Monday, 5 December 2011

O is for Outlaw

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This book, written by Sue Grafton, belongs to a series of ‘alphabet mystery’ books. I had already read one of them before, “T is for Trespass”, and I have chosen this one because I thought it was a chance to read an original version by an author that  I really like. Sue Grafton is a popular female crime writer who started the ‘alphabet’ novels with the letter A after her own divorce and she confesses that Kinsey, the main character, is her alter ego.
This time, the plot is set in 1986 in Santa Teresa, the California home of Kinsey Millhone, who is a private investigator and was a cop during two years in the early 1970s. One day she receives a call from a storage space scavenger in Olvidado, who sells her a box of her own memorabilia for twenty bucks. The things belonged to her first ex-husband, Mickey Magruder, a former vice cop who had been evicted and, among the items inside the box, she finds an undelivered letter that had never been opened.
In the letter, her friend Dixie confessed to have an affair with Mickey and revealed that they were together the night Mickey was believed to have killed a drunkard after a bar fight, 13 years ago. Kinsey had refused to pass as Mickey’s alibi because she thought he was guilty and walked out. Now, after reading the letter, she discovers he was innocent and decides to track him down, but she finds he has been shot and is unconscious and under police protection in a hospital. She gets in contact with the police and, although she has been out of touch with him for years, she turns into the main suspect because of a call made from Mickey’s apartment. Then, curiosity drags her into an investigation that unearths secrets from her ex-husband’s past and present. As she comes closer to find Mickey’s shooter, she puts herself in serious danger.
I think Kinsey Millhone is a clever, loyal and tenacious woman who faces her past bravely in her struggle for justice, with the aim of repairing her unwitting mistakes and getting square with her ex-husband. It’s amazing how easy she can play invented characters and situations when she calls to get information without being indentified. I also like her next-door neighbor, named Harry, who is always worried about Kinsey, like a father.
In conclusion, this is a highly recommended installment. The plot is intriguing and it is impossible to predict how it would end. I recommend this gripping story which will hook you from the very first page. I am sure that I will read another of these original ‘alphabet’ novels soon.

Elena Rodríguez, Advanced level, Year 2

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