S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin
It has been 34 years since Daisy Sullivan last saw her mother. Violet walked out of the house on the 4th of July, and neither she nor her fancy new car were ever seen again. For her entire life, Daisy waited, sure her mother will either come back, or contact her. Now, able to stand it no longer, she is hiring Kinsey Millhone to track Violet down.
This was my first ever Sue Grafton book (feel free to gasp in surprise). I lucked out in getting S: Is for Silence, because in S Kinsey is a bit out of her geographic comfort zone. The majority of the action takes place in the small rural town where Daisy Sullivan grew up and still lives, and half of it even takes place in the past, the week or so before Violet’s disappearance. Since Kinsey lives in the 1980s, she isn’t exactly speaking to Cheney on her cell phone. In fact, Cheney’s role is almost nonexistent, he is mentioned only enough that I know there is something going on between them, and if I hadn’t read Nicole’s review of R is for Ricochet I wouldn’t even have known what that something is. This general lack of Kinsey’s personal life means that I, as a new reader, wasn’t confused about Kinsey’s past or relationships, but could just enjoy her story.
Why yes, I did mention a few sentences ago that the ‘present’ of S is for Silence is the 1980s. I must admit, that really, really threw me, considering the book was published in 2005. I get that Grafton began writing her series in the early 1980s, but it definitely threw me that time in Kinsey’s world moves so much slower than it does in ours. I think I was expecting it to be more like Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series which started around the same time, the most recent of which, Body Work, was set in the present. Although it pulled me out of the story a few times, though, the setting of the story in the 1980s was no hindrance, and there were several scenes that worked much better not having to explain why someone was unable to make a cell phone call (although Kinsey lugging her typewriter around still weirded me out).
As a heroine, Kinsey is smart, tough, and a lot of fun. I can definitely see why people enjoy Grafton’s ‘Alphabet Series.’
Exclusive V is for Vengeance Excerpt
If you missed the first four sneak peeks and other reviews or Q&As, check them out: Lesa’s Book Critiques | Jen’s Book Thoughts | Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White | Linus’s Blanket. And on Thursday, October 13, head on over to Kittling: Books for the next installment of V!
V is for Vengeance will be released by Putnam Books on November 14, 2011.
“Take a good look at yourself. Time to give up this poker shit and get a job. You’re wasting your life. Are you hearing me?”
“Absolutely. Yes. This will never happen again. It’s been a valuable lesson. I’m out of here. I’m gone. No more poker, I swear. This has been a wake-up call. I can’t thank you enough.”
“Cappi, you take care of this.” Dante dismissed Phillip with a gesture. “Jesus, put some clothes on. You look like a girl.”
All three men looked on without comment as Phillip gathered his clothes. He’d have preferred going into the bathroom to dress in privacy, but he didn’t want to risk another round of verbal abuse. Three minutes later, Cappi, Nico, and Phillip traversed the hotel, bypassing the elevator in favor of the stairs. Phillip said, “Why can’t we take the elevator?”
Cappi stopped so fast, Phillip nearly stumbled into him. Cappi poked him in the chest with his index ﬁnger. “Let me tell you something. I’m in charge now, you got that? We do it by the book, no ifs, ands, or buts.”
“I didn’t hear him say we had to walk up.”
Cappi was in his face with his beefy breath. “You know what your problem is? You’re always thinking someone has to make an exception for you. Do it your way, on your terms. That’s not how it works. He says take you up. I’m taking you up. He wants to see how the car drives, okay? He wants to know what kind of shape it’s in. You say pristine, but we only have your word for it. All he knows, it’s a piece of shit.”
Phillip dropped the protest. Ten more minutes and this would all be over with. He’d cash in his four hundred dollars’ worth of chips and buy a bus ticket home. The two began to climb, Phillip clearly out of shape. After two ﬂights he was winded. He had no idea how he’d explain what had happened to his car, but he’d deal with one problem at a time.
They reached the top level of the parking garage. While only six stories high, the night view was dramatic, lights as far as he could see. He spotted the Lady Luck two blocks over, the Four Queens across the street, so close he felt he could reach out and touch the sign. The lot was jammed with vehicles, but the Porsche stood out, gleaming red in the light, not a speck of dust on it. Cappi snapped his ﬁngers. “Lemme see the keys.”
Phillip fumbled in his pants pocket and came up with the car keys. Nico didn’t seem interested. He stood with his arms crossed, looking off to one side like he had better things to do. Phillip thought he’d be the one who looked under the hood, but maybe he didn’t know anything about cars. He doubted Cappi was any kind of expert.
Three guys stepped out of the elevator. Phillip thought they were mechanics or parking attendants until he noticed they wore blue latex gloves. This struck him as odd at ﬁrst, and then as alarming. He backed up a step, but no one said anything and no one made eye contact. Without a word, they approached and picked him up, one grabbing him under the arms while another was lifting his feet. The third man pulled his wallet from his back pocket and ﬂipped off his shoes. The two men hauled him closer to the parapet and began to swing him back and forth.
Phillip struggled, thrashing, his voice shrill with fear. “What are you doing?”
Irritably, Cappi said, “What’s it look like? Dante says take care of it. I’m taking care of it.”
“Wait! We had a deal. We’re square.”
“Here’s the deal, Fuck Face.”
The men swinging him had built up momentum. He thought they might not be serious. He thought they were trying only to scare him. Then he felt himself hoisted over the rail. Suddenly he was airborne, falling so fast he couldn’t make a sound before he hit the pavement below.
Cappi peered over the wall. “Now we’re square, you little prick.”