Pan MacMillan, December 2005
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill
Female PIís are relative late-comers to crime fiction. Along with Sarah
Paretskyís V. I. Warshawski and Marcia Mullerís Sharon McCone, Sue
Graftonís Kinsey Millhone is one of the pioneers of this particular
sub-genre. Her latest book S IS FOR SILENCE is the nineteenth release in
In S IS FOR SILENCE Kinsey is hired by Daisy Sullivan to find her mother,
Violet, who disappeared thirty-four years earlier from the small town in
which they lived. Kinsey knows with a case this cold her chances of being
able to find out anything new are very slim, but she feels sorry for Daisy
and so against her better judgement she agrees to investigate.
As Daisy was only seven when her mother disappeared she is only able to
provide limited information so Kinsey travels to the town, Serena Station,
to talk to the people who knew Violet. Violet wasnít a very popular women.
She was widely regarded as the town tramp and both Violet and her husband,
Foley, were heavy drinkers.
Grafton switches time frames with each chapter, alternating between Kinsey
talking to the people surrounding Violet and the events of July 1953. By
finding the inconsistencies between her own research and what people
remember Kinsey slowly builds up a picture of what happened. Things that
were covered up and not mentioned at the time are brought to light. What
was regarded as a potential scandal in the 1950ís is treated with a shrug
in the more permissive 80ís. This very clever plot device enables the
reader to not only build up a picture of life in small town America in the
1950ís but also reveals much about the characters and ultimately Violetís
Too often in series books the author develops a plot formula which results
in a feeling of "sameness" about them. Grafton has managed to avoid doing
that beautifully in S IS FOR SILENCE.
Another problem often encountered with reading a series of books is that
feeling of missing out on something if you don't start reading them from
the beginning. Not only is S IS FOR SILENCE a fine addition to the series,
but it also works well as a stand alone. Readers who have not yet met
Kinsey will be able to enjoy this book as much as her legion of fans.
First published at Murder and Mayhem, March 2006
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