X marks the spot, I must confess, where I became a teeny bit happy that there are only two letters left in the alphabet. Don't get me wrong, though; this is nowhere near a bad book - nor is any of the others in this series (I've devoured every single one and by now, P.I. Kinsey Millhone feels like a good friend). But early on in this one, precious little action and endless descriptions of who had what for dinner, what clothes who wore but shouldn't have and how many complimentary envelopes were in a hotel desk drawer rendered me almost as bored as Kinsey was on one of her stakeouts (or so she said).
The book begins as Kinsey takes on a client who's looking to be reunited with a son she gave up for adoption years ago. At the same time, Kinsey's been asked by the widow of a P.I. who was killed off in an earlier book (nope, won't tell), to help sort through her late husband's boxes of papers because an IRS guy is threatening an audit. When it turns out the client may not be totally on the up-an-up - and the late husband's papers turn into clues related to an old crime - Kinsey is off and running to find answers.
Lovable characters from past books get involved, of course - like octogenarian landlord Henry, his even older brother William and Henry's cantankerous cat Ed, who strayed into Henry's life in W is for Wasted. Adding to their woes is that their little part of California has been in the midst of a longstanding drought, and Henry is consumed with finding new ways to lower his water bill. Ever the consummate gentleman, he's also taken a shine to the elderly couple who moved in next door, readily offering assistance to the wife as she cares for her invalid husband.
The plot itself is both intricate and intriguing, and on the plus side, once I reached the 60% mark or so, the action started to heat up on all fronts and the ho-hum parts dwindled to a minimum. The primary whodunit was all but confirmed (the only thing remaining was the thrill of the chase, with Kinsey in the lead). The subplots began to take on new relevance, and from that point on I didn't put the book down till I reached the end.
X (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) by Sue Grafton (Marian Wood Books/Putnam, August 2015); 416 pp.