S is for Silence by Sue Grafton – Book Review (+ Exclusive V is for Vengeance Excerpt!)

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.’

Buy this book from: Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher. * These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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.”

Preorder this book from: Powells | Indiebound*

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24 comments to S is for Silence by Sue Grafton – Book Review (+ Exclusive V is for Vengeance Excerpt!)

  • I picked up the first in this series when I was bored in the peace corps library one day, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, and was shocked by (as you write) what a fun and smart heroine Kinsey is. Stuff like Grafton’s alphabet series always got me riled up in the States – you know, I’d start spluttering over how people could bear to read such trash. I’ve read the first two now, and am kind of in love with grafton’s style and the tone of the series, which is so much cleverer than I’d expected.

    A few months ago I read an article, I think from the new york times, about the passage of time in detective series. I tried to find this but google is letting me down today; it was a great read if you ever manage to find it, though, looking at some series & authors who opted not to slow down time (and the problems they’re running into as their detectives age and pass the normal age of retirement, get too old to race down the street after suspects) and others who came up with their own systems. I think Grafton’s was three or four of our years for each of Kinsey’s.

  • DarcyO

    Thanks for the great post. I love Kinsey and can’t wait to catch up on what she’s up to.

  • I kept up with the Kinsey Milhone series until, oh, about “L” I think. Not sure why I stopped — I always enjoyed them. Maybe I was just too saturated. Maybe I’ll pick them up again now, though.

  • Christine A.

    I am so excited for V is for Vengeance. I miss Kinsey, Henry and the crew.

  • Lolawid

    So excited for more Kinsey adventures!

  • I love Kinsey too! I thought I’d read most of the books, but the plot of that one doesn’t sound familiar. Hmm.

  • Ah, I’ve never read these but my mom has them all…I need to get on that.

  • Mary Miller

    Glad you enjoyed S is for Silence. I’ve been loving these books for years. I think it’s fun to have the time adjustment….so many times while reading I wish Kinsey had a cell phone… and remember how awful it was before them! I’m hoping she gets one by Z! As for V….poor Phillip–six story fall…YIKES!

  • Maureen

    Wow. That was a little bit of a shocker. Wonder if he survives and then looks for Revenge…….wonder what will happen next.

  • Marcia

    Yikes! I don’t think he survives. It’ll be interesting to see how Kinsey fits into the story.

  • One of the best series out there. I’m up to date and eagerly awaiting “V”!

  • I started this series one miserably lonely winter and read the first 8 or 10 books back to back. Then I was all caught up and I felt like another friend had left town! I’ve kept tabs on Kinsey since then, but it’s been a few letters – she and I really need to catch up!

  • Liz V.

    Have enjoyed Grafton for the most part.

  • Margaret

    Sounds like such a great series! Gotta read it!


  • Lisa Garrett

    P was the last one I read and I am ready to catch up!

  • Love following all of the bread crumbs being left for us. Very thoughtful idea to for the giveaway to get us to stop by all.

    Always run to poke around your site when I stop by.

  • I really am enjoying this tour. And I thought to myself why do I need to start another mystery series…LOL I like books set in the 80s before all the prevalence of the technology that is consuming us these days.

  • Sheila Dunne

    Wow-poor naive Phillip-

  • OK, I’ll admit to gasping — I’ve read them all and am surprised when fellow devourers haven’t. 😉

    As for the ’80s, I love going back with Kinsey. I only wish she came with a soundtrack… on cassette.

  • S is for Silence is one of Sue Grafton’s best.

    Una Tiers

  • I first discovered Sue Grafton’s books because of a boyfriend. He bought it for me, because he had been reading the series and he liked it. I figured that I’d give it a shot, because he was a huge reader. I got rid of the guy a few years later, but I am still way into her books. I even have my husband reading them now. :) Thanks for participating and for sharing your review. I like when I read a review by someone who has never read anything else in the series.

  • It has been a while since i have read Sue Graftons books it would be nice to catch up on her books

    silverneon2000 at yahoo dot com

  • Lori

    having fun reading all of the different reviews and blogs. Would love to read the newest book and win the contest too.