- Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Fawcett (March 29 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0449223612
- ISBN-13: 978-0449223611
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.2 x 17.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 363 g
- Average Customer Review: 162 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,662,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
N Is for Noose Mass Market Paperback – Mar 29 1999
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"Suppose we could peer through a tiny peephole in time and chance upon a flash of what was coming up in the years ahead?" The questioner is Kinsey Millhone, middle-aged, two-time divorcee detective and junk food junkie star of Sue Grafton's popular "alphabet" mysteries; the book is 'N' Is for Noose. If Kinsey had had just a smidgen of foresight, she would never have taken her current case, handed down to her from her on-again, off-again flame and comrade in arms, Robert Dietz. We encounter the two this time out after Deitz's knee surgery, as Kinsey drives his "snazzy little red Porsche" back to Carson City, where she checks out his digs for the first time. To her surprise, he lives in a palatial penthouse, which--under the unspoken bylaws of investigative etiquette--she qualmlessly snoops through. They sit around for a fortnight playing gin rummy and eating peanut butter and pickle sandwiches together, but perennially single Kinsey grows wary: "It was time to hit the road before our togetherness began to chafe."
She heads off to meet Dietz's former client, Mrs. Selma Newquist, a devastated widow whose makeup tips seem to come from Tammy Faye Baker. Her husband Tom Newquist, a detective himself, had been working on a mysterious case when he abruptly died of a heart attack. Selma suspects foul play, but bless her, she isn't the brightest star in the sky and can't figure out what Tom was working on even though he's left behind enough paper to fill a recycling truck. Kinsey digs right in and roams the sleepy, one-horse town of Nota Lake for clues, interviewing a colorful cast of in-laws and locals. Beneath the quaint, quiet, country veneer, she unearths a bubbling hotbed of internal strife and familial double-dealing. Was Tom covering up for his partner? Is Selma protecting someone? Grafton's knack for gritty details and realistic characters ("[Selma's] skin tones suggested dark coloring, but her hair was a confection of white-blond curls, like a cloud of cotton candy"), coupled with the fast-paced, believable story line, makes for another delightful, entertaining read. --Rebekah Warren, Bestsellers editor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The noose of the title implies a tight knot, but the twists and turns of Grafton's latest plot are pretty loose. Not that the fans of self-reliant PI Kinsey Millhone's 13 previous alphabet appearances (from 1982's A Is for Alibi through 1996's M Is for Malice) are likely to object. This story takes Kinsey away from her Southern California coastal town of Santa Teresa to the small mountain community of Nota Lake in the Sierras. There, Selma Newquist hires Kinsey to ferret out the problem that had been seriously bothering her cop husband, Tom, before his recent death from a heart attack. Kinsey's efforts are soon stonewalled as the residents of Nota Lake unite, suggesting that the widow is being troublesome while the good-guy cop should be left to rest in peace. Kinsey wonders whether the townspeople might be right until she is seriously beaten up in her Nota Lake motel room. Focusing on finding the dead man's missing notebook, she follows his trail to a seedy hotel not far from Santa Teresa that he visited a few weeks before his death. While keeping a suspicious eye on the dead man's police partner and a few other local figures, Kinsey determines that Tom Newquist had been investigating an old murder near Nota Lake, which may have had ties to a similar, recent murder. Lots of coincidences, some over-the top characters, including a hyper-raunchy older woman, and some unprepared-for elements contribute to the rather chaotic climax. But Grafton's easy-reading, intelligent prose and her heroine's sharp humor, served up dark and wry, make up for a slew of plot weaknesses. 1,000,000 first printing; Mystery Guild main selection; Literary Guild selection; 18-city author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Kinsey Milhone takes a case in a small town. Dead is a cop, apparently of a heart attack. But his wife, unloved by the community and perhaps deservedly so, knows that something had been bothering her husband before he died, and now she wants to know what, for her own piece of mind. So she hires Kinsey to find out what was going on, but not everyone shares the wife's desire to know. Kinsey finds out relatively quickly that the cop had been investigating a year-old murder case, that originally looked like a suicide by hanging (hence the title). However, the method of suicide exactly matched another case, so he knew it wasn't suicide -- hence an investigation that had been going nowhere. Worse still, the only suspects were in the small town, and most of them were friends. Kinsey searches, finds the original path of inquiry and starts digging. In the process she gets beat up, warned off, almost fired, belittled by her client, and pretty much treated badly by everyone in the town when they find out she isn't the innocent little camper people mistook her for at the beginning.
WHAT I LIKED:
The story is pretty linear, although Grafton takes her own sweet time bringing Kinsey to see it. There's a short intro to some problems with Rosey back home, obviously something to come up again in a later book, but most of it is just Kinsey alone in the small town getting nowhere. Once she cottons on to the real path, the investigation is pretty straight-forward, but she doesn't see the result until it is almost too late. There's some really weird stuff at the end to do with some drugged-out hallucinations, and it makes for an interesting incapacitation plotline.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
Grafton takes a little too long to get to the investigation, almost like the story started out as a short story, with all the stuff at the start added to expand the length. Although the tightness of the ending makes the story move along, it all wrapped up too quickly.
I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow her on social media.
I have read nearly all Sue Grafton's books in this series and find that this is a little slower than the others and not nearly as exciting. The widow of a small town policeman asks Kinsey Millhone to find the reason for her husbands fretfulness and ill-ease just before he dies of a heart attack. While this appears at first to be a fruitless exercise, Kinsey obviously disturbs someone during her rooting around into his life and begins to wonder who is upset enough to harm her. Two related murders separated by 5 years throw suspicion on the staff of the local police department and others in the small town in the Sierra mountains. Kinsey's search puts her in harms way and only through skilful questioning and deduction does she arrive at the answers she seeks and escapes a final deadly encounter with the guilty party.
The story moves fairly quickly but there is a lack of tension and excitement until the final chapter where Kinsey once again survives to rule the day.
On the whole this book is not up to the standards I have come to expect from Sue Grafton but I still look forward to her next mystery "O is for Outlaw".
The book has one uncharacteristic quality for this series, Kinsey is quite slow to solve the mystery. I found that intriguing. Most problem-solving is slow and ineffective. To me, it made the story more realistic and interesting to follow. Others will call it slow plot development.
The resolution in the end is extremely unusual. It combines elements that are found in many other stories, but never in combination. It literally took my breath away. I could not read it fast enough, even though it is over quickly. Such a powerful coda after so many lento sections is an astonishing surprise, and one that worked well for me.
Although this is certainly not the best book in the series, it is a very fine one. I urge you to read it, and appreciate its strengths.