(hb; 2015: twenty-fourth book in the Kinsey Millhone mysteries)
From the inside flap:
"X: The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.
"X: The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.
"X: The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.
"Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim."
X is a sometimes chatty, entertaining entry in the Kinsey Millhone novels, with a few effective but not earth-shattering twists thrown into its triply-mysterious tale. It lacks any white-knuckle moments (for this reader, anyway). (Note that this is not a criticism, merely an observation.)
One of the things I enjoyed about X was that Grafton, in this book, has abandoned the multiple point-of-view chapters. It was all Kinsey, this time out.
Another thing I liked is how Grafton allowed the "bad guys" -- some of whom were not entirely "bad" -- to talk like regular people, making them more interesting and relatable and making X more realistic. Grafton has done this before, of course, but it is still an effective writing choice. (On the flip side of that, Ned Lowe is an especially slimy character, and that characterization is effective, too.)
X is a good read, worth checking you are a Grafton fan who is not on the "why doesn't Grafton write shorter, terser novels?" bandwagon. (Again, this is not a criticism of those readers. It is a friendly caveat to those who fit that description. Cheers.)