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BOOK REVIEW: S IS FOR SILENCE
BY SUE GRAFTON

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The popular "alphabet" series featuring private investigator Kinsey Milhone returns with a few new features. After widespread curiosity among her readers about the time frame of her character's adventures, Grafton has begun to include a reference to the time of the events she portrays. So now we know that Milhone worked in the late 1980's, before the widespread use of cellphones and computers in everyday life.

Kinsey is approached by a woman seeking answers to the disappearance of her mother, last seen in 1953. Daisy Sullivan has lived a restless life since her mother Violet vanished, along with a fancy new car and a pesky little Pomeranian dog. Daisy wants to know what happened, and she's willing to hire Kinsey for a five day period.

Grafton presents her story with chapters alternating between Kinsey asking questions, checking newspaper files, and interviewing those who might remember Violet Sullivan; and chapters flashing back to the days and weeks immediately before her disappearance. We learn that Violet was not a particularly admirable woman, using her sexual charms to entice a wide variety of men to do her bidding and meanwhile flaunting the evidence of physical abuse dished out by her husband.

Not surprisingly, there is quite a sizeable list of people who had reason to wish Violet out of the way - but perhaps Violet had made good on her threats to take off for a new life in another town? When part of the truth emerges, the picture is not a pretty one - and rather abruptly Kinsey finds that she herself is in danger.

Although Grafton's alternating chapters provide an enticing piece by piece unveiling of the truth, they also work to interrupt the flow of the story and I did not understand the motivation of all the characters involved in the final solution.

REVIEWED BY WOODSTOCK

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, WOODSTOCK

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