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N is for Noose Hardcover – May 15, 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 341 customer reviews

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  • M is for Malice (The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Suppose we could peer through a tiny peephole in time and chance upon a flash of what was coming up in the years ahead?" The questioner is Kinsey Millhone, middle-aged, two-time divorcee detective and junk food junkie star of Sue Grafton's popular "alphabet" mysteries; the book is 'N' Is for Noose. If Kinsey had had just a smidgen of foresight, she would never have taken her current case, handed down to her from her on-again, off-again flame and comrade in arms, Robert Dietz. We encounter the two this time out after Deitz's knee surgery, as Kinsey drives his "snazzy little red Porsche" back to Carson City, where she checks out his digs for the first time. To her surprise, he lives in a palatial penthouse, which--under the unspoken bylaws of investigative etiquette--she qualmlessly snoops through. They sit around for a fortnight playing gin rummy and eating peanut butter and pickle sandwiches together, but perennially single Kinsey grows wary: "It was time to hit the road before our togetherness began to chafe."

She heads off to meet Dietz's former client, Mrs. Selma Newquist, a devastated widow whose makeup tips seem to come from Tammy Faye Baker. Her husband Tom Newquist, a detective himself, had been working on a mysterious case when he abruptly died of a heart attack. Selma suspects foul play, but bless her, she isn't the brightest star in the sky and can't figure out what Tom was working on even though he's left behind enough paper to fill a recycling truck. Kinsey digs right in and roams the sleepy, one-horse town of Nota Lake for clues, interviewing a colorful cast of in-laws and locals. Beneath the quaint, quiet, country veneer, she unearths a bubbling hotbed of internal strife and familial double-dealing. Was Tom covering up for his partner? Is Selma protecting someone? Grafton's knack for gritty details and realistic characters ("[Selma's] skin tones suggested dark coloring, but her hair was a confection of white-blond curls, like a cloud of cotton candy"), coupled with the fast-paced, believable story line, makes for another delightful, entertaining read. --Rebekah Warren, Bestsellers editor

From Publishers Weekly

The noose of the title implies a tight knot, but the twists and turns of Grafton's latest plot are pretty loose. Not that the fans of self-reliant PI Kinsey Millhone's 13 previous alphabet appearances (from 1982's A Is for Alibi through 1996's M Is for Malice) are likely to object. This story takes Kinsey away from her Southern California coastal town of Santa Teresa to the small mountain community of Nota Lake in the Sierras. There, Selma Newquist hires Kinsey to ferret out the problem that had been seriously bothering her cop husband, Tom, before his recent death from a heart attack. Kinsey's efforts are soon stonewalled as the residents of Nota Lake unite, suggesting that the widow is being troublesome while the good-guy cop should be left to rest in peace. Kinsey wonders whether the townspeople might be right until she is seriously beaten up in her Nota Lake motel room. Focusing on finding the dead man's missing notebook, she follows his trail to a seedy hotel not far from Santa Teresa that he visited a few weeks before his death. While keeping a suspicious eye on the dead man's police partner and a few other local figures, Kinsey determines that Tom Newquist had been investigating an old murder near Nota Lake, which may have had ties to a similar, recent murder. Lots of coincidences, some over-the top characters, including a hyper-raunchy older woman, and some unprepared-for elements contribute to the rather chaotic climax. But Grafton's easy-reading, intelligent prose and her heroine's sharp humor, served up dark and wry, make up for a slew of plot weaknesses. 1,000,000 first printing; Mystery Guild main selection; Literary Guild selection; 18-city author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt; 1st edition (May 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805036504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805036503
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (341 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

New York Times-bestselling author Sue Grafton is published in twenty-eight countries and twenty-six languages--including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. Books in her alphabet series, begun in 1982, are international bestsellers with readership in the millions. And like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Grafton has earned new respect for the mystery form. Readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling prowess. She has been named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America (2009) and is a recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award (2004).

Sue Grafton has been married to Steve Humphrey for more than thirty years, and they divide their time between Montecito, California, and Louisville, Kentucky, where she was born and raised. Grafton, who has three children and four grandchildren, loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of my favorite detective story lines is the one where the whole community turns against the protagonist. Despite this, the detective solves the crime. N Is for Noose follows that plot, and is well done. In fact, the book borders on the genre of the Western in many ways. Read it that way, and you'll like it better.
The book has one uncharacteristic quality for this series, Kinsey is quite slow to solve the mystery. I found that intriguing. Most problem-solving is slow and ineffective. To me, it made the story more realistic and interesting to follow. Others will call it slow plot development.
The resolution in the end is extremely unusual. It combines elements that are found in many other stories, but never in combination. It literally took my breath away. I could not read it fast enough, even though it is over quickly. Such a powerful coda after so many lento sections is an astonishing surprise, and one that worked well for me.
Although this is certainly not the best book in the series, it is a very fine one. I urge you to read it, and appreciate its strengths.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
N is for Noose by Sue Grafton Henry Holt and Company 1998
I have read nearly all Sue Grafton's books in this series and find that this is a little slower than the others and not nearly as exciting. The widow of a small town policeman asks Kinsey Millhone to find the reason for her husbands fretfulness and ill-ease just before he dies of a heart attack. While this appears at first to be a fruitless exercise, Kinsey obviously disturbs someone during her rooting around into his life and begins to wonder who is upset enough to harm her. Two related murders separated by 5 years throw suspicion on the staff of the local police department and others in the small town in the Sierra mountains. Kinsey's search puts her in harms way and only through skilful questioning and deduction does she arrive at the answers she seeks and escapes a final deadly encounter with the guilty party.
The story moves fairly quickly but there is a lack of tension and excitement until the final chapter where Kinsey once again survives to rule the day.
On the whole this book is not up to the standards I have come to expect from Sue Grafton but I still look forward to her next mystery "O is for Outlaw".
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you are like me, you will see N Is for Noose as the ultimate development of the theme, "I am woman . . . hear me roar."
One of my favorite detective story lines is the one where the whole community turns against the protagonist. Despite this, the detective solves the crime. N Is for Noose follows that plot, and is well done. In fact, the book borders on the genre of the Western in many ways. Read it that way, and you'll like it better.
The book has one uncharacteristic quality for this series, Kinsey is quite slow to solve the mystery. I found that intriguing. Most problem-solving in reality is slow and ineffective. To me, it made the story more realistic and interesting to follow. Others will call it slow plot development.
The resolution in the final 40 pages or so is extremely unusual. It combines elements that are found in many other stories, but never in combination. It literally took my breath away. I could not read it fast enough, even though it is over quickly. Such a powerful coda after so many lento sections is an astonishing surprise, and one that worked well for me. Think of this book as having three long, slow movements followed by one allegro one done fortissimo!
Although this is certainly not the best book in the series, it is a very fine one. I urge you to read it, and appreciate its strengths.
Also, think about whether you really want your novels (and especially mysteries) to be too predictable. What kind of unpredictability is good? What kind isn't?
Stand up for what you believe in, too!
2 Comments 13 of 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read many of the reviews of Sue Grafton's books that you people have put here. I know many of you share a hate-like relationship of her books, but whoever reviews Patricia Cornwell better bear in mind that in my opinion Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky beat her out any day. The main plot of "N" is For Noose centers in Nota Lake, Kinsey has been hired by Selma Newquist to find out how her husband Tom Newquist died. Sue Grafton always writes her novels with lots of description and I mean lots, hilarious dialogue, action, and smart-mouthed Kinsey Millhone who keeps getting better by the book, In Stephen King's On Writing he says that Grafton, although she writes real fast, seems to produce great books, He's right. Her best novel is probably O is for Outlaw, Her weakest would be L is for Lawless, since there wasn't a real mystery in this. If you are a fan of Grafton (Like I Am) I suggest you get this one, if you have read all of Grafton's books and need something to read that's like her style I recommend Sara Paretsky, Janet Evanovich and Marcia Muller. If you want Alternatives to other mystery writers, read Kathy Reichs, she's like Patricia Cornwell except much, much better. If you like British Mystery like P.D. James read Elizabeth George. As for N is for Noose it is excellent, exciting and fun. Grade: A-
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