Brick ONeil Book Review: Sue Grafton’s X
X: The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.
X: The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.
X: The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.
Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.
After waiting for years for the 24th installment of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone Mysteries, I eagerly forked over my $20 and settled in for the evening to read. When I finished, I was in awe–not because of the finesse of another finely-tuned novel, but of the mess that the publisher allowed in bookstores. If this were a first novel for a beginning author, I would say, good effort and mention something about getting their stride after a few books under their belt. But seeing that this is the Mystery Writing Goddess, Sue Grafton, I have to wonder “What Happened?”
X is a meandering tale, with obvious filler detailing Kinsey’s daily life-making coffee, driving the streets, reading mail, long monologues that go nowhere. What was also painfully obvious was there was some sort of word count either the publisher, editor or president of the company wanted. The plot waned horribly. Did Ms. Grafton put the book away for months at a time, then come back and write? Place feels out of place in this tome, as if Millhone’s town were brand spanking new. Nothing felt right.
Let’s talk about supporting characters and sub-plots. The elderly next door neighbors of Henry and Kinsey read as if it were lifted from three other Grafton books. Nothing new there, either. Sure, the specifics were ‘different’, but really? I expected something new and exciting, but after 23 books, I can guess finding new surprises for readers can become taxing. We are treated to past performers who really didn’t add anything to the main plot, which was all over the place. I feel bad for Ms. Grafton, afterall, crafting a novel takes time, creativity and effort but X doesn’t hit the spot this time. I give 2 stars.