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K Is For Killer (1997)

K is for Killer (1997)
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Rating
3.97 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
0449000664 (ISBN13: 9780449000663)
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English
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ballantine books
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K Is For Killer (1997)
K Is For Killer (1997)

About book: Maybe it's pointless to jump into reviewing this series midway through, but K is the first book in Grafton's alphabet so far that's seemed much different than the others. I've thoroughly enjoyed the highly devourable mysteries A-I; J is for Judgment left a sour taste in my mouth only insomuch as it trespassed into non-mystery territory at the end, when (spoiler!) protagonist detective Kinsey Millhone discovers, basically out of nowhere, that she has family living not too far away. Her reaction to finding this out is pretty childish and initially in-character, but the open hostility and sustained unreasonableness of the character in the last 40 or 50 pages of the book made me hope for redemption -- or at least further development -- in K.K seems promising in its plot, at first. A bright but stand-offish young woman, Lorna Kepler, is found dead in her tiny cottage. Ten months later, her distraught mother asks Kinsey to look into her death -- in part because someone has just mailed Mom a videotape in which the bright, favored daughter appears in a porn film.The book slowly sinks, though, into tropes and bizarre complications. Lorna's lifestyle -- it turns out she worked part-time for the city's water treatment plant and part-time as a high-dollar sex worker -- is criticized soundly by nearly every character in the book, save one, her best friend (and fellow hooker), Danielle. Thus the book quickly divides into two groups: the fat, jealous women who speak about Lorna's life with disgust, and the thin pretty friend who's a hooker. Oh, and the men, all of whom seem to have wanted her. Kinsey's search for a possible killer leads her to San Francisco to check up on the porn film director and fellow actor. (The actor is one of the only friendly characters in the book, in part because he's one of the only surprising characters). There's really no point to this trip beyond, I can only guess, some kind of editorial advice that "maybe throw in some sex" was handed over. The only fun in the book comes from some banter between Kinsey and a new-to-readers male cop, Cheney Phillips, who spends the first half of the book being strangely seductive and professional. At about the 3/4 mark on the book, he becomes a jerk (and magically gains a girlfriend), in order to slow the progression of the mystery and to force Kinsey into a moral dilemma. By the end, three more people have died. All three die after Kinsey has received the clue that reveals who Lorna's real killer is; none of the three is confirmed to have been killed by the same person. In fact, the book varies completely from form at the end: not only are crimes left unsolved, but Kinsey doesn't even mention her final accounting with the family of the deceased (one of whom is implicated in an illegal act not long before the resolution). The epilogue deals with the (absent) consequences for the questionable moral decision Kinsey's made. I'd like to hope that might be dealt with in L, but this book leaves me no hope.Why? Because J's issues didn't make the cut here. Though the family drama is mentioned, it's only mentioned once, in dialogue. Unfortunately, there does seem to be some form of bitter hangover happening for either the character or the author. The childish, bitter, unreasonable Kinsey of the J finale shows up from the beginning of K. Where the descriptions in earlier books have often found clever ways to categorize new acquaintances, this book seems rife with uncreative and insulting descriptions. An initial meeting with the sister of the deceased leads Kinsey to cunningly observe that, "From the size of her butt, she'd eaten many boxed cakes." That's neither creative nor funny. It's just mean. Her observations of nearly every other woman in the book are similarly critical and hateful. The men, on the other hand, come off nicely -- they're mostly broad-shouldered, sturdily dressed, friendly in their smiles, light in their eyes. (One exception: a stereotypical pimp, whose physical dimensions are basically repeated in a stereotypical john later on). Add to this the fact that the author, for some reason, spends time not only reminding the reader of how many calories Kinsey's daily run burns but also finding the only good quality in any of the women seen to be the bare, flat midriffs of Danielle and an actress named Cherie, and you end up with a book that feels like it's simmering with the repressed bitchy hunger of a character (or writer?) who really, really needs a piece of cake and a day out with some decent girlfriends.So, even though I received H-M for Valentine's Day, it may be a while before I can lift L is for Lawless.

In this installment of the quirky gumshoe, Kinsey the perpetually perky detective with the fast tongue and faster gun takes on a Mother's quest to solve her daughter's murder.As Kinsey delves into the young woman's recent history, she uncovers a seedy past that would make her mother blush. Prostitution, high stakes money and the mafia round out this tale, not to mention sibling jealousy and possible unfaithfulness.This is what Sue does best: fully rounded characters, even if they only share a few pages with Kinsey. Even the baddest character she creates you can identify with and still imagine the scene. Each scene is rich and dripping in detail, from the derelict cabin in the woods to the small blue house in town. You tend to bond with the characters and find yourself rooting for them. The many clues that pop up are indeterminable until Kinsey has that "AHA!" moment near the end.I don't try to solve the mystery before hand, as I realize there is a rare treat before me that I let unfold.
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Reviews
Debra Kaitschuck
This one was harder for me to get into and less enjoyable than the others. SPOILER ALERTI was excited when Kinsey appeared to make a friend, wondering how that friend might play into future books, only to have her killed off. I could see the death as being investigated in the next novel, but I don't know yet if that's the case.Kinsey also has a new detective friend I'm not sure what to think about. At first, I thought he might be a potential love interest, but all of a sudden he talked about bei
Francie
I've been slowly making my way through Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries, which I initially read as I cared for my infant daughter through middle of the night feedings almost three decades ago. Since I don't remember anything other than how much I enjoyed Kinsey Millhone, I've returned to this series to reacquaint myself with the delightful and determined PI and follow her through to the end of the alphabet. "K is for Killer" is a deeper, darker book than its predecessors. As Kinsey wrestles with untangling the many threads of the cold case of Lorna Kepler's murder, she must also wrestle with the limitations of our justice system vs. the obligation to seek justice on behalf of the dead. Grafton's prose is richer in this novel as she delves into the moral dilemmas Kinsey faces. Rosie and Henry are practically absent from this novel, but the people who dominate the night life of Santa Teresa show Grafton's talent for creating fascinating and full-bodied minor characters while continuing to develop her main character. I'm looking forward to the next books in this series.
Randee Baty
Another home run for Sue Grafton. I loved this book but I almost hate to gush over it because that feels like it would go against the atmosphere of the book. Kinsey has been asked to by a mother to investigate the death of her daughter on which the police have not been able to make much headway. From there Kinsey gets sucked into the life of the night people in Santa Teresa. She meets hookers, night djs, nurses that work the night shift and waitresses that work at night. Her own life gets turned upside down as she starts working nights and sleeping days. It really has a brooding atmospheric feeling like an old film noir.The story has a lot of suspicious characters and lines of investigation to follow, a lot of leg work on Kinsey's part. The atmosphere almost clings around this book like night fog. In the end, you can decide whether justice was done or not. This is a story that will stay with you.
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