By Mark Harris
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:48 AM EDT

P is For Peril

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If you haven’t tried Sue Grafton yet, you’re missing a sterling example of the mystery writer’s craft at its low key, disciplined best. Grafton’s portrayal of 36 year old, twice divorced Santa Teresa private eye Kinsey Millhone, which launched in 1982, should be going soft, sour, or irrelevant — especially since poor Kinsey, who hasn’t had much romantic action since around ”G is for Gumshoe” and who only ages a few months per novel, is still stuck in 1986, and her world seems small and solitary. But Grafton keeps contriving credible, engrossing cases (P Is for Peril is about rest home fraud and two very nasty wives) and freshening Kinsey’s dry, observant voice. (She also gets points for not wasting a word, up through the last, startling page.) In interviews, Grafton has cited the late great Ross MacDonald, creator of the sun drenched noir Lew Archer novels, as an influence. Twenty years into Kinsey’s run, she’s become his rightful heir.

P is For Peril

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