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 the Hardcover edition.
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 the Hardcover edition.
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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.
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I generally love Grafton's sly observations, but this book is a little too hard on small-town folk. A bigger problem is the ending. Kinsey is uncharacteristically slow at narrowing the suspect list; I was way ahead of her. But worse, the solution comes down to a convoluted code written by someone who had no reason to leave a coded message. You only do that with things like safe combinations or computer passwords that you don't dare write plainly, but are afraid of forgetting. Here, there was no risk that the code-writer would forget the information: and therefore no reason to write it down. Instead, the code exists only so Grafton can tantalize Kinsey (and the reader) with it: a serious plotting error.
I'd give "N" 2 1/2 stars if that were an option. Because it's Kinsey, it gets three.
Most recent customer reviews
In "N" is for Noose, Kinsey is letting herself in for more than she can handle. Selma Newquist lost her husband in an untimely heart attack as he was driving home. Read morePublished on June 13 2004 by J. Kirkman
By now, Grafton's heroine, Kinsey Millhone, is well established amongst the ranks of female detectives. This book possibly isnlt the best of the series. Read morePublished on April 4 2004 by saliero
Kinsey has just come back from playing nurse to her sometime-lover Dietz who has undergone knee replacement surgery. Read morePublished on May 5 2003 by Karen Potts
Unlike the preceding 13 novels in this series, Millhone is having a week of rather bad hair days in this one and it shows. Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2003
I think most of us here rate a book on the basis of our own tastes--what kinds of books we personally enjoy reading. Read morePublished on Dec 20 2002
I actually like the slow and frustrating investigation by Kinsey. The plot pulled me right in - all the agonizing twists and turns. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2002 by Puneet Tanwar
(audio version)That about sums up my reaction to most of this book. It was slow, overly descriptive (I fastforwarded through large sections without missing plot details... Read morePublished on July 29 2002