Rosalind's Reviews > N is for Noose

N is for Noose by Sue Grafton
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's review
Feb 27, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: crime, thriller, california

Poor Sue Grafton! Such a good idea to come up with a book for each letter of the alphabet, but by the time she got to the unlucky thirteenth it was M for Motions, Going Through The. I bet she wished she could hurl Kinsey Millhone down the Reichenbach Falls.

What she does seem to have done is take a different tack. In this fourteenth in the series she takes her heroine away (mostly) from her habitat on the southern California coast and up into the forests of the Sierra Nevada. There's no more than the briefest of nods to the by-now-tedious subplots involving her landlord Henry Bunn the Baker and Rosie the eccentric restaurateur. There's no attempt at romantic interest either (it doesn't suit Kinsey). Instead Kinsey is a stranger in a tight-knit mountain community trying to find out what was bugging a rather tiresomely upright cop in the weeks before his untimely death. Was it a murder? Somehow one always hopes so if only to reveal a whiff of scandal that would make the late Tom Newquist at least a little bit interesting.

The too-perfect dead cop doesn't mean, however, that as a thriller this falls flat. There's plenty of menace, as much from the dank suffocating woods that close in around our heroine as from the gossip of the inward-looking, suspicious locals. It's probably not overdoing it to call it Chandleresque, and I'm quite sure that's the effect Sue Grafton was aiming at here. Though bad things happen to Kinsey the tension comes mostly from what doesn't happen, from what might just be lurking in the shadows. Kinsey isn't Marlowe of course and she can't do the wisecracks, and Grafton has a way to go to be the equal of the Master, but if this is the way the series is moving then I'm happy to press on with it.

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