Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grafton, Sue (V is for Vengeance)

Another better than usual entry in the Alphabet Series. Better than the middle section of the alphabet for sure, and definitely better than most mystery series out there. I was somewhat disappointed by the plot, though.

Grafton does something different here by adding chapters specific to two other characters besides Millhone, told from their point of view. It's clear this is done to garner support and sympathy for these characters, but there's no getting around the fact that this is the weakest part of the book. If she hadn't done this, we, her audience, would feel complete disdain for them. With the chapters added in, we only feel a slight twinge of guilt in liking them and rooting for them at the end.

And why should we root for them? Grafton's hook in this book is the crime of shoplifting, and the toll it takes on retail outlets. She builds the case for being incensed by this almost invisible crime, and then garners sympathy for those who make it happen. It's an odd thing to do. And I'm convinced she needed almost none of it to build the story she did, except maybe to build up her page count.

Even though the novel has some strange choices, Grafton still has a marvelous grasp of language, and there are bits and pieces in here I really enjoyed, chief among them her creation of a bogus government employee paid to count how many cars turn into a particular road. That, and the subsequent "policing" of it, were hysterical. Plus, Millhone does all her usual things, and we love her all the more for it.

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