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Kinsey Millhone Series, Book 24
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Of #1 New York Times–bestselling author Sue Grafton, NPR's Maureen Corrigan said, "Makes me wish there were more than 26 letters." With only two letters left, Grafton's many devoted readers will share that sentiment.

X:
The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.

X:
The shortest entry in Webster's Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.

X:
The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.
Sue Grafton's X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.


From the Hardcover edition.

Of #1 New York Times–bestselling author Sue Grafton, NPR's Maureen Corrigan said, "Makes me wish there were more than 26 letters." With only two letters left, Grafton's many devoted readers will share that sentiment.

X:
The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.

X:
The shortest entry in Webster's Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.

X:
The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.
Sue Grafton's X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book I never hear the word "Nevada" without thinking of Robert Dietz. This coming May, we would celebrate our sixth anniversary of barely ever seeing each other. Truly, in the time I'd known him, I don't think we'd been together two months at a stretch, and that was only once. But now I needed his Nevada smarts and I dialed his number in Carson City. Three rings and his machine picked up. I listened to his message, which was terse and to the point. I waited for the beep and said, "Hey, Dietz. This is Kinsey. I need a favor from you. I'm looking for a woman named Susan Telford in Henderson, Nevada, and I wondered if you'd see what you can find out. There are thirty-three Telfords listed, and it doesn't make sense for me to tackle the job from Santa Teresa. Pete Wolinsky put her name on a list of six women who are all connected in one way or another to a man named Ned Lowe. Before Pete was killed, he went to some lengths to do background on Lowe, who seems like an all-around bad egg. If you have questions, call me back, and if you don't want to do the job, that's fine. Just let me know."

    I decided it was time to convert my investigation into report form. I was formulating a sense of the relationship between Ned Lowe and the six women whose names appeared on Pete's list, but so far the link existed only in my head.

    I'd inserted paper into my typewriter when the phone rang. "Millhone Investigations."

    A gentleman with a powdery voice said, "Miss Millhone, this is Stanley Munce, formerly with the Burning Oaks Police Department. Clara Doyle told me you'd spoken to her about a case I worked on some years ago. Is that correct?"

    "Yes, sir. Absolutely. Thank you so much for calling. I was asking about Lenore Redfern Lowe."

    "That was my understanding. I'm afraid I don't have much to offer on the subject, but I will tell you what I can. I was the coroner's investigator at the time of that young girl's death. In order to complete a death certificate, the coroner has to determine the cause, mechanism, and manner of death.

    "Simply put, cause of death is the reason the individual died, as would be the case with a heart attack or gunshot wound. The mechanism of death would be the actual changes that affect the victim's physiology, resulting in death. In death from a fatal stabbing, for instance, it might be extreme blood loss.

    "The manner of death is how the death came about. Five of the six possibilities are natural, accidental, suicide, homicide, and undetermined. The sixth classification would be 'pending' if the matter's still under investigation, which is obviously not the case here. There was no question about her ingestion of Valium and alcohol. The generic diazepam is a central nervous system depressant, the effects of which can be intensified by alcohol. However, when the toxicology report came in, it appeared there wasn't a sufficient quantity of either to say with certainty death resulted from the combination of the two.

    "What seemed questionable, at least in my mind, was the presence of petechiae, which are tiny broken blood vessels, like pinpricks, visible in the area of her eyes. Hard coughing or crying are common causes; sometimes the strain of childbirth or lifting weights. Petechiae can also be a sign of death by asphyxiation."

    "You mean she might have been suffocated?"

    "Smothered, yes. There were no fractures of the larynx, hyoid bone, thyroid or cricoid cartilages, and no areas of bruising, which ruled out manual strangulation. Mrs. Lowe had been under doctor's care. With her history of mental problems, absent any other compelling evidence, Dr. Wilkinson—the coroner—felt a finding of...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 29, 2015
    An inventive plot and incisive character studies elevate MWA Grand Master Grafton’s 24th Kinsey Millhone novel (after 2013’s W Is for Wasted), which includes a variety of X’s (a divorced couple named Xanakis, a spot on a map, etc.). Wealthy Hallie Bettancourt hires the Santa Teresa, Calif., PI for a simple assignment—find Christian Satterfield, a bank robber recently released from prison who was the baby 15-year-old Hallie gave up for adoption years earlier. Meanwhile, Kinsey agrees to help her friend Ruthie Wolinsky settle some papers belonging to Ruthie’s late husband, Pete, a private detective who was shot the year before in a robbery gone wrong. The two investigations spiral into complicated personal tales. Hallie has myriad secrets, and Pete’s papers lead Kinsey to finish one of his old cases, putting her in the crosshairs of the hate-filled Ned Lowe, who may be a murderer. This superior outing will remind readers why this much-loved series will be missed as the end of the alphabet approaches. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary Agency.

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Sue Grafton
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