Guest Review of Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series – Guest Reviewer Sarah Daltry

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Book Troll has been lucky enough to welcome two guest reviewers over the last month or so. Laura Del has helped review a books for us, and will continue as time allows. Today we are fortunate to have Author Sarah Daltry join us. We have been huge fans of Sarah’s and welcome her to review on the blog anytime.

Sarah’s Bio:
Sarah Daltry is the author of No Such Thing as Perfect, Dust, Backward Compatible, Bitter Fruits, and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. As a former English teacher and YA library coordinator, Sarah has always loved books and her passion in life is writing – weaving tales of magic and beauty. She originally wrote romance, but Sarah’s real focus is lyrical and introspective fiction that gets to the heart of being whole.

Sarah is an obsessive Anglophile who spends more time watching BBC TV than any human being should, as well as a hardcore gamer, feminist, hermit, and sarcastic nerd. She’s extremely introverted and craves quiet and solitude, but she does enjoy hearing from readers. Find her online at http://sarahdaltry.com or on Facebook.

Thank you Sarah for joining us!

sarah

I’ve been reading the Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton for several years now, so I knew I wanted the newest one for Christmas. However, the last one I finished was T is for Trespass in 2012. I knew I had U is for Undertow, so I added V is for Vengeance to my Christmas list, assuming that would be this year’s addition. Then, when I decided to catch up on the series, I realized I already had it. Of course, I ended up getting it a second time as well. I ended up using a gift card to pick up W is for Wasted. That’s the only one I have left to read now, having read U is for Undertow and V is for Vengeance over the last couple weeks.

aThis is less of a review of those two books than an overall introduction to the series for people who haven’t read them. Unlike many series, this is a very easy one to follow in order. Start at A is for Alibi and go from there. You could easily read each book as a standalone, as each one is one mystery that begins and ends within the novel. However, there’s a lot of crossover between books with the main character and side character and since it’s so easy to follow the order, it just makes sense to start at the beginning.

These are mysteries featuring a private detective named Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey’s an independent and smart-ass heroine that’s easily engaging for a reader. She’s not confused or inept, but she does still have to discover information along with us. I like that she is able to hold her own even in the most dangerous situations, though. She is a trained detective after all! Since Grafton wrote the first books in the 1980’s, she has remained consistent with the timeline, although so much time has passed for us as readers. Kinsey’s still in 1988 right now. I like this detail, because even when it takes a couple of years for a book to come out, the events occur only a few weeks after the last book. It maintains the feeling of a true detective’s life.

As far as the quality of the books, I would say they each average in the three to four stars range. Only one of them really stands out for me: S is for Silence. That was easily a five star read and I still remember what it was about. As with any ongoing series, especially with this many titles, they all start to run one into the other, and it is hard to remember what happened in each. However, while reading them, they’re fast-paced, fun, and well-researched. That’s important for a mystery, of course, and I love that these are real mysteries. You are given clues and you figure out what’s happening alongside Kinsey. I will say that the earlier books were slightly more on the mystery, while some of the newer ones switch POV between Kinsey and other players, so you end up knowing more than she does. Although it’s a nice change of pace here and there, I hope we go back to the roots as the series wraps up, because I like the detecting and deduction part most.s

I love the way that Grafton weaves her character’s life into the stories. Each book also gives us some of Kinsey’s daily routine, such as her relationship with her landlord, Henry, or her failed love life. (I sincerely applaud Grafton on that part of her books – Kinsey is independent and there are only a few instances when there is romance in these books. Sometimes it feels like authors force a love story or love interest into a book, but when I’m reading a mystery, I want a mystery. Otherwise, I would read a romance novel.)

Although none of the books is at the top of my favorite books of all time or really warrants a five star review for me (except the one), I truly look forward to each. These are consistent additions to my Christmas lists and I’ve read the entire series from A through V at this point, so she’s doing something right. I eventually gave up on the Alex Cross and Kay Scarpetta books, because they started feeling redundant or I felt like I might have missed a book somewhere in the mix, but between the easy ordering, the minimal time lapses between the actual story events, and the unique and fun heroine, Sue Grafton’s books are a go-to read. If you haven’t started this series, I highly recommend it.

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