O is for Outlaw
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Wise-cracking, staunchly independent, and chronically curious, Grafton's gritty gumshoe Kinsey Millhone is back. This time, the alphabet series star will take on the toughest case to date: her past. What begins as a random phone call from a "storage space scavenger" (someone who buys the contents of defaulted storage units) leads Kinsey to a box of old papers and personal effects that her ex-husband, Mickey Magruder, left behind. Inside, she finds a 15-year-old unsent letter from a bartender that, among other things, reveals her former hubby was having an affair. The letter also contains details about the murder of a transient--a crime for which Mickey was blamed. Although never convicted, Mickey was ruined--losing his job, wife, and friends. But 15 years later, Kinsey realizes that foul play may have been involved in the murder, a deadly temptation for her.
Die-hard fans will especially enjoy Kinsey's self-disclosure--something she's infamous for not doing--about her childhood, the fate of her parents, and the randy details of her first marriage. A very vulnerable and interesting side to Kinsey's character is also revealed when her obsessive-compulsive fact-finding bent is mixed up with matters of the heart.
A fast, fun read, O Is for Outlaw is packed with Grafton's clear, colorful imagery and signature metaphors: "Our recollection of the past is not simply distorted by our faulty perception of events remembered, but skewed by those forgotten. The memory is like orbiting twin stars, one visible, one dark, the trajectory of what's evident forever affected by the gravity of what's concealed." --Rebekah Warren --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Grafton's fans will be thrilled with this knockout 15th Kinsey Millhone mystery, which deals with Kinsey's first marriage. In a complex story that zigzags between past and present, the California PI gets involved again with her first ex-husband, former cop Michael "Mickey" Magruder, who initially reappears in her life by chance when she comes across memorabilia he kept after their separation 14 years earlier. The mementos include an undelivered letter addressed to Kinsey, providing Mickey with an alibi for the beating death of Vietnam vet Benny Quintero, the unproven charge against Mickey that prompted Kinsey to leave him. Conscience-stricken, Kinsey looks up acquaintances from her early marriage, questioning her judgment and values at the time. Then two Los Angeles police detectives inform her that Mickey has been shot and is in a coma, and Kinsey decides to investigate. As usual in Grafton's novels, the PI encounters a string of offbeat characters who lead or mislead her in a gyre of confusion; here, many of them had motive and opportunity to shoot Mickey. In time, Kinsey stumbles on a clueAat first bewilderingAthat leads back to the Vietnam War and, eventually, points the way to Benny's killer and Mickey's assailant. In addition to her distinctive humor, sharp sense of place and crisp dialogue defining character, Grafton adds depth to this outing through unexpected details of Kinsey's past. Meanwhile, Kinsey's examination of her youthful self-righteousness and na?vet? initiates a provocative contemplation of guilt, morals and loyalty that graces one of the very best entries in a long-lived and much-loved series. Agent, Molly Friedrich at Aaron Priest. $500,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection; author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the one about her her first husband, a cop falsely accused of killing. All the novels are self-contained but this is series that is well worth starting with A is for Alibi. It's kind of like reading Proust as characters reappear.
She likes to set every scene carefully. Buildings, weather, clothing, food and characters' physical appearance are all carefully described with details about how they look, how they sound and how they smell. Some readers may find this holds things up. Kinsey Milhone is put in peril at the end of each book and saved in the nick of time, and this sometimes gets implausible. The novels are all set within a fairly narrow times frame, in the 1980's (no cell phones or DNA evidence) and another implausibility is that of a private eye handling two or three murders a year, but if we worried about that we wouldn't be reading private eye stories anyway. Otherwise a perfect writer.
Investigation of both the past and present reveals an entirely different picture of things from what Kinsey had believed, and it becomes a whodunit until the real villain is revealed. Along the way, we discover some flaws in Kinsey's own character. She risks major criminal prosecution to obtain some minor gains (the scene with the dog is funny), and fails to cooperate with the police to the point of being obstructive. She also does enough dumb things to make one wonder how she survives. Perhaps the criminals are dumber.
Overall, the book is light reading for a rainy day. There is some violence, but nothing overly graphic. There is some mention of sexual encounters, but nothing descriptive.
The story takes place in Santa Teresa, California. A woman by the name Kinsey Millhone was married to a former wild LA cop, Mickey Magrude, who loved his job more then his own family. About ten years prior Mickey was caught in the middle of a fatal beating of a man with at a well-known cop hang out, the Honky Tonk. All fingers seem to be pointing at Mickey, but he swore he never laid a blow on the man. Mickey asked Kinsey to lie for him (about where he was that night) and she walked out on him. Ten years later, she gets a call from a complete stranger asking if she wants her stuff back.. she goes to get a box of her belongings that had been auctioned off because Mickey wasn't paying his storage fees. She goes through the stuff and finds a letter from a woman by the name Dixie who was the bartended at the Honky Tonk. Well come to find out Mickey and she had been together that night and he had nothing to do with the mans death. The reason he asked her to lie was so he did not hurt Kinsey. Kinsey goes to find Mickey to settle their problems but finds out in her investigation to find him that he has resonantly been shot, but the gun used was Kinsey's.Read more ›
p.s. The minor characters in this book, like Henry and the two maiden sisters, are so charming as to be worth the price of the book, though Grafton does seem to have an inexplicable penchant for octogenarians.
Most recent customer reviews
I really enjoyed this book. I've read other/most of the alphabet series by Sue Grafton and this is one of the best. Read morePublished on April 13 2004 by Mrs taz
It's pretty hard to keep a series going this long without readers saying yeah, yeah, yeah, enough already. Not so with Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone. Read morePublished on Nov. 2 2003 by Peggy Vincent
Grafton's writing just gets better and better! In O IS FOR OUTLAW, Kinsey Millhone has to deal with a violent assault on her ex-husband at the same time that she's a suspect in the... Read morePublished on May 31 2003 by MLPlayfair
Grafton is now back in form after being in the dumps with "'M' is for Malice" and "'N' is for Noose". This one will endure as one of her better novels. Read morePublished on March 5 2003
The author was recommended to me by a voracious reader of mystery, a good friend whose opinion I respected. Unfortunately, the book was banal. Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2002 by Amazon Customer
If you aren't a Kinsey fan and you're looking at getting into the series - you should probably start at the beginning. Not that you couldn't enjoy this book by itself. Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2002 by David C. Anderson
Sue Grafton just keeps spelling out winner after winner and "O is for Outlaw" proves that to her avid fans. Read morePublished on May 26 2002 by Beverly J. Scott