X

X

Book - 2015
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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.

Publisher: New York :, Marian Wood Book/G.P. Putnam's Sons,, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780399163845
Branch Call Number: MYS GRA
Characteristics: 403 pages ; 24 cm

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j
jackkrista
Jul 30, 2017

It develops slowly - is there a case here is the question. There must be or what would the book be for? A friend's husband has been killed in a seemingly "wrong place at the wrong time" situation - he's a former private detective with questionable ethics who used to work with Kinsey. Yet little things are strange - the IRS has shown up to ensure back taxes are paid, way back, records disappear, a newly released jail inmate needs tracing and Kinsey gets visited by the police a few days later to discuss it, old suicides are questioned, and the like. We probably learn more about Kinsey Millhone's idiosyncrasies then we need to know - her PI job means she has to keep a fresh pair of underwear in her car just in case of a very long stake-out, and she becomes anxious when her gas tank falls below 1/3rd! It takes off eventually but the book is longer than many of the others in the series and one asks why!

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

For an IRS inquiry, Kinsey agreed to help Pete's widow Ruth to look for financial files in a box she kept during the "W Is for Wasted" investigation. Lo and behold, one thing led to another ... it was in her nature to keep digging. Meanwhile, she took on a domestic case and also an interest in her new neighbors. A good read.

b
bjwatkins
Apr 19, 2016

Sue Grafton rarely disappoints. Even though this alphabet series has been around for awhile each book seems to be full of new aspects. Her characters are well developed and I look forward to see how they are getting along from book to book. A good read.

If you haven't started with the first book in this series ("A is for Alibi"), I'd recommend starting there. Otherwise, you know how good this series is! If you like your private investigators tough, savvy, witty and set in the late 1980s (no cell phones, basic computers), this series is for you! Recommended by Jeffrey

h
htliang
Jan 14, 2016

People who have previously enjoyed Sue Grafton's "Kinsey Millhone" novels, will also like this one. Kinsey is just as competent, uncompromising, and compassionate as always. Grafton gives us a little lesson in "X", as she does in most of her stories. She shows us that the rich are not always greedy and heartless, and the elderly are not always frail and innocent.

b
Blabbermouth
Dec 26, 2015

It wasn't as exciting & did lack the suspense of her other stories but it was good to be back with our old friend Kinsey. The villain from this book is Ned Lowe & he hasn't been apprehended yet, maybe he will appear in Y or Z. I'll still line up to read the next Kinsey book.

g
gloryb
Dec 03, 2015

While this novel has the usual phone book checks, library visits for news articles, municipal office visits for property ownership, surveillance details, and continuous commentary about Henry and Rosie, the novel lacks the suspense from dangerous villains on the loose, shoot outs, or even hand-to hand fights as in the previous novels in this alphabet series. The author now finds providing the routine details of Kinsey's life such as her usual morning runs as "boring". However, one thing this novel does have going for it is the familiarity that readers will have for previously established characters, the setting they live in, and the year that the action takes place in. Several story strands are interwoven into this novel. Take your pick which one you prefer, but in case Kinsey is still the investigator and the outcome depends on her actions.

g
gogo12127
Nov 20, 2015

X takes place in March of 1989, just a few years removed from when Grafton wrote A is for Alibi, over twenty-five years ago. Kinsey and her next door neighbor, Henry Pitt, have aged little in the intervening years. Kinsey is in her late thirties, and Harry is eighty nine. Kinsey still uses a Smith Corona. No computer, no mobile telephone, no Internet. She rents a three room office in downtown Santa Teresa (Santa Barbara) for $350 a month.

r
robyn45
Nov 09, 2015

I look forward to Sue Grafton's next alphabet book, and this was no exception...however.... I wonder who was writing this? It wasn't her best. Long, long descriptions about her driving... turning a corner.... etc. Almost like she didn't know what to write, but had pages to fill. I very nearly gave up on the book, but struggled through just because it's Sue. I sure hope the last two are better. VERY disappointed.

b
bookpusher
Nov 08, 2015

It doesn't pay to be curious, lmao.....another great addition to the series. Bring on Y!!

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Quotes

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j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

Self-employment is a mixed bag. The upside is freedom. Go to work when you like, come home when you like, and wear anything you please. While you still have bills to pay, you can accept a new job or decline. It’s all up to you. The downside is uncertainty, the feast-or-famine mentality not everyone can tolerate. ... I’m female, thirty-eight years old, twice divorced, and childless, a status I maintain with rigorous attention to my birth control pills.
===
I don’t drink. I don’t go out, and the only people I talk to are under thirty-six inches tall.
===
“Just because he made one mistake doesn’t mean every choice he made was wrong. People change. Sometimes we have reason to stop and take stock.”
===
...my notion of fair play was set, and, in sum, it is this: the righteous are struck down while the sticky-fingered escape. I’ve labored all my life to see that justice plays out the other way around.

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

Any work he did afterward was strictly catch-as-catch-can.
===
I envied her black leather shoulder bag, which was bigger than mine and appeared to have more compartments.
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This is the downside of intuition: when it feels so exactly right, other people’s skepticism is infuriating.
===
I know they happen in life, but you’ve been plagued with happy accidents and it seems off to me.
===
The practice of baring all, analyzing every nuance embedded in a quarrel, is a surefire way to keep an argument alive. Better to establish a temporary peace and revisit the conflict later.
===
“But what would you do if you retired? You’d go nuts.”
“That’s a worry, now you mention it. I’m not one for needlework, and you can only read so many books before your eyesight fails. Someone suggested volunteer work, but that’s out of the question. I’m accustomed to being paid, and the idea of giving away my time and my skills is an affront..."

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

“Oh, come off it. You didn’t ‘disagree.’ You disapproved.”
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Ego puffery will get you into trouble every time, but what else was I to do?
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I’d committed the two cardinal sins in the catechism of a private eye:
1. Never allow your car to get low on gas. I was looking at a third of a tank at best. Now I was in a hurry and had no time to top it off.
2. Never pass up a chance to pee.
===
I knew my current obsession was an emotional state called “psychological assessment”—an endless revisiting of events in hopes the outcome would change.
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“You felt no compassion for his Marfan syndrome?”
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I have clients you’d swear up and down were total, unmitigated slobs, but they’re actually the opposite—so hell-bent on ‘clean and tidy,’ they can’t even start.

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

Valium in those days. They referred to it as Vitamin V. If you complained about anything, Valium was the cure.
===
The one-story structure was of an uncertain architectural style that probably dated to the years just after World War II, when the country was recovering from steel shortages and throwing together new construction with whatever materials happened to be at hand.
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The groundwater was once plentiful. Runoff from snowpack in the high Sierras. Rain and more rain and the rivers were full up. One hundred and fifty years back, water was diverted at People’s Weir on the Kings River. The Kern River was diverted as well. Drought came around again and the water was cut back again as well, so the farmers around here refurbished the old pumping plants and drilled new wells. Nobody thought about the consequences.

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

“You don’t believe in ghosts?” “I don’t know if I believe or not. There was one occasion when I was convinced there was a ‘presence,’ for lack of a better word, but my saying so doesn’t mean it’s true.”
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I’d been a biter as a kid and I can still remember the feel of flesh between my teeth. It’s like biting a rubber bathing cap, in case you’re curious.
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... a drive-time talk show, which usually consisted of two guys blabbing about nothing in particular, their “hilarious” banter more amusing to them than it was to anyone else.
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his. Both our mothers had conniption fits, but so what?
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Redfern. I remembered the intensity of high school, all those hormones, like spotlights, casting events in high relief. Everything felt like forever. Love, betrayal, impossible crushes, breakups, jealousies, and yearnings.

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

“What’s their relationship like?”
“Very compatible. He’s a bully and she’s a mouse."
===
“Why haven’t I ever heard of burking?”
“You’ll find references once you start looking for them..."
===
“Simply put, cause of death is the reason the individual died, as would be the case with a heart attack or a gunshot wound. The mechanism of death would be the actual changes that affect the victim’s physiology, resulting in death. Death from a fatal stabbing, for instance, might be extreme blood loss. “The manner of death is how the death came about. Five of the six possibilities there are natural, accidental, suicide, homicide, and undetermined. The sixth classification would be ‘pending’ if the matter’s still under investigation, ..."

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

I couldn’t understand how any woman would be attracted to him, but people tell me I’m way too picky, so perhaps I’m the wrong one to ask.
===
I could see the appeal of living a stone’s throw from the ocean. The sounds were restful and it was lovely to look out and see nothing but ocean all the way out to the horizon. On the downside, the salt air took its toll and the occasional strong storm could plant a sailboat in your front yard.
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He’d think about how fortunate he and his siblings were: able-bodied, mentally sharp, blessed with good health, and comfortable financially because they’d figured out all those years ago that saving for the future, while not always easy, would be prudent.

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

How COULD you? Without so much as a by-your-leave?”
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“I never know what to make of conversations like this,” I said. “I sometimes have this fantasy that life would be wonderful if only my mother and my father were alive. Then I hear stories like yours and I want to get down on my hands and knees and rejoice.”
===
Any good liar will tell you that stitching in the occasional point of fact gives a fabricated story a certain ring of truth.
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“Just because I couldn’t solve my own problems doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a go at yours.”
“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you’ll have to let us muddle through on our own.”
===
“So Greeks should only marry Greeks?”
“If you knew any, you wouldn’t have to ask.”

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

Success at hand-to-hand combat is predicated on traction and balance, on the landing of solid kicks, on strikes with knuckles, elbows, and knees. I thought about all the orderly exercises I’d participated in, learning self-defense. In class, grabbing your opponent’s arm gave you sufficient leverage to turn the tables on him, dispatching your assailant with speed. Hair grabs and forearm blocks, heel stomps to your attacker’s instep, a chop to the back of his neck. Head butt, followed by elbow smash to the solar plexus. I could flip my opponent with the best of them.
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I pictured the books on self-defense with the stern admonitions to jab your attacker’s eyes while you snapped a knee to his groin. In my current prone position, none of that was possible. I was going to die here and I wanted my money back.
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When it comes to work, it isn’t so much what we do or how much we’re paid; it’s the satisfaction we take in doing it.

j
jimg2000
Jun 14, 2017

There’s a commonly accepted assumption that the rich are greedy and uncaring and the elderly are frail and ineffectual. This isn’t always the case, of course. Sometimes it’s old people who lie, cheat, and steal.
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The change wasn’t quite that literal, but I could see it come over him and I knew enough to get out of his way. I thought of it as his seasonal affective disorder because it happened in the spring, like an allergy.”
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The more I see of the world, the more I understand that justice isn’t cut-and-dried. There are more compromises than you’d imagine, and rightly so. Law and order, punishment and fair play, are all on a continuum where there are far more gray stretches than there are black and white. I’m making my peace with this. In the main, I believe people are good. In the main, I believe the judicial system works.

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