Anyone who has followed the sleuthing of Kinsey Millhone won't be surprised to hear that Sue Grafton, in this 15th installment of what many people call the Alphabet Murder series, has been successful again. What will surprise readers is the journey into Kinsey Millhone's past, something that until now, Grafton has withheld (well, save for some tidbits here and there). In fact, "O" Is for Outlaw is solely about Kinsey's past. And because it is, readers are treated to aspects of Kinsey's personality that make the character more real, more fallible, infinitely more interesting.
The book begins when a shifty character contacts Millhone claiming to have a box full of Millhone's personal documents. This event pulls Kinsey into a web of intrigue that forces her to confront some very real demons, some her own making, some the making of others. Thus, Millhone reassesses choices she made regarding her ex-husband and their marriage and sets out to right wrongs before it's too late. In sum: She's on the case, tracking a 20-year-old murder, navigating the very tricky path of memory, while, at the same time, trying to come to grips with choices she made long ago.
One of the reasons "O" Is for Outlaw is so intriguing has less to do with the actual mystery and everything to do with Kinsey Millhone's moral dilemma - and it's a doozy of a dilemma. In the interim, readers are treated to Grafton's expert storytelling abilities, coupled with her subtle sense of humor. Kinsey is still funny, quick-witted, and charmingly self-reflective. It's Kinsey's honesty that makes her so endearing.
This isn't the normal whodunit. Rather, this book is about the wonderful details of Kinsey's former life. Grafton has opened a new door, but what next? "O" Is for Outlaw makes you want more: more Kinsey, more information, more mysteries being solved by this tough cookie, who isn't as tough as she thinks. ¶
Crystal Williams is a poet pursuing her M.F.A. at Cornell.