One of the reasons I like Tony Hillerman and Sue Grafton so much is the continuity of the main characters. Almost all of their books have the same main characters and it’s fascinating to witness their development.
With Hillerman, I came along in the middle of the stories about Navajo tribal policemen Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. I read them out of order, so even though Hillerman is the top dog as far as I’m concerned, it would have even been better if I’d started them in chronological order and went from there (something I will do before I die).
My experience with Grafton has been ideal. I started at the beginning, with A is for Alibi, and have grown with Kinsey Millhone, the main character, over the last 13 books. This book, M is for Malice, is probably the most in-depth study thus far of Kinsey’s emotional state. Grafton really digs into Kinsey’s familial relationships and dredges up some past loves, and the mystery at hand hits especially close to home for this single, thirty-five year old, female private investigator who loves fast food. I’m not going to dig into the plot but to say that it was another solid effort and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I think that Grafton sometimes tries to hard to make Kinsey kind of quirky cool. Kinsey is cool enough without hearing more about how she doesn’t care about her hair or only has one dress-up outfit (unlike your average woman I guess). I’m not sure why I perceive this, but it could be because I read so few books by women. I just noticed it near end of this book; in the last 34 books, I’ve only read two female authors, Grafton and Casey. And there are none in the hopper, save for more of Grafton. It’s not intentional, but what does that make me? An idiot? A chauvinist? Or are there just more male writer’s than female so I don’t have any choice?
I think of my taste in books as flexible, wide-ranging, varied, open-minded, but am I fooling myself? I gotta dig into this issue…