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Book Reviews

April, 2004

Q is for Quarry
book cover, Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton; 136x220
Q is for Quarry, (p/b, 562p, A$18.95)

Kinsey Milhone is back, this time investigating a mystery inspired by a real-life crime.

In 1969 the body of a young girl is found by two off-duty detectives: Con Dolan and Stacey Oliphant. Now, years later, the two men have been retired out for health reasons. Still friends, they agree to call in Kinsey to help them discover the identity and killer of the young girl in the daisy-print pants.

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Each of the men takes Kinsey aside and asks her help distract his friend from his own problems, health and otherwise. For Kinsey, originally trained as a detective by two older men, this is a chance to rediscover a relationship that she has missed.

Unlike, of course, the problematic relationship she has with her recently discovered relatives. Kinsey is a terrier, she solves problems through tenacity, even that of her "family". "It feels like unfinished business and that bothers me. Regardless of how it comes out, I'd like to think I'm doing the right thing."

Kinsey's real family is her neighbour and landlord Henry, Rosie who runs the tavern down the street, and small handful of people to fit in with her liking for small spaces and simple conditions.

"... the comfort of isolation versus cloying suffocation; independence versus bondage; safety versus betrayal. It was not in my makeup to imagine emotional states in between. My life wasn't perfect, but I knew its limitations."

As with the best of the crime genre, the Kinsey Milhone stories have a strong sense of place. In Q is for Quarry the team travel to very small towns in the California desert to discover the unknown girl's origins.

This novel is Grafton in her prime, swift and sure in characterisation, well-researched in its police and investigative methodology. She relies on the right combination of luck and hard work that makes the story, and the job, interesting.

by Ali Kayn

See also: Sue Grafton book page for Kinsey Milhone

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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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