Sue Grafton


C is for Corpse

‘C’ in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series


Down the line.


Grafton doesn’t put a foot wrong. She centres the story on Kinsey Millhone, her likeable (she’s friends with an old bloke – a technique exaggerated in Peter Temple’s ‘Jack Irish’ telemovies – the man’s a positive geriophile; she’s nice to a disabled guy – if we didn’t catch that she spells it out with him saying to her, “When I’m with you I don’t feel self-conscious or like I’m crippled or ugly … how can you turn it around and make me feel good that I’m deformed?”; I’m really surprised she doesn’t Jesse Stone et. al. style have a dog), everyday (not rich, and deliberately contrasted with snobbish wealthy in this book), sharp and (of course), sexy (but she doesn’t flaunt this). Grafton’s not trying to reinvent the genre – quite the opposite. In planning a whole alphabet of stories, she’s very deliberately saying, “Hey, if you like A, B, and C, then I’ll make sure you’ll like D, E & F too.” It feels very TV friendly too – we’ve seen these characters being interviewed by Jim Rockford or whoever. The case, the client, the suspects, the mystery unfolding – all deftly handled.


I’m not saying doing this is easy: indeed, the field is strewn with people who cock it up. Hats off to Grafton, and I’d be happy to jump in to read another letter if I saw one lying around. It was an enjoyable, easy read.


That being said, I’m not about to charge around and seeking the rest of the books out. Nothing really soared for me – I never laughed or gasped or rushed to turn pages. I never really reacted at all. There’s only so many more books I’m going to read, and ideally I’d like to relish rather than merely acknowledge them.


May 2012