27 November 2006

"F" is for Fugitive, by Sue Grafton

November 27 2006 (19:29:00)

Random House Audio, 2001, 8 CDs, approximately 8 hours. Narrated by Judy Kaye.

I listened to an abridged version of this book on compact discs. It's a typical alphabet mystery, I've read several of these. I have always had a problem with Grafton this way: I can't remember if I've read one of these or not, the titles are so interchangeable (to me, that is), so I don't know until I'm well into one of them if it's new to me or not. That's one problem this blog should solve for me.

I don't think the alphabets will be recognized by literary critics as great classic works but then I've been wrong before. They are generally entertaining and enjoyable, and as audio books they are ideal. I use audio books to keep from getting too bored when I'm driving. This makes me a more patient and I hope a safer driver, but there is a certain division of attention involved. What I find is that anything too heavy, complicated, or serious doesn't work in this environment. Fortunately I seem to automatically just tune the "book" out and concentrate on the driving when it gets heavy. If the book requires strict attention or mental gymnastics to follow, I will lose my place and need to rewind when I get a chance. So something light like an alphabet mystery is perfect. With some of my attention I can easily follow the plot and enjoy the entertainment, with the rest I can notice the moron following too closely behind me since I'm only exceeding the speed limit by five or ten miles per hour.

Having said all this I suppose Ms. Grafton could be insulted, in the unlikely event that this lowly journal should come to her attention. If such should come to pass, however, and should she take offense at my cavalier reduction of her labor to mere brain-fodder to keep me from falling victim to boredom and road-rage at the wheel, let me say that whether I am reading her in print or by ear, I have always greatly enjoyed these novels and I think that she is very talented. Grafton creates a world for me that I am loath to leave at the end of a book. I have no higher compliment for any writer.

In this mystery, Milhone is summoned to a small town on the California coast to help exonerate the son of a moderately wealthy but terminally ill man. The son is an escaped convict, imprisoned for the murder of a young woman many years in the past. Recaptured, it seems his only hope is for Milhone to discover who did commit the murder, and expose the fact that he was wrongfully imprisoned.

Kinsey Milhone gently but firmly takes the town apart, person by person, and exposes its past and how the principals in the intrigue are connected. Bit by bit she works the mystery to its dramatic solution and we are left as usual, in admiration of this modest young woman's skill and power.

If you haven't read "F," by all means, do so!

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