X is the twenty-fourth installment in Sue Grafton’s long-running Kinsey Millhone mysteries. Set in Santa Teresa, California—a lightly fictionalized Santa Barbara—the novel follows two story lines: Kinsey looking for a client’s long-lost son and trying to close out a late colleague’s still-open case. There’s also a contretemps with her annoying, elderly neighbors.
I am a huge fan of this series, having read each of the novels in order, beginning with A Is for Alibi. Patrick Anderson has written, “Grafton’s Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.” I agree. Kinsey is likeable, whip-smart, and plucky. You cheer for her as she sees justice through in each case.
That said, X is the best novel of the series. (I wonder if it has to do with the difficulty of finding a suitable crime to include in the title. The other novels follow the A Is for Alibi title formula. Here, there’s no X Is for _____.) It opens with one story line but spends the bulk of the novel focused on the other story line. The lines never come together, and the annoying neighbors seem like a distraction too. The neighbors get what’s coming to them in the end, but of the two major storylines, only one reaches a satisfactory resolution.
X may not be the best novel in the series, but it’s always good to hear from Kinsey. I’m already looking forward to Y.
P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.