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T Is for Tremendous Tale Telling
am 5. Dezember 2007
Sue Grafton is always exploring new subjects and new ways of writing for her readers. T is for Trespass continues that worthy heritage for this terrific series.
If you haven't read any books in this series, I suggest you go back and read them in alphabetical order beginning with A is for Alibi. You have a major treat ahead of you. The series develops over a number of years, and many references are clearer throughout if you've read the earlier books.
The writing innovation here is to have two narrators, Kinsey Millhone, and Kinsey's nemesis, named Solana Rojas, whom fate brings together in Kinsey's neighborhood to create a taut suspense story. You will see the future conflict clearly coming, but won't know what to expect. Sue Grafton does a wonderful job of filling the story with lots of surprises to heighten the suspense. The struggle between the two women is intensified by Solana being portrayed from the beginning as being the psychological opposite of Kinsey. You'll enjoy a heightened sense of tension by knowing what the two determined women are thinking about and planning to do.
The new topic is how some people prey on others in particularly chilling ways by taking advantage of the presumption we hold that we are surrounded by trustworthy people. It's a cautionary tale that will leave you wanting to do more to check out those with whom you and your family come into contact. The book is so powerful in this dimension that at times you'll feel like you are reading a nonfiction book about a tragedy.
As the book opens, Solana is looking for opportunity and Kinsey is looking for some work. Solana has just left her last job and explains what her objectives are in Chapter One. Kinsey picks up in Chapter Two to describe how detecting hasn't been very good lately. To make up for that, Kinsey has been serving summonses. Kinsey hears a sound while she's on her way to work, and that sound leads both women onto a collision course.
In the book, Kinsey works on several assignments . . . looking for evidence to clear a defendant in a car accident, assisting a landlord to remove deadbeat tenants, and checking out references for a new employee. She also finds that being a caring neighbor can be time consuming.
Kinsey's personal life is at a low ebb. She's not seeing anyone. She's stopped exercising, and her landlord Henry is her main source of company although he's increasingly taken up by a new woman.
As I started the book, I didn't expect much. After all, seeing that two characters are going to come into contact in unpleasant ways usually makes for good writing but weak plots. Well, I was wrong. The plot is even stronger than the excellent writing.
In typical Sue Grafton fashion, she brings in touches of the moment, winter 1987, to give the story a strong sense of time. In this case, she employs the fascination with old muscle cars that had developed by then to give a sense of two points in time. I was most impressed by this choice of a story-telling device.
Her sense of place is equally strong. I grew up not far from where "Santa Teresa" is set. In reading this book, I was called back into dark misty nights in that area when threat seemed to lurk in every shadow.
The story is so successful that it reminded me of the Greek tragedies, dressed up on modern circumstances. It's a remarkable accomplishment.
Brava, Ms. Grafton!