Review of ‘W Is for Wasted’ by Sue Grafton

W-Is-for-WastedSue Grafton, W Is for Wasted (New York: Putnam, 2013). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

To be honest, I don’t remember how I learned about Sue Grafton’s series of Kinsey Millhone mysteries or when I first read them. I do know this, however: I’ve read them all and loved every one. I typically start and finish a novel within a 24-hour period. For me, any mystery that keeps me turning pages is a good mystery. By that standard, the latest installment in Grafton’s long-running series is a good mystery.

In W Is for Wasted, Kinsey learns about two murders: a distant relative she never knew and a fellow private investigator she never trusted. Some of the action takes place in Bakersfield, California, in the late 1980s, but most of it takes place in Kinsey’s hometown of Santa Teresa, California—a fictionalized version of Santa Barbara. (Having lived in Santa Barbara, it’s fun plotting Grafton’s place and street names onto the real things.)

As Kinsey investigates the first murder—and gets drawn into the investigation of the second—she befriends the homeless, antagonizes the wealthy, makes frenemies of newfound family members, interacts with old flames, and even takes a shine to her neighbor Henry’s new cat, Ed. If you’ve read the other books in Grafton’s series, you’ll appreciate the evolution of her character. If not, you’ll enjoy the mystery as it slowly unfolds.

One recommendation, though: If you’ve never read any of the other books in this series, do yourself a favor and start with A Is for Alibi. If you like that one, work your way up to W Is for Wasted in alphabetical order. Each book stands on its own, of course, but the real payoff is to read the series.


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