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Grafton, Sue

Sue Grafton has become one of the most popular writers both in the UK and in the US. She was born in Kentucky in 1940and began her career as a TV scriptwriter before the Kinsey Millhone and the 'alphabet' series took off. She lives and writes in Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky.

24 Books

Book Cover of A is for Alibi by Grafton, Sue

A tough-talking former cop, private investigator Kinsey Millhone has set up a modest detective agency in a quiet corner of Santa Teresa, California. A twice-divorced loner with few personal possessions and fewer personal attachments, she’s got a soft spot for underdogs and lost causes. Eight years ago, Nikki Fife was convicted of killing her philandering husband. Now she’s out on parole and needs Kinsey’s help to find the real killer. If there's one thing that makes Kinsey feel alive, it's playing on the edge. When her investigation turns up a second corpse, more suspects, and a new reason to kill, Kinsey discovers that the edge is closer—and sharper—than she imagined.


Book Cover of B Is for Burglar by Grafton, Sue

Although business has been slow lately for P.I. Kinsey Millhone, she's reluctant to take on the case of locating Beverly Danziger's sister Elaine Boldt. It's a small matter that Beverly should be able to handle herself. So why is she enlisting Kinsey's services? Beverly claims she needs Elaine's signature on some documents so that she can collect a small inheritance. But the whole affair doesn't sit well with Kinsey. And if there's something she's learned in her line of work, it's to always follow your instincts… Kinsey's hunch proves true when she begins her inquiries into Elaine's whereabouts and discovers that the attractive widow was last seen in a flashy lynx coat boarding a plane for Boca Raton. But the more Kinsey searches for Elaine the more questions she encounters. Is Elaine's disappearance tied in to the brutal murder several months ago of one of her bridge partners? And what happened to Elaine's Persian cat who seems to have also vanished? Things take a turn for the worse when a stranger vandalizes the home of one of Elaine's neighbors and another neighbor turns up murdered. With her reputation and career on the line, Kinsey risks all to find a missing woman and a killer who's waiting in the shadows to strike again… Review "The best new private eye."--The Detroit News "Exceptionally entertaining…an offbeat sense of humor and a feisty sense of justice." --San Francisco Chronicle "Millhone is an engaging detective-for-hire…P.I. Kinsey Millhone and her creator…are arguably the best of [the] distaff invaders of the hitherto sacrosanct turf of gumshoes." --The Buffalo News "Once a fan reads one of Grafton's alphabetically titled detective novels, he or she will not rest until all the others are found."--Los Angeles Herald Examiner* "Millhone is a refreshingly strong and resourceful female private eye."--Library Journal* "Tough but compassionate…There is no one better than Kinsey Millhone."--Best Sellers "A woman we feel we know, a tough cookie with a soft center, a gregarious loner."--Newsweek "Lord, how I like this Kinsey Millhone…The best detective fiction I have read in years."--The New York Times Book Review "Smart, tough, and thorough…Kinsey Millhone is a pleasure."--The Bloomsbury Review "Kinsey is one of the most persuasive of the new female operatives…She's refreshingly free of gender clichés. Grafton, who is a very witty writer, has also given her sleuth a nice sense of humor--and a set of Wonder Woman sheets to prove it."--Boston Herald "What grandpa used to call a class act."--Stanley Ellin "Smart, sexual, likable and a very modern operator."--Dorothy Salisbury Davis "Kinsey's got brains and a sense of humor."--Kirkus Reviews From the Publisher 8 1-hour cassettes


Book Cover of C Is for Corpse by Grafton, Sue

How do you go about solving an attempted murder when the victim has lost a good part of his memory? It's one of Kinsey's toughest cases yet, but she never backs down from a challenge. Twenty-three-year-old Bobby Callahan is lucky to be alive after a car forced his Porsche over a bridge and into a canyon. The crash left Bobby with a clouded memory. But he can't shake the feeling it was no random accident and that he's still in danger… The only clues Kinsey has to go on are a little red address book and the name "Blackman." Bobby can't remember who he gave the address book to for safekeeping. And any chances of Bobby regaining his memory are dashed when he's killed in another automobile accident just three days after he hires Kinsey. As Kinsey digs deeper into her investigation, she discovers Bobby had a secret worth killing for--and unearthing that secret could send Kinsey to her own early death… From Publishers Weekly The corpse in private eye Kinsey Millhone's third adventure ("A" Is for Alibi and "B" Is for Burglar is that of Bobby Callahan, a young man she first meets while both are working out in a local gym. Bobby is convinced the car crash he'd been injured in was really an attempt on his life and, fearful of another assault, persuades Kinsey to investigate. A few days later, Bobby is indeed killed, and Kinsey stays on the case. She is befriended by Bobby's wealthy mother, his opportunistic stepfather and druggie, anoretic stepsister. She learns Bobby was having an affair with a friend of his mother's whose first husband had been killed in a suspicious burglary, and whose second is county pathologist. While the almost hard-boiled Kinsey ferrets out the ugly secrets behind Bobby's death, she's also trying to save her elderly landlord from the schemes of the scam-operating senior lady he's smitten with. Kinsey Millhone is nobody's fool; she's also sensitive, funny and very likable. Writing with a light, sure touch, Grafton has produced a fast-moving California story about quirky, believable people. Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. Review "Exceptionally entertaining…an offbeat sense of humor and a feisty sense of justice." --San Francisco Chronicle "Millhone is an engaging detective-for-hire…P.I. Kinsey Millhone and her creator…are arguably the best of [the] distaff invaders of the hitherto sacrosanct turf of gumshoes."--The Buffalo News "Once a fan reads one of Grafton's alphabetically titled detective novels, he or she will not rest until all the others are found."--Los Angeles Herald Examiner* "Millhone is a refreshingly strong and resourceful female private eye."--Library Journal* "Tough but compassionate…There is no one better than Kinsey Millhone."--Best Sellers "A woman we feel we know, a tough cookie with a soft center, a gregarious loner."--Newsweek "Lord, how I like this Kinsey Millhone…The best detective fiction I have read in years." --The New York Times Book Review "Smart, tough, and thorough…Kinsey Millhone is a pleasure."--The Bloomsbury Review "Kinsey is one of the most persuasive of the new female operatives…she's refreshingly free of gender clichés. Grafton, who is a very witty writer, has also given her sleuth a nice sense of humor--and a set of Wonder Woman sheets to prove it."--Boston Herald "What grandpa used to call a class act."--Stanley Ellin "Smart, sexual, likeable, and a very modern operator."--Dorothy Salisbury Davis "Kinsey's got brains and a sense of humor."--Kirkus Reviews


Book Cover of D Is for Deadbeat by Grafton, Sue

When Alvin Limardo walks into P.I. Kinsey Millhone's office, she smells bad news. He wants Kinsey to deliver $25,000. The recipient: A fifteen-year-old boy. It's a simple matter. So simple that Kinsey wonders why he doesn't deliver the money himself. She's almost certain something is off. But with rent due, Kinsey accepts Limardo's retainer against her better judgment… When Limardo's check bounces, Kinsey discovers she's been had big time. Alvin Limardo is really John Daggett--an ex-con with a drinking problem, two wives to boot, and a slew of people who would like to see him dead. Now Kinsey is out four hundred dollars and in hot pursuit of Daggett. When Daggett's corpse shows up floating in the Santa Teresa surf, the cops rule the death an accident. Kinsey thinks it's murder. But seeking justice for a man who everyone seemed to despise is going to be a lot tougher than she bargained for--and what awaits her at the end of the road is much more disturbing than she could've ever imagined… From Publishers Weekly "D" is for Detective Kinsey Millhone, given $25,000 of stolen drug money by a drunkard named Daggett who then dies in a drowning. When she decides to deliver the money to Daggett's designee, a young man who was the sole survivor of an auto accident perpetrated by Daggett, Kinsey finds herself in a dilemma: too many "D's" are after the loot. There are two Mrs. Daggetts, a daughter, the drug dealers and a determined killer who soon claims a second life. At this point, Grafton's lively, well-written adventure develops a deadly flaw. Kinsey comes upon the second victim shortly after he's been shot. Though dying, he is conscious and coherent. Why, then, doesn't she ask who did it? When asked the same thing by the police, she says, "I didn't want the last minutes of his life taken up with that stuff"a humane but unlikely rejoiner from any private eye. Even so, the pleasure of this story comes through. Let's give it a "D" for Dandy. Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. Review "One of the things that makes Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series so unfailingly entertaining is Millhone's character. She's the last one to cultivate eccentricities in the Nero Wolfe manner, and her unsentimental, loner's-eye view of herself and the world keeps her feet on the ground. But her cases often get messy because she feels things strongly. This happens again, more satisfyingly than ever, in 'D' is for Deadbeat."--The Detroit News "Kinsey Millhone has the characteristic persistence of the good private eye who won't be deterred from digging out the truth. With skill, Grafton keeps not only her appealing detective but her readers on the edge to know more."--Ms. magazine "Taut prose and controlled plotting make Grafton an outstanding writer of hardboiled detective stories. Social awareness and human weakness play a great part in the Millhone books, which always manage to finish with a heart-stopping climax. Well done indeed."--Library Journal


Book Cover of H Is for Homicide by Grafton, Sue

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton’s PI Kinsey Millhone tackles insurance fraud in her latest outing—and finds that she’ll have to commit some deceit of her own to catch a cold-blooded killer… H IS FOR HUSTLER… When PI Kinsey Millhone’s good friend and colleague Parnell Perkins is found murdered in the parking lot behind California Fidelity Insurance, she can’t believe he had any enemies. The only clue that raises a red flag for Kinsey is one of Parnell’s files on a Bibianna Diaz, who appears to have made a lucrative career out of scamming insurance companies with phony claims… H IS FOR HAZARDOUS… Taking an alias, Kinsey goes undercover to befriend Bibianna, hoping she’ll get close enough to catch the con artist at her own game. But Kinsey never dreams that hanging out with Bibianna will get them both thrown in jail. And when they’re released, Bibianna’s very jealous, very dangerous ex-fiancé Raymond Maldonado is waiting for them. H IS FOR HOMICIDE Kinsey soon discovers the short-tempered thug is the kingpin behind Bibianna’s and countless other phony insurance claims. But was Raymond also responsible for Parnell’s death? All Kinsey knows is that she’ll have to think quick to nab one of the most treacherous criminals she’s come face to face with—and keep herself alive… From Publishers Weekly This eighth in an alphabetically titled mystery series--Holt will publish "I" is for Innocentor is quotes around the letters PW style? in May--finds sleuth Kinsey Millhone undercover in a Los Angeles barrio. Some 178,000 hardcover copies of this Literary and Mystery Guild selection have been sold. (May Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. Review “Intelligent, fast-paced, and filled with memorable characters…Kinsey remains as engaging as ever.”—The New York Times Book Review PHENOMENAL PRAISE FOR THE MYSTERY NOVELS OF #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR SUE GRAFTON “Exceptionally entertaining…an offbeat sense of humor and a feisty sense of justice.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Millhone is an engaging detective-for-hire…P.I. Kinsey Millhone and her creator…are arguably the best of [the] distaff invaders of the hitherto sacrosanct turf of gumshoes.” —The Buffalo News “Once a fan reads one of Grafton’s alphabetically titled detective novels, he or she will not rest until all the others are found.”—Los Angeles Herald Examiner “Millhone is a refreshingly strong and resourceful female private eye.”—Library Journal “Tough but compassionate…There is no one better than Kinsey Millhone.”—Best Sellers “A woman we feel we know, a tough cookie with a soft center, a gregarious loner.”—Newsweek “Lord, how I like this Kinsey Millhone…The best detective fiction I have read in years.”—The New York Times Book Review “Smart, tough, and thorough…Kinsey Millhone is a pleasure.”—The Bloomsbury Review “Kinsey is one of the most persuasive of the new female operatives…She’s refreshingly free of gender clichés. Grafton, who is a very witty writer, has also given her sleuth a nice sense of humor—and a set of Wonder Woman sheets to prove it.”—Boston Herald “What grandpa used to call a class act.”—Stanley Ellin “Smart, sexual, likable and a very modern operator.”—Dorothy Salisbury Davis “Kinsey’s got brains and a sense of humor.”—Kirkus Reviews


Book Cover of J Is for Judgement by Grafton, Sue

J is for Judgement. Kinsey Milhome returns as private detective in the tenth book of the series by Sue Grafton. This time Kinsey has been hired by an insurance company she used to work for. They had paid off a life insurance policy to a man's widow. But now, the man has been spotted alive and well in Mexico. Kinsey goes under cover and confirms that it could be him. Meanwhile back in California, the man's son, who has been in trouble with the law, breaks jail with three others and in the process of their escape kills a woman. The news is seen in the newspaper by the man and Kinsey think this will tempt him back into the states. And it does. Now she just has to find him so that the insurance company has paid erroneously or not. The chase leads her to the man's "widow", his two sons, and his ex-partner, and the cop who worked his case the first time. "


Book Cover of K Is for Killer by Grafton, Sue

Janice Kepler is on the way home from the support group she joined after the death of her beloved daughter, Lorna. When she sees a light on in the offices of Millhone Investigations, she believes it’s a sign…and decides to knock on the door. Janice has waited long enough for Lorna’s case to pick up steam, and she is relieved when Kinsey Millhone agrees to finish the work authorities left undone. Ten months before, local police had suspected homicide, but never could find a suspect—or a motive. The trail went cold. And Lorna’s death remained a mystery… Now Kinsey is about to be pulled into a netherworld of unavenged murder and damaged survivors…where sometimes it takes a deal with the devil to survive. From Publishers Weekly The 11th adventure of Santa Teresa, Calif., PI Kinsey Milhone has a dark tone--due in great part to Kinsey's working this case mostly at night. Kinsey agrees to look into the 10-month-old death of Lorna Kepler, a young woman whose decomposed body was discovered in her cabin so long after death that it was impossible to determine the cause. Kinsey's client, Lorna's mother, who works the night shift in a 24-hour diner, suspects murder. So does Kinsey, especially after investigating Lorna's effects and her considerable assets, some unaccounted-for. An anonymously delivered pornographic tape adds to the emerging portrait of the dead woman as an intriguingly self-sufficient, ambitious woman of the evening. In nighttime forays, Kinsey talks to an all-night deejay whom Lorna often visited at his studio; she meets--and befriends--a prostitute who occasionally teamed up with Lorna to party with clients. She also investigates the victim's day job as a part-time receptionist for the water district, where a high-stakes development project is currently raising tempers. A host of suspects includes a porn filmmaker in San Francisco, members of Lorna's family, her landlord, the water district employees and even a smooth-dressing cop, whom Kinsey talks to at night. But lack of sleep dulls Kinsey's perceptions and it takes two more deaths and the surprise appearance of a deus ex limousine to lead her to a solution. Even sleep-deprived, Kinsey shows spunk and appeal, but she is not at her sharpest here. 600,000 first printing; author tour. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. From School Library Journal YA-Asked to investigate the death of 25-year-old Lorna Kepler, which occurred 10 months earlier, P.I. Kinsey Millhone uncovers the young woman's secret life as a high-class call girl, her half a million dollars in blue-chip investments, but no clue as to the murderer. The main plot is strengthened by several subplots including the whereabouts of a $20,000 withdrawal made the day of Lorna's death; the misleading spying antics of her landlord's wife; and the greed and jealousy of the victim's overweight older sister. Grafton's writing is vivid when describing Kinsey's soul-searching about the evil some people commit and in the resultant powerful ending. Though the 11th in the series, "K" is neither weak nor repetitive, providing excitement, intrigue, and a fierce need to finish reading it in one sitting. Pam Spencer, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Book Cover of L Is for Lawless by Grafton, Sue

When Kinsey Millhone’s landlord asks her to help deceased World War II vet Johnnie Lee’s family find out why the military has no record of his service, she thinks it’ll be a cinch. But she is about to meet her match in world-class prevaricators who take her for the ride of her life. When Lee’s apartment in burgled and a man named Ray Rawson, who claims to be an old friend of Lee’s, is beaten up, Kinsey soon finds herself on the trail of a pregnant woman with a duffel bag. Soon the intrepid P.I. is following leads halfway across the country and encountering another man from Lee’s past—a vengeful psychopath. Stalked by a new enemy and increasingly suspicious of Rawson—not to mention running out of time and money—now Kinsey must steer a collision course to solve a decades-old mystery that some would like better left unsolved.… Amazon.com Review Both new readers and old fans will welcome this 12th Kinsey Milhone adventure in the "A" is for Alibi series by Sue Grafton. In this case, Kinsey agrees to do a favor for a friend of a friend and gets herself into so much trouble that she promises at the outset never to do such a thing again without careful consideration. Henry Pitt, her longtime landlord asks her to help a fellow neighbor find evidence that his grandfather served in the military during the Second World War. With such proof, the man can be decently buried, courtesy of the U.S. government. It seems such a simple thing, but with Kinsey, it rarely is. Before long she finds herself entangled with an eccentric and quarrelsome family as well as a long lost buddy who has turned up just in time to get himself beaten up in a robbery attempt of the alleged veteran's apartment. It seems there is a reason the Armed Services have no record of the dead man's service. Kinsey sets out to determine what he might have been doing instead of fighting against the Japanese and why someone might think his shabby apartment worth a burgle. Typical of the series, the mystery is not the central point of the story, but rather a starting point for Kinsey to become embroiled in a suspenseful (and delightful) search-and-rescue operation, usually against her better judgement. In this case, a gun-toting, arthritic octogenarian and revelations of the inner workings of bargain-rate motels are all part of the adventure. This is an easy and enjoyable read, and a solid addition to Grafton's string of alphabetical hits. --K.A. Crouch From Publishers Weekly Bemused, beleaguered and begrimed, Southern California's premier PI, Kinsey Millhone leaves her hometown of Santa Teresa in an adventure (her 12th in the alphabet series) that begins straightforwardly enough but quickly twists into a knotted string of untruths. While getting ready for the Thanksgiving Day wedding between a local tavern keeper and the elder brother of her landlord, Kinsey agrees to help the family of recently deceased neighborhood WWII vet, Johnnie Lee, find out why the military has no record of his service. Soon after Kinsey has finished looking (fruitlessly) through his papers, Lee's rooms are burgled, and Ray Rawson, who claims he is an old friend recently arrived in Santa Teresa unaware of Lee's death, is beaten up. Kinsey soon finds herself on a plane bound for Florida, in possession of only the clothes she's wearing and her purse( with an extra toothbrush), trailing a young pregnant woman in possession of a duffel bag spirited from Lee's home. On a stopover in Dallas/Fort Worth, Kinsey sleuths disguised as a hotel maid dusting baseboards ("tough to picture the boy detectives doing this," she reflects), meets the increasingly unreliable Rawson again and encounters yet another figure from Lee's past, a violent, vengeful psychopath. While gradually sorting out the connections among this cast, Kinsey travels to Louisville, where Rawson's 80-something mother proves her mettle and Kinsey, determining that lawless, in this case, is neither adjective nor collective noun, unravels a decades-old mystery. 750,000 first printing; Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections; author tour. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Book Cover of M Is for Malice by Grafton, Sue

"M" is for money. Lots of it. "M" is for Malek Construction, the $40 million company that grew out of modest soil to become one of the big three in California construction, one of the few still in family hands. "M" is for the Malek family: four sons now nearing middle age who stand to inherit a fortune--four men with very different outlooks, temperaments, and needs, linked only by blood and money. Eighteen years ago, one of them--angry, troubled, and in trouble--went missing. "M" is for Millhone, hired to trace that missing black sheep brother. "M" is for memories, none of them happy. The bitter memories of an embattled family. This prodigal son will find no welcome at his family's table. "M" is for malice. And in brutal consequence, "M" is for murder, the all-too-common outcome of familial hatreds. "M" is for malice . . . and malice kills. Amazon.com Review "Every investigation has a nature of its own, but there are certain shared characteristics," explains private eye Kinsey Millhone in her 13th alphabetic outing. "Here's what you hope for: a chance remark from the former neighbor on a skip-trace, a penciled notation on the corner of a document, an ex-spouse with a grudge, the number on an account, an item overlooked at the scene of a crime. Here's what you expect: the dead ends, bureaucratic bullheadedness, the cul-de-sacs, trails that go nowhere or simply fade into thin air, denials, prevarications, the blank-eyed stares from all the hostile witnesses. Here's what you know: that you've done it before and you have the toughness and determination to pull it off again. Here's what you want: justice. Here's what you'll settle for: something equivalent, the quid pro quo." All of the above are on display in Grafton's latest entry in her increasingly popular series set in a thinly-disguised Santa Barbara, as the virtually ageless Kinsey finds and loses a missing heir and gets back an old lover. From Publishers Weekly Approaching middle age warily, PI Kinsey Millhone of the Southern California coast is mildly depressed, romantically vulnerable and in the process of reassessing her family ties. Yet, when it comes to her professional abilities, she's at the top of her form, as this deftly plotted and absorbing novel (her 13th appearance, after L Is for Lawless) proves. Bader Malek, a local industrial tycoon, has died, and his four sons now stand to inherit a substantial fortune. But one of them, Guy, has been missing since 1968. A drug addict, ne'er-do-well and all-around miscreant, Guy had been disinherited by his exasperated father shortly before he vanished. But that particular will has disappeared, and Kinsey has been hired by the family to find out if Guy is still alive and thus in line to collect his original portion of the estate. She quickly succeeds in locating him and brings back a sweet, guileless and totally reformed man. But is he? The three other brothers?a truly devious, arrogant and greedy lot?are deeply ambivalent about Guy's return. A murder in the family leaves the surviving Malek kin as prime suspects. This is a subtle and swiftly moving novel, pleasantly unpredictable, with an agreeable overlay of smoldering romance, as fellow PI and former lover Robert Dietz reenters Kinsey's life. Grafton's heroine?more introspective, yet still feisty and surefooted?leads this finely tuned and at times electrifying tale to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. 1,000,000 first printing. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Book Cover of N Is for Noose by Grafton, Sue

“SMART AND SASSY” (New York Times) P.I. Kinsey Millhone is at it again in yet another thrilling adventure from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton Tom Newquist has died. A detective in the Nota Lake sheriff’s office, Tom was tough, honest, and respected by all. He was also a heavy drinker and a workaholic, much to his wife Selma’s distress. And now that Tom is gone, Selma can’t help but wonder what it really was that was troubling him…. What made Tom so restless during the last six weeks of his life? Why was he up all night and brooding all day long? What—or who—was at the heart of his dark moods? With the coroner’s report in hand, Selma decides to enlist the help of Kinsey Millhone to find the truth about what happened to her husband. But the residents of Nota Lake keep their secrets close—and their enemies closer. And the deeper Kinsey’s investigation goes, the closer she comes to confronting the most dangerous outcome of all: the truth…   Amazon.com Review "Suppose we could peer through a tiny peephole in time and chance upon a flash of what was coming up in the years ahead?" The questioner is Kinsey Millhone, middle-aged, two-time divorcee detective and junk food junkie star of Sue Grafton's popular "alphabet" mysteries; the book is 'N' Is for Noose. If Kinsey had had just a smidgen of foresight, she would never have taken her current case, handed down to her from her on-again, off-again flame and comrade in arms, Robert Dietz. We encounter the two this time out after Deitz's knee surgery, as Kinsey drives his "snazzy little red Porsche" back to Carson City, where she checks out his digs for the first time. To her surprise, he lives in a palatial penthouse, which--under the unspoken bylaws of investigative etiquette--she qualmlessly snoops through. They sit around for a fortnight playing gin rummy and eating peanut butter and pickle sandwiches together, but perennially single Kinsey grows wary: "It was time to hit the road before our togetherness began to chafe." She heads off to meet Dietz's former client, Mrs. Selma Newquist, a devastated widow whose makeup tips seem to come from Tammy Faye Baker. Her husband Tom Newquist, a detective himself, had been working on a mysterious case when he abruptly died of a heart attack. Selma suspects foul play, but bless her, she isn't the brightest star in the sky and can't figure out what Tom was working on even though he's left behind enough paper to fill a recycling truck. Kinsey digs right in and roams the sleepy, one-horse town of Nota Lake for clues, interviewing a colorful cast of in-laws and locals. Beneath the quaint, quiet, country veneer, she unearths a bubbling hotbed of internal strife and familial double-dealing. Was Tom covering up for his partner? Is Selma protecting someone? Grafton's knack for gritty details and realistic characters ("[Selma's] skin tones suggested dark coloring, but her hair was a confection of white-blond curls, like a cloud of cotton candy"), coupled with the fast-paced, believable story line, makes for another delightful, entertaining read. --Rebekah Warren, Bestsellers editor From Publishers Weekly The noose of the title implies a tight knot, but the twists and turns of Grafton's latest plot are pretty loose. Not that the fans of self-reliant PI Kinsey Millhone's 13 previous alphabet appearances (from 1982's A Is for Alibi through 1996's M Is for Malice) are likely to object. This story takes Kinsey away from her Southern California coastal town of Santa Teresa to the small mountain community of Nota Lake in the Sierras. There, Selma Newquist hires Kinsey to ferret out the problem that had been seriously bothering her cop husband, Tom, before his recent death from a heart attack. Kinsey's efforts are soon stonewalled as the residents of Nota Lake unite, suggesting that the widow is being troublesome while the good-guy cop should be left to rest in peace. Kinsey wonders whether the townspeople might be right until she is seriously beaten up in her Nota Lake motel room. Focusing on finding the dead man's missing notebook, she follows his trail to a seedy hotel not far from Santa Teresa that he visited a few weeks before his death. While keeping a suspicious eye on the dead man's police partner and a few other local figures, Kinsey determines that Tom Newquist had been investigating an old murder near Nota Lake, which may have had ties to a similar, recent murder. Lots of coincidences, some over-the top characters, including a hyper-raunchy older woman, and some unprepared-for elements contribute to the rather chaotic climax. But Grafton's easy-reading, intelligent prose and her heroine's sharp humor, served up dark and wry, make up for a slew of plot weaknesses. 1,000,000 first printing; Mystery Guild main selection; Literary Guild selection; 18-city author tour. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.