Monday, April 12, 2010

L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton

Book Details
L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
Paperback, 304 pages
2009, St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN: 0312373139
Series: Book 12 in the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet series

Bemused, beleaguered and begrimed, Southern California's premier PI, Kinsey Millhone leaves her hometown of Santa Teresa in an adventure (her 12th in the alphabet series) that begins straightforwardly enough but quickly twists into a knotted string of untruths. While getting ready for the Thanksgiving Day wedding between a local tavern keeper and the elder brother of her landlord, Kinsey agrees to help the family of recently deceased neighborhood WWII vet, Johnnie Lee, find out why the military has no record of his service. Soon after Kinsey has finished looking (fruitlessly) through his papers, Lee's rooms are burgled, and Ray Rawson, who claims he is an old friend recently arrived in Santa Teresa unaware of Lee's death, is beaten up. Kinsey soon finds herself on a plane bound for Florida, in possession of only the clothes she's wearing and her purse( with an extra toothbrush), trailing a young pregnant woman in possession of a duffel bag spirited from Lee's home. On a stopover in Dallas/Fort Worth, Kinsey sleuths disguised as a hotel maid dusting baseboards ("tough to picture the boy detectives doing this," she reflects), meets the increasingly unreliable Rawson again and encounters yet another figure from Lee's past, a violent, vengeful psychopath. While gradually sorting out the connections among this cast, Kinsey travels to Louisville, where Rawson's 80-something mother proves her mettle and Kinsey, determining that lawless, in this case, is neither adjective nor collective noun, unravels a decades-old mystery.

Books in the Alphabet series go one of two ways. Either they are completely about the mystery or the mystery is in the background somewhere. L is for Lawless is one of the books that is more criminal joyride than mystery.

Kinsey is wrapped up in a pro-bono case for a friend of a friend. Unfortunately, she doesn't use many detecting skills while investigating this case. More often than not, secondary characters give her whatever information she needs without her even asking. She's lied to a lot, but she doesn't seem to even figure that out on her own. The liars eventually confess each lie when the correct information is necessary.

I love this series, but L is for Lawless isn't nearly the best of the bunch. The highlight of the entire book was Henry's brothers and sister visiting for Rosie and William's wedding, but we only got to see a lot of them in the first few chapters. L is for Lawless isn't a book I would recommend to anyone other than a series completist. It's not a bad book, but there are far better ones in the series if you're only going to read a few.


Sue Grafton's website


  1. I've read a few of her books and have enjoyed them. I'd probably read this one just because I'm a nut at having to read the entire series!
    I guess there's always going to be one bad egg out of the bunch! Thanks for the review,
    Natalie :0)

  2. Hard to believe but I have NEVER read any of these. I did get the first one for the letter A though so I know at some point in the future I will get around to it!

  3. I'm pretty sure I've seen these books before, but I haven't started the series. Too bad L is for Lawless didn't live up to the rest!

  4. I love Sue Grafton but I have to agree, L is for Lawless was one of my least favorite ones out of all the series.

  5. I used to red these when I was in High School and forgot all about them, I might have to revisit, I remember them being fun but harmless

  6. Believe it or not I have the first 3 and haven't read them yet. I have heard they are great, think I am going to have to get to reading them :)

  7. I loved the way you reviewed this one. I can't remember which letter I left off on!!!

  8. I have not read any in this series! Do they have threads that pull all the way through?

  9. I've not read this series, too. What is the best book? Thank you for the review!