Book Review: X by Sue Grafton

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After a ~4 year hiatus from reading the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet series, I got back to focusing on it late last year just before the author, Sue Grafton, passed away. In the second to last installment, X, Kinsey and the series become a bit more relaxed, but it also reminded me there’s only 1 book left as the final one (Z, 26) won’t be completed by a ghost writer.

There are three primary story lines in this novel, not the usual focus or style for Grafton: (1) Henry and Kinsey’s personal problems with their new neighbors, (2) Kinsey’s friendship with the wife of a late deceased colleague (who we learned a lot about in W is for Wasted) where peculiar people and letters start showing up, and (3) a mystery investigation Kinsey’s actually hired to solve by a real client. Each on their own wasn’t enough to carry a 400+ page novel, but by combining it together, readers were treated to a “week in the life” of a private eye who we’ve come to love.

One of the things that struck me the most was how Grafton only aged Kinsey by a few years over the course of ~35 years writing the novels. The setting still take place in the 1980s where there were no cell phones or usable personal computers, but there were major issues occurring in California, like a drought. Grafton uses the book to offer solutions on how to solve the water shortage, which actually applies today in many cases, too. Always keen to offer political or societal commentary through the characters, we don’t lack for an education in this one either: both treatment of the aging and conservation of water in and out of the home. At times, I thought… wait, did I start reading non-fiction again?

As for the 2 main mysteries, both ended with too many loose ends. While we know the criminal, it’s not your standard whodunit in the first one; and in the second one, Kinsey ends up playing matchmaker. While I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t a true mystery / thriller / suspense novel like most of the past. There were several high action moments, and one where I really worried Kinsey was going to die, but in the end, I was a little disappointed in the mismatch of how it all came together. That said, it’s still a strong book, just not what I was expecting or wanted. 3.5 stars and I’ll round up because I have a strong affinity for the series and author.

Writing is as good as always. Characters are clear, memorable, and understandable. A few things didn’t sit well, but for the most part, I cared what happened to everyone. I am both sad and excited to read the last one… probably later this month or the beginning of July.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.


16 thoughts on “Book Review: X by Sue Grafton

    Mary Deal said:
    June 5, 2018 at 11:35 AM

    Great review. I have never read Grafton but my roommate will read anything he can find written by her.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      June 5, 2018 at 11:37 AM

      There’s a certain appeal on how she builds a world that truly makes you feel the reality of 1980s California. It’s not too light, not too heavy… less romance drama… more old-fashioned detection without the internet. Love the series!


    bettylouise31 said:
    June 5, 2018 at 11:40 AM

    I am looking forward to your review of the last book as I had mixed feelings about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Brizzy Mays Books and Bruschetta said:
    June 5, 2018 at 3:14 PM

    Good review. I always felt it a bit unsettling that Kinsey never aged. It would have been nice if she bought some decent clothes occassionly and paid to get a good hair cut!

    Liked by 1 person

    Carrie Rubin said:
    June 5, 2018 at 3:58 PM

    I agree—these last ones aren’t her strongest, but now I wonder if her health had hindered her writing a bit. But like you, I really enjoyed the series overall. I’ll miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

    thebookwormdrinketh said:
    June 6, 2018 at 9:48 AM

    Hm. Non-fiction masquerading as fiction? 😉 I do like a book that has situations that pertain to real life (even if based in a different decade) sounds like an interesting book!

    Liked by 1 person

    tylerus said:
    June 7, 2018 at 9:15 AM

    I’m in total agreement. I always loved the series . . . until around P or Q. I wasn’t as riveted.

    Liked by 1 person

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