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S is for Silence [Hardcover]

Sue Grafton
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 6 2005 Kinsey Millhone Mystery

Thirty-four years ago, Violet Sullivan put on her party finery and left for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. She was never seen again.
 
In the small California town of Serena Station, tongues wagged. Some said she'd run off with a lover. Some said she was murdered by her husband.   
But for the not-quite-seven-year-old daughter Daisy she left behind, Violet's absence has never been explained or forgotten.
 
Now, thirty-four years later, she wants the solace of closure.
 
In S is for Silence, Kinsey Millhone's nineteenth excursion into the world of suspense and misadventure, S is for surprises as Sue Grafton takes a whole new approach to telling the tale. And S is for superb: Kinsey and Grafton at their best.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Kinsey Millhone has kept her appeal by being distinctive and sympathetic without craving center stage. While some mysteries that provide the PI's shoe size or most despised food create a forced and intrusive intimacy, a master like Grafton makes the relationship relaxed and reassuring. Millhone's life is modest and familiar, though her love life, now featuring police detective Cheney Phillips, tends to be oddly remote. This 19th entry (after 2004's R Is for Ricochet) adopts a new convention: Millhone's customary intelligent and occasionally self-deprecating first-person reportage is interrupted by vignettes from the days surrounding the Fourth of July, 34 years earlier, when a hot-blooded young woman named Violet Sullivan disappeared. Violet's daughter, Daisy, who was seven at the time, hires Millhone to discover her mother's true fate. Violet had toyed with every man in town at one time or another, so there's no shortage of scandalous secrets and possible suspects. Constant revelations concerning several absorbing characters allow a terrific tension to build. However, the utterly illogical and oddly abrupt ending undermines what is otherwise one of the stronger offerings in this iconic series. One million first printing; Literary Guild, BOMC and Mystery Guild main selection. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Grafton's determined march through the criminal alphabet puts readers within striking distance of the end, a destination no Grafton fan wants to reach. The latest in the lexicon should really be C Is for Cold Case, since it involves a disappearance that took place nearly 35 years in the past. (Although the alphabet keeps progressing, Grafton's heroine, Kinsey Millhone, is still in her late 30s and, given her high-fat eating habits, probably wouldn't have survived to be a sleuth in her 60s.) The daughter of a really neglectful mother (who could have starred in I Is for Issues) has been haunted by her mother's disappearance from a Fourth of July celebration when the daughter was only three years old. Part of the intrigue from this case comes from Grafton's sensitive portrayal of the psychological consequences of neglect. Boldly departing from the conventions of victim fiction, Grafton portrays the daughter as sniveling and annoying as well as desperate. Millhone doesn't have much hope for the case but starts digging (it's fascinating in itself to see how Millhone flounders and flounders until she finds a crack in the case). Grafton juxtaposes flashbacks to 1953, when the mother disappeared, with the current investigation, giving different points of view on the woman. Although she gives us a bit too much of Millhone's eating and living habits (probably in response to fan enthusiasm), this novel also presents strong character portrayals, a mosaic of motives, and a stunning climax. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When Liza Mellincamp thinks about the last time she ever saw Violet Sullivan, what comes most vividly to mind is the color of Violet's Japanese silk kimono, a shade of blue that Liza later learned was called "cerulean," a word that wasn't even in her vocabulary when she was fourteen years old. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Am I the only one who didn't get it? Sept. 18 2006
Format:Hardcover
I have read and enjoyed all of the alphabet so far, but I believe that Sue Grafton is getting bored and she is testing her readers to see if we are really taking any notice of what she is writing. Am I the only reader who thought the ending didn't make any sense whatsoever? I thought I must have missed a chapter by mistake and I read over most of the book again to try to make the connection but I couldn't. Of course I can't give away the ending so I can't specify the most illogical aspect of the story, but how would that last item that she pursues stand up in even an imaginary courtroom as any kind of evidence that the person involved was responsible for anything. Sue, you are running out of steam. Where is the evolvement of Kinsey's private life? It has moved along a little in previous books but it has now come to a standstill. I fear that my alphabet ends at 'S'. I have always waited impatiently for the next book but at the end of "Silence" I feel no desire to look for 'T'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hard-Boiled-Egg Legacy of Violet Oct. 3 2006
Format:Hardcover
Using a crisp, biting, time-warp prologue (or first chapter acting as a prologue) is a classic way of opening a P.I. mystery. I admire the heck out of the juicy artistic feel of this opening style, yet I generally have a hard time getting into a story with any type of preliminary literary shenanigan which doesn't sit me right down into an ongoing, "right-now" narrative. So, yes, I had a resistance to overcome prior to reading "S," even though I had read compulsively from "A" through "R."

I slid fairly easily into Kinsey's "I am a..." intro in chapter 2, with the bar/lunch scene in which Millhone reluctantly met her client over a "to drool for," scrumptiously described grilled kaiser roll with salami and pepper-cheese, fried-egg, innards. The melted white cheese infused with red-pepper-flakes definitely hot glued me onto a bar stool along with the characters. The usual Quarter Pounder with cheese would have worked, too, but, for whatever reasons, Kinsey somehow got the gourmet bug in "S."

Once the flow of the flashback chapters seated into the flow of the "I-Kinsey" narrative, I noticed that the Third Person narratives were deeply engrossing as well as intriguingly and stylishly written. I would certainly understand if Grafton had an itch to explore moods and thought patterns inside-the-heads of characters with varying degrees of anti-heroic traits, who would be vastly divergent from Kinsey in behavioral motivation and rationalization techniques.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Cold Case Solution Is Unearthed July 15 2006
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Solving a cold case is extremely challenging for a detective. Writing about solving a cold case is even tougher. You can easily get so caught up in unraveling the tattered mystery that you bore your readers silly. A particularly tricky task is to make readers care.

Sue Grafton has written one of the most satisfying cold case stories that I've ever read. She makes the missing person, Violet Sullivan, both sympathetic and off-the-wall. At the same time, Ms. Grafton shows how an unsolved disappearance leaves everyone who cared about the person wounded to the core. They are victims too. In the case of S Is for Silence, some of the victims are more sympathetic than others . . . but they are all interesting.

The book mainly succeeds because Ms. Grafton creates an interesting series of characters and plot interactions both in her flashback chapters and in her development of Kinsey's investigation.

Ms. Grafton wisely keeps the investigation short. The mystery is unraveled in five days. To have strung the investigation out would have made the book boring, in my judgment. I was very impressed to find that the flashback information wasn't a direct hint as to how Kinsey would solve the mystery. She followed her own unique path.

Those who like to focus on Kinsey and her life as a single woman won't find this book very satisfying. The cold case is the story. Kinsey's friends and family have barely cameo roles in this book.

For those who like a classic missing person's story against the backdrop of volatile relationships in a small California town, this book will, however, be the right stuff.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Time to move Kinsey forward 20 years, March 8 2006
Format:Hardcover
Does Sue Grafton ever curse her publishers (and herself) for promising a 26-volume series? By setting this book twenty years ago, in 1986, Grafton limits her possibilities. Kinsey can't move forward and grow. So she recedes into the background and frankly, she could be a lot more interesting than the supporting cast. By Case #20, she should be advancing her career and her life. It's hard to avoid comparison with Sharon McCone, a self-employed detective who began sleeping in a room in a legal commune. Now she's got her own business, her house, a pilot's license and an amazing Significant Other.
I liked the flashbacks - a nice change of pace. In fact, I started to care about the characters we met in the first few pages. Why would a grown woman befriend a 13-year-old adolescent? Why does this teen lead such a lonely life? But all the characters seem rather sleazy, almost interchangeable with characters in the other Grafton alphabet novels.
Grafton is a smart, talented writer. Can't her publishers let her introduce a new heroine? If you are looking for a great mystery novel try ' Giorgio Quest '. by Giorgio_K.
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