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Q is for Quarry: A Kinsey Millhone Novel Hardcover – October 14, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Private investigator Kinsey Millhone has served Sue Grafton well through 16 letters of the alphabet in a perennially popular series that occasionally breaks new ground but more often traverses familiar territory, as is the case here. Two old, ailing cops--one retired, the other disabled--try to breathe some life into an 18-year-old mystery that haunts them both for different reasons. They enlist Kinsey's help in identifying the victim, a young woman who was murdered and left for dead in the old quarry of the title. Neither they nor Kinsey expect that reopening an old case will incite the killer to strike again--not once, but twice. And while the real case of the still-unidentified victim that inspired this fictionalized scenario continues to languish in the cold case file in the Santa Barbara sheriff's office, Grafton's solution is as plausible as any. While the unlikely trio of Millhone and her cranky geezer sidekicks offers a few chuckles, the inner reaches of Kinsey's soul remain largely inaccessible to her as well as to the reader, which will probably not bother most of Kinsey's or Grafton's many admirers. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

While Kinsey Millhone is as energetic and tenacious as ever, and the plot hustles along at a gratifying pace, her 17th adventure is a little slow getting underway with all the initial accumulated biographical data. Two policemen out hunting discover a teenage girl's body near a quarry off California's Highway 1. Eighteen years later, the two recruit Millhone to help them try to identify the victim. Stacey Oliphant, now retired from the force, and Con Dolan, unwillingly sidelined by heart trouble, are as quarrelsome as an old married couple, but they both desperately want to find the killer in the quarry case. Their inquiries lead the trio from Santa Teresa to Quorum, a town in the desert near the Arizona border. At the time of the murder, a wrecked red convertible was found near the crime scene-stolen from an auto shop in Quorum. When Millhone and her cohorts talk to the grumpy shop owner, Ruel McPhee, and his charming son, Cornell, they get little information. Visits around town and probing conversations reveal various family secrets and covert liaisons, until the somewhat precipitous unmasking of the killer. Grafton briefly shoehorns in Millhone's interactions with her lost family, but that subject continues to feel as artificially imposed as it did in earlier books. A marvelously successful addition, however, is the twosome of Dolan and Oliphant. Their deftly rendered relationship is a delight; with any luck, the duo will appear in future Millhone mysteries. A main selection of the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild, and a BOMC featured selection.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Series: A Kinsey Millhone Novel (Book 17)
  • Hardcover: 385 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399149155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399149153
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (358 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,941 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Crocker on December 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Q Is For Quarry by Sue Grafton is different from the average Kinsey Millhone mystery, but I found myself enjoying this book more than I've enjoyed the last few novels in the series. First off,the book takes place mostly in a fictionalized version of the southeastern corner of California [south of Blythe and west of the Colorado River] rather than the usual fictionalized version of Santa Barbara, California. Second, Q Is For Quarry is the most police proceduralesque of the novels in the series. This isn't suprising since the novel takes off from a real cold murder case and involves two retired cops as main characters. Kinsey and the cops slowly unravel and reweave the evidence concerning the murdered girl found in the quarry until they tie up the loose ends and nail the killer. If you don't like lots of detail, you probably won't like this novel. Complaints concerning Kinsey's changing personality seem unfounded to me since the changes are consistent with the evolution of the character seen in the other novels. I think that Q Is For Quarry is a very good entry in the 'Alphabet' series and I hope Sue Grafton doesn't give up on Kinsey before she reaches Z.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on December 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It was eighteen years ago that officers Stacey Oliphant and Con Dolan, out on a morning hunting trip, found the decomposing body near the quarry. She was young, white, bound, and stabbed multiple times, and then her throat was slashed. She'd never been identified, her murderer never brought to justice, and the unsolved case has haunted Oliphant and Dolan all these many years. Now, old and sick, and at the end of their respective careers, they want one more shot at solving this Jane Doe homicide, and decide to enlist the help of Santa Teresa private detective, Kinsey Millhone. After hearing the whole story, and reading over the old murder book, Kinsey has to admit she's hooked, packs her duffle, and joins this "odd couple" on what turns out to be quite an intriguing and ultimately dangerous adventure in search of the truth..... Inspired by a still unsolved murder in Santa Barbara County over thirty years ago, Sue Grafton weaves a compelling and suspenseful story. Her well paced plot is filled with clever twists and turns, vivid, laugh-out-loud scenes, and witty and irreverent dialogue. But it's Ms Grafton's brilliant characterizations and delicious descriptions that really make this novel stand out and sparkle, and no one does it better. Q Is For Quarry is the seventeenth mystery in this marvelous alphabet series, and definitely one of the strongest entries. If you're new to Kinsey and company, begin at the beginning with A Is For Alibi and read them all. If you're already a fan, Q is a very satisfying and engaging read that should find itself at the top of your "must read" list.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is essential reading for all Kinsey Millhone fans!
Ms. Grafton has outdone her usual brilliance. She has taken a marvelous series and made it better by adding two new elements to her well-honed heroine and typical plot. The first new element is that you will learn a lot more about what was going on in Kinsey's family before, during and after she was born. This new information will provide the basis for many satisfying plot complications in future to expand your enjoyment. If you skip this book, the next books in the series probably won't work as well for you. The second new element is basing her mystery on an actual unsolved homicide in Santa Barbara County, California in August 1969. As a result, we can all speculate along with Ms. Grafton about what really happened. If the real case is ever solved, we can also see how close she and we came to the right answer. By including four forensic reconstructions of the real victim, readers can also potentially help identify the victim. It's one thing to make up one's own neat little mysteries. It's a much grander and exciting thing to take on the real thing. I hope that Ms. Grafton will create other reality-based mysteries in the future.
As the book opens, Kinsey is about to turn 37 in four weeks . . . and is in a little more reflective mood than usual. Soon some of that's dispelled when she takes on a new role as leg woman for Lieutenant Dolan and Stacey Oliphant, who originally investigated killing of the stabbed and dumped young female victim in 1969 at Grayson Quarry on Highway 1 in Lompoc. Stacey had retired from the Sheriff's Department eight years earlier, but is back working part time on cold cases. This one?s lack of closure has always bothered him.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on January 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Quarry" is loosely based on a 1969 Santa Barbara murder with a victim who remains unidentified to this day. Grafton became interested in this unsolved case and sponsored a forensic sculptor to do a likeness of the victim, which she included at the back of this book in hopes that someone will recognize the picture. This seems to be the year for big time mystery writers to take a hands-on interest in unsolved crimes what with Patricia Cornwell's six million dollar investment in the Jack the Ripper case.
Two retired detectives call in Kinsey Milhone to assist them in reopening the cold case of an unsolved murder of a Jane Doe victim. The trail leads the trio to small town Quorum CA. On the surface, Quorum is God-fearing and conservative, but appearances are deceiving, and soon Kinsey is up to her tumbled hairdo in suspects.
The book is a bit of a slow start to get everyone in place. I question the wisdom of having two cohorts that are both dying. Not only is it depressing, a lot of time is spent to and froing to emergency rooms and discussing diets and the horrors of smoking. I do not object at all to Grafton's love of placing senior citizens in her stories, I just wish she would be sure their health warranted the tasks she sets out for them. Like many other reviewers, I could do without the ongoing soap opera of Kinsey's rediscovered family. "Quarry" is back in the familiar groove after a really fine departure in "Peril" where Grafton extended her scope and vision. She does her usual fine job of characterization and descriptions that add so much to her novels. The plotting is excellent, and the ending is nicely surprising. I'm just hoping Kinsey can soon find a friend who is under 65.
Ms. Grafton heeded her fans.
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