving much away with that.

My problem, my niggly problem with this book are the loose ends and frustrating moments where I was saying, "This is where you should call the police." But she doesn't. Not even the level headed confidant Henry thinks the right time to call the police was twelve pages ago. And there's this bit where Nursie manages to get control of Gus's estate via legal means orchestrated by her brother and nothing is ever mentioned about him again. Evil Nursie's Brother the Bad Lawyer - ok his bit in this story is about 5 pages so I'm not sure if he's bad or stupid - is essentially abetting this fraud and nothing is ever mentioned about him again. So I must have missed something there because it's not like Grafton to leave a loose end. Or maybe it's just me who thought the Brother should've had another mention. There was a lot of set up about Evil Nursie's past including her mother, many step-siblings etc. Finally, she ends chapters with ominous hooks that take me out of the now and is the physical equivalent of tripping upstairs. like "I hung up feeling satisfied with the job I'd just done. What I had no way of knowing was that I'd just, unwittingly, put a noose around Gus Vronsky's neck." It's a mood killer. It's like a garlic burp while making out.

You know, now that I'm thinking about it, and I really should do these reviews the minute I finish a book or post-it mark the hell out the book while I read, Kinsey really bugged me in this book. She was so judgmental! She was jumping to conclusions and acting like, a hotshot. I was thinking, get over yourself, you smug cow and listen to folks for a change - what's wrong with you? Granted, it's a personality trait of hers to not be humble. But the bit where she was serving eviction notice on folks who'd not paid their rent to the slumlord, and were telling Kinsey about the awful state of the place, broken everything, nothing fixed and that they were holding out on payment - I would've expected her to say something like "Get a lawyer, contact so-and-so. I know the landlord guy's a dick, but I have my job to do. Good luck" But she was judging them as scum for living in a scummy way when really they'd had no choice. When it came time for Kinsey to get served with the TRO, I was cheering a bit because that was karma. I can see perfectly that this was how Grafton wanted me to think and feel, so she really is brilliant isn't she?

Two other things that struck me funny; when Kinsey was asked by another woman "Do you have kids" she replies with "Nope. Not entirely sure I'm the type." What?? Kinsey has always maintained a fierce no kids rule. This makes me think she's been wondering. She also has warm fuzzy feelings for her ex at one point that could just be booty-call feelings as opposed to an awakening biological clock (She is 37, after all and hormones are wicked things). The other was when Evil Nursie was describing Kinsey to us (How weird is that?) she says she has straight hair. Kinsey has never had straight hair. She's always had unruly curls that stick out all over and is why she cuts it with nail scissors. Have I been wrong about that too? Identifying myself with Kinsey and giving her my curls - actually I've always thought her hair was curlier than mine.

I look like a nitpicker now.

Also, when Kinsey needs to go to court to answer to the restraining order Nursie sets against her, I thought and hoped for a big court scene where Nursie pleads her case, and then Kinsey comes out and says that the restraining order is for Solana and thiswoman before you today is not Solana. This (enter real Solana) is the real Solana and this woman (points to Evil Nursie), your Honor, is a Faker! Then another woman stands up and says "She killed my Grandma!" and then the Brother stands up and says "How could you, You are dead to me now! Wait till I tell Dad." And then the gavel hits, and the police swarm in and arrest Evil Nursie who wails and cries her innocence immediately followed by hollow threats. Kinsey just smiles smugly and then treats everyone to QP's with cheese and a small fries. But I have watched an awful lot of Perry Mason. Actually, in my scenario, her son is still out there. He's an enormously fat, bad tempered, lazy, smelly "simple" guy.

As it goes, I did enjoy the story, much better than the last two which were a bit maudlin with a hint of preachy. This story gets right back to where Kinsey Millhone should be; pushing boundaries, testing limits and taking risks. I prefer the stories where she's dealing with her locals and even better when her distant relatives poke in as Kinsey's mental dialogues are fabulous. Looking forward to the next one.


jmc said...

Thanks for the review! I like Kinsey Milhone, but I've not been thrilled with the last couple of books, they felt a little stale.

Ree said...

I've never read a single one of these. I think I should start though, I really love the genre.

Shelia said...

I found nearly all of the books, so far, in a box being thrown away by a dumpster. I tried to start "A" but didn't get into it. I've kept them in hopes that when I get done reading all my others I have saved up, I'll read Kinsey's adventures.

Nora Roberts came out last month with #2 in the Blood Brothers Trilogy. "The Hollow" was really good and I can hardly wait for the next. It seems her stuff keeps getting darker and darker, but I'm okay with that. Less luvin and more drama.

I also found Eileen Dreyer and she's a trauma nurse in real life who writes mysteries. She has a different feel to her books I really like. Saints and Sinners is one I just finished and I went and bought every book she wrote that I could find in our local used book store. Check her out too!

Lyvvie said...

JMC - I felt it was a step in the right direction.

Ree - They are quick reads and you could get yourself up to T in no time.

Sheila - The first one I got was L and it was free in a magazine, so I had the luxury of a stack to get through and occupy myself with. Ree'll get even more. I've enjoyed the series. I like the one where she's undercover in the mob, but forget which one it was.

I'll wait until the third book comes out, then I can read all three at once. After JKRowling, I'm not keen to wait around for next in series stories. I'll look up Dreyer, though.