Sue Grafton takes us back to 1988 in V is for Vengeance. This is the 22nd book in her Alphabet Series, featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone. This particular story is a many-tentacled thing. Kinsey knows parts, and we know somewhat more. Grafton feeds each of us small amounts of line at a time. And if Kinsey’s lucky, she won’t get tangled beyond all recognition.

Thankfully, I was just along for the ride. And what a ride it was. Grafton includes organized crime, murder, stalking, unhealthy relationships, and so much more. And Kinsey pulls all those tentacles together and ties them in a nice, tight knot so the bad guys can’t get away.

Kinsey lives in a simpler time. In 1988 there’s no Internet, no laptops, and no smart phones. Heck, people are still using electric typewriters and carbon paper. Pretty soon these will fit in the historical fiction genre. For me, that’s part of the charm. Oh, and her octogenarian neighbor Henry’s bread baking. It’s no surprise I made corn muffins while I was listening to this book!

As for the actual mystery in this story, it was a serviceable palate cleanser. The best, most captivating mystery? Not at all. But I’m nostalgic for Grafton’s work and Kinsey’s time period. She’s about 10, maybe 15, years older than me and I feel connected to her based on decades of her stories.

My conclusions

I would recommend this series to just about anyone. It’s not quite a cozy mystery, but very close. There isn’t much blood, guts, and gore, but people do die. Somehow, Grafton makes it seem pretty benign. Don’t get me wrong—there’s suspense too. The mystery just seems pretty low key.

Kinsey is her own irascible self. In Vengeance I thought she was more petty and irritable than I remember. She carries a grudge that has apparently been percolating for eons. Maybe I’m getting old, but that wasn’t endearing. It was annoying.

Still, the bottom line is that I like these books. I’m going to finish the series this year, just to say it’s done. And because I’m using book 24, simply called X, in a reading challenge. On to W is for Wasted!