X is the second-to-last Kinsey Millhone book from Sue Grafton. Although is was published in 2015, the action happens in 1989. As always, I smile at the things Kinsey has to do to make a phone call. It’s a reminder of what some people call “simpler days.” Unless, like me, you think always having to ask to borrow people’s phones is more complicated.

Kinsey has a habit of sticking her nose where no one asked. And this book is no exception. She’s mostly killing time between better-paying gigs and helping her friend Ruth out. Ruth’s husband Pete, now deceased, was also a private investigator. He left some mysterious materials in a box, and Kinsey decides to follow the trail and possibly close the case. There’s also the small matter of helping a new client find the son she put up for adoption many years before.

Grafton often weaves a fairly complex story web, and X is no exception. She bounces us back and forth between the two plot lines, and throws in a neighborhood mystery as well. Kinsey’s charming octogenarian landlord Henry is still spry. He’s trying to solve the mystery of a too-high water bill, especially considering the water conservation techniques he’s put in place.

My conclusions

All in all, this was a pleasing outing in Santa Teresa. Kinsey is still uniquely prickly, but she whines less than in the last book. Her investigative methods are pretty straightforward, and the running commentary about every small detail pulls the story along.

I especially appreciate her internal dialogue before her witness interviews. She debates the level of truth telling necessary, and somehow that just amuses me.

Grafton’s villians this time are hidden in corners. It’s not simple to tell the good guys and bad guys apart. And each story line’s suspense is relatively strong. All in all, this one worked for me. I’m going to miss Kinsey, but I’ll put the last book off for a bit and string out the goodbyes.