* Prices may differ from that shown
It is possible that you may have read my book review on "A is For Alibi", which happens to be the prequel to this book in this Kinsey Millhone Mystery series. If you have I MUST mention that you may notice a few repetitions in this review due to the fact that I'll be writing down a few similar sections that may make you think: "I've read this before". So, if you reckon you have read the paragraph before or something similar, then you can carry on reading or you could skip that paragraph, but I must warn you that in doing so you may miss out some important bits!
Well, in my personal opinion, I did a really stupid thing when I came to read this book... This amazingly stupid thing was to read this sequel right after "A is for Alibi". Why is it a stupid thing to do? I hear you ask; well it's not that hard to explain, really! All the books start off in a similar way, one way or another, so it's possible that you could pick up the 3rd book without realising it's the third (how you go about doing such a thing, I'll never know, since it is in alphabetical order). This can get you really confused if you had previously read the prequel because you will still have the story line from the previous book swarming in your head, which may confuse you. As both books seem to have the same writing style and 1 main character that is followed through out the series (I presume), then it is pretty simple in bring the other characters from the previous book into this one. Accept they are not in this 2nd book and when you come to guessing the culprit you may select one of the characters from the previous story, which then leaves you confused and thinking that the book is weird. So how do I know all this? Well, I accidentally did exactly that, but I didn't name them as the culprit, oh no! I considered them and thought of reasons why they may have done this, though, I didn't realise, at the time, that they are characters from the previous story that I MUST forget about. TRUST ME, DO NOT do what I did and read this book straight after "A is for Alibi".
The book's author is Sue Grafton, someone I have not heard of before I read "A is for Alibi", so she is ANOTHER new author to me. She is well-known for these "Kinsey Millhone Mysteries", which I have to admit are amazing! She has done a few other stories in the early years of her career, but she currently is finishing this series. As it's an alphabetical series, that makes a total of 26 books in the series. So far 21 books have been published, so considering I have just recently read the 1st and 2nd books in the series, I may catch up, or maybe not. I think she is a great author, I have currently read this book + "A is for Alibi" (Read review if you haven't already), and I am expecting "C is for Corpse" pretty soon. I have the feeling that I cannot judge Sue Grafton's writing skills based on the fact that I have only read 2 books from her, but I do reckon she is a brilliant author, considering she gripped me to both book straight away.
Kinsey Millhone is a private detective; she is linked with the police in many different ways, some we have yet to establish. She is able to read the police records which help her in her investigations. We do not know a lot about her, which leaves a little mystery for us, which may be the reason why this book is so gripping!
Kinsey is approached by Beverly Danzinger who is looking for their sister, Elaine Boldt. She has been gone for ages now and cannot be found anywhere. Her trail leads her to Florida, where she meets Julia Ochsner, who is Elaine Boldt's neighbour in Florida, tells her she hasn't seen Elaine for a while, and that some mad woman named Pat Usher is currently living there. The plot thickens and Kinsey finds herself caught up in a dangerous case involving fire-raising, burglary and murder...
Kinsey Millhone is likeable (of course, she has to be as she is the person we follow), but there are a few characters that Sue Grafton has cleverly made. The two characters which shine out best are Pat Usher and Julia Ochsner. Julia is an old-aged woman (okay, so maybe I'm being a bit unfair considering there is a lot of people older than her, but Julia says that herself within the book!) She is extremely well loved and I couldn't stop laughing at the crazy-antics she can get up to, especially when she has a walking stick and hobbles a bit (people who's read this will know which bit I found hilarious). Pat Usher is completely the opposite. She is shifty and annoying and seems very unlikely to co-operate (but REMEMBER that's what the author wants you to believe). 2 opposite people being neighbours, that's clever for an author to create such opposites!
This book is blatantly a detective novel, as you may have already worked out. If you had asked me two years ago "Do you like detective novels?" I would have answered "No" and that would be the end of the VERY short conversation, now I'm older and expanding on the many variety of genres available. I first got into detective novels (as some of you may know) thanks to "The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler. I have admit, I wasn't too happy about getting a detective novel, but I HAD to read it as it was part of my AS (1st year of A Levels) coursework. And that was truly when I got into this genre. I believe that these 2 novels are one of the best found under the detective genre, because they are incredibly gripping and focuses deeply on the single plot, rather than confusing or multiple plots found in many other books of the same genre.
Following on from what I said in "A is for Alibi" review... I would think these books are similar to Point Horror novels (Which I am in love with). Why I think this, is because you get the chance of guessing who the culprit is before the main character(s) find out. This, I think, sets a very good example to who is a brilliant author and who is not. Author's who can deceive the readers into thinking someone other than the culprit is what I call a brilliant author, as I have come across a few books that the author has not been able to do such a thing. Sue Grafton is an extremely clever author, as she manages to do a lot worse (you'll know what I mean when you read this!), and it just shows who should be out here releasing books and who shouldn't, I just cannot wait for "C is for Corpse" to come to me!
I fully enjoyed this book, and really got into it, after the pretty slow start... Why was it slow? I hear you ask, well, I have already explained above, I got really confused with the characters and had to set my mind straight. I definitely advise you NOT to read this book straight after "A is for Alibi", even if you are totally engaged with Kinsey Millhone and really, really want to read more and more of the mysteries, DON'T! Leave it for a pretty long time, wait until you have read about 2 books, and then come to this one (and I mean READ 2 books from start to finish!) I think that this book is as gripping ad the first one and you are suddenly intent on reading all day and night until you finished. I did, I have to admit, put it down, but surely you know a 17 year old needs food to survive and needs to write reviews on here, trust me, I'd end up with a backlog of reviews I need to do (it's already amazingly long!) I fully enjoyed this and I hope that I'm not the only one!
So who would I recommend this book to? Well, sometimes I tend to say to everyone, this is true based on many different reasons, and surely everyone should give a book a go, since you have to learn the hard way 'never judge a book by its cover' although I want to change that to 'never judge a book by its genre' why? Because so many of us do such a thing, if you come across a poem, but you hate poems, you may never ever read that poem, and if books and poems and every type of form of writing had feelings then they all would walk around with sad faces on as people are quick to judge of form or genre of a piece of writing. That poem (that I've just mentioned) could be one of the best poems in the world and one you may understand and enjoy, but because it's a poem, and you hate poems, you will never ever read it (well, possibly). So never judge a book by its genre and give this series a go, it is a book for everyone, and if you do wish to tell me that I was wrong and that you didn't enjoy this book then please contact me as I would love to know what it was that you disliked so much about this book.
Thank you all for reading!
B is for Burglar - Sue Grafton
Description: Author: Sue Grafton / Genre: Crime / Thriller.
If anyone has read some of my earlier reviews (many thanks, I really appreciate all reads, rates and comments!), they will know that I am a fan of the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. Basically, they are a series of books featuring all letters of the alphabet. As the title implies, "B is for Burglar" is the second in the series.
The books are centered around Kinsey Millhone, a female private investigator who is hired by client Beverley Danziger and tasked with finding her sister. The sister is wealthy and successful and by all accounts, seems to have vanished.
The search for the missing sister leads Kinsey into further questions and she quickly finds herself involved in a murder investigation.
I won't say any more so that I don't spoil the plot for anyone, but trust me, the book is a good read. The series is never going to be the most horrific, or the most savage but that is actually why I like them. They are cleverly written and shot through with dark humour. The plot flows well and keeps you barreling towards a unexpected conclusion. These books are extremely easy to read, you pick them up and find that you can't put them down again.
There is something about Sue Grafton's style of writing which makes the characters seem alive, you are likely to find yourself laughing out loud on occasion, and still manage to be confused about which way the story will pan out, there is nothing obvious about these books, making them a decent read from start to finish.
I really like this series and recommend them to anyone who is a fan of crime thrillers. Kinsey Millhone is one of those characters who you find yourself liking immediately and the clever twists and turns are sure to keep you hooked until the end. Even reaching the end isn't too disappointing because you know that there are heaps more to get through!
B is for Burglar is the second in Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series, and I could not wait to get my hands on it after reading A is for Alibi.
Kinsey Millhone is a Private Investigator and she is hired by Beverly Danziger who is trying to find her sister Elaine Boldt on a family matter; they are both benefactors of a Will and Elaines signature is required to divvy up the small sum of money due to them and to the other benefactors. Kinsey draws a blank, grows a mixture of concern and suspicion for Elaine's welfare and advises Bev to report the disappearance to the police; Bev has none of it and Kinsey terminates their mutual contract but with curiosity overcoming her, continues to investigate and is then contracted by a former neighbour of Elaines'.
As Kinsey investigates she discovers a neighbour of Elaine's was murdered just days before Elaine's disappearance and wonders what the connection is with the murder of Marty Grice.
Grafton writes the character of Kinsey Millhone very well, in the first tense. We learn a ,lot about Kinsey's life, her home, her friends and a little about her family. Having now read two of the Kinsey Millhone Mystery series I feel that I know her character really well.
There is a nice smattering of humour throughout the book along with a great chunk of mystery and suspense. I literally could not put this book down and suffered loss of sleep as a result, eager to finish.
I was quite pleased with the ending, though did not 'guess' it. It worked out well. There are just a couple of unanswered questions for me, that I doubt will get answered in the next book in the series... I will just make my own assumptions.
This book, although part of a long series, can be read as a stand alone. There are a couple of references to events from A is for Alibi, but nothing that you would have had to have read first to understand.
Sue Grafton is now up to 'U' in the alphabet series; but that is a long way off for me yet. I would like to read the series in the order in which they were written if I can; will see how possible that is will my local library.
Published by Pan Macmillan in 1986 (surprised to see it is that old tbh)
ISBN 978 0 330 31583 8
For other titles by Sue Grafton visit www.suegrafton.com
I've read all of Sue Grafton's alphabet books, except for the last one, which goes up to S. There isn't one that I cannot say I haven't enjoyed, although the earlier ones are definitely the best and this one in particular is one of my favourites. On the whole I prefer British or European crime fiction, but there is something very comfortable and close to home about Sue Grafton's work - she has created a character that will appeal to most women.
Sue Grafton is the daughter of C W Grafton, who wrote three detective novels during the 1940s. She wrote two non-crime fiction books during the late 1960s and then became a screenwriter in Hollywood for several years, during which she wrote film scripts for two Agatha Christie books (not that this is something to recommend her - one of them, Sparkling Cyanide, was a travesty of justice and should never have been written!). While going through a difficult divorce, she began to plan the Kinsey Millhone series, which thankfully was a million times better than the script for Sparkling Cyanide.
Beverley Danziger employs PI Kinsey Millhone to search for her sister, Elaine, whom she needs to get hold of in order for a sum of money they have both been left. Kinsey begins to investigate, and finds that Elaine has really disappeared - she is wealthy and has a second home in Boca Rotan??, but she is neither there or in her usual apartment in Santa Teresa and none of her neighbours know where she is either and a strange woman, Pat Usher, has taken up her residence in Boca Rotan. Beverley later terminates her contract, but one of Elaine's neighbours decides to employ her instead.
As Kinsey continues to investigate, she comes across the apparent murder of a neighbour of Elaine's before she went missing. Marty Grice had apparently been attacked and then set fire to while her husband Leonard was out. He returned to find Marty dead. Somehow, the more questions Kinsey asks, the more it is clear that someone is not happy about it. Can she find out what happened to Elaine before someone else is killed? And is there any connection between Elaine's disappearance and Marty Grice's death?
The main character
Kinsey Millhone is one of my favourite female crime fiction leads. She is an orphan, having lost her parents in a car crash at a very young age, and was bought up by her slightly oddball aunt. Her criminal investigation career began in the police force, but Kinsey, being a bit of a loner, wasn't very good at taking orders and so decided to apply for her Private Investigator licence and go it alone. Many of her cases are simple fraud investigations, but she does have a tendency to get herself involved into more meaty crimes where people are murdered and her own life is put at risk. At the start of the series, Kinsey is in her early 30s; despite the passing of over 20 years in real life terms, she is still only in her late 30s in the books. She has been married twice, once to a police officer, but both marriages failed and she tends to back away from relationships, although in this book, we do see the beginning of a new relationship with a married police officer. Her closest friends are her 80 something year old landlord, Henry, from whom she rents a minute apartment, and the mad Hungarian owner of a nearby restaurant, Rosie. She has a lot of acquaintances, but few other friends.
Probably the thing that makes Kinsey Millhone so popular amongst readers is that she is portrayed very realistically as someone all too aware of her own shortcomings. She is not superwoman - she does get to the truth in her cases eventually, but often after she has made mistakes and missed things and usually got seriously injured in the process. She is not described as a looker; rather, someone who doesn't really spend a great deal of time on her appearance. She is not a comic character, like Stephanie Plum in the Janet Evanovitch books, but nor is she as serious as V I Warshawski in Sara Paretsky's novels. Whatever she is, there is a tenacity in her that keeps her asking questions and investigating crimes until the often bitter end. It isn't necessary to read the novels in order - each book is a stand-alone story - but it is worth doing so for Kinsey's character development. In conclusion, she is a strong likeable character in whom most people can find something with which to sympathise.
There is little to criticise here. The story is strong and the ending is breath-taking. In later books, Kinsey tends to take a step back and is more likely to keep out of danger; in this, it is action all the way, with Kinsey unafraid to walk into circumstances that will almost certainly be dangerous. As a character, Kinsey is spot-on.
Sue Grafton's writing style is excellent. The language is very straightforward, there is little padding and there is also a gentle humour used in the book that is entertaining - not laugh out loud farcically funny, but rather something to make you smile. This is a very entertaining book; one that is well worth a read. Highly recommended.
The book is available from Amazon for £5.59. Published by Pan, 384 pages. ISBN: 0330315838.