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T Is for Trespass (Kinsey Millhone Mysteries)by Sue Grafton
Synopses & Reviews
trespass \'trespes\ n: a transgression of law involving one's obligations to God or to one's neighbor; a violation of moral law; an offense; a sin — Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged
In what may be her most unsettling novel to date, Sue Grafton's T is for Trespass is also her most direct confrontation with the forces of evil. Beginning slowly with the day-to-day life of a private eye, Grafton suddenly shifts from the voice of Kinsey Millhone to that of Solana Rojas, introducing readers to a chilling sociopath. Rojas is not her birth name. It is an identity she cunningly stole, an identity that gives her access to private caregiving jobs. The true horror of the novel builds with excruciating tension as the reader foresees the awfulness that lies ahead. The suspense lies in whether Millhone will realize what is happening in time to intervene. Though set in the late eighties, T is for Trespass could not be more topical: identity theft; elder abuse; betrayal of trust; the breakdown in the institutions charged with caring for the weak and the dependent. It reveals a terrifying but all-too-real rip in the social fabric. Once again, Grafton opens up new territory with startling results.
"The 20th Kinsey Millhone crime novel (after 2005's S Is for Silence), a gripping, if depressing, tale of identify theft and elder abuse, displays bestseller Grafton's storytelling gifts. By default, Millhone, 'a private investigator in the small Southern California town of Santa Teresa,' assumes responsibility for the well-being of an old neighbor, Gus Vronsky, injured in a fall. After Vronsky's great-niece arranges to hire a home aide, Solana Rojas, Millhone begins to suspect that Rojas is not all that she seems. Since the reader knows from the start that an unscrupulous master manipulator has stolen the Rojas persona, the plot focuses not on whodunit but on the battle of wits Millhone wages with an unconventional and formidable adversary. Grafton's mastery of dialogue and her portrayal of the limits of good intentions make this one of the series' high points, even if two violent scenes near the end tidy up the pieces a little too neatly. Author tour. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In 1982, when Sue Grafton published her first Kinsey Millhone mystery, 'A Is for Alibi,' Millhone was a 32-year-old private investigator, a woman in a field still dominated by men. The same was true of Grafton, who, along with Marcia Muller and Sara Paretsky, moved the female-PI genre from niche market to mainstream acceptance in the 1980s. In the 25 years since 'Alibi,' Grafton... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) has chosen to keep her sleuth in her mid-30s, aging her a few months between books. Now each new alphabet mystery (there are 20 so far) occurs in what is becoming the distant past. 'T Is for Trespass' takes place during Christmas 1987, a time just recent enough to feel like a vaguely alternate universe: a recognizably contemporary America, but one without Google searches, e-mail and omnipresent cellphones. The particulars of 'T Is for Trespass' are current ones — child sexual abuse, the failure of the elder-care system, and identity theft — but the motivations for murder and Kinsey's shoe-leather deductive methods are timeless. Throughout the series, Grafton returns again and again to three types of characters. The first is the moneyed set of fictional Santa Teresa, Calif. (her stand-in for Santa Barbara). The second is wayward young women in all their guises; Kinsey Millhone and her creator are fascinated by women who break rules large and small. Most significant of all, though, are the elderly, people in plain sight whose lives are often overlooked, and it's no coincidence that Kinsey's most constant relationship in all the books is her platonic one with her octogenarian landlord, Henry Pitts. In 'Trespass,' Henry's unpleasant next-door neighbor, Gus Vronsky, serves as the catalyst for Kinsey's latest adventure. After a fall in his home, Gus is no longer able to care for himself, so his niece Melanie Oberlin arrives from New York and stays long enough to hire Solana Rojas, a 60-ish home-care provider. Melanie also engages Kinsey to do a perfunctory background check on Rojas, and flies home without waiting for the results. Everything checks out fine, and soon Kinsey is back to her usual work diet of skip traces and process servings. But what no one knows — and what Grafton establishes in a series of chapters written from the caregiver's point of view — is that the woman who calls herself Solana Rojas is an identity thief whose MO is isolating elderly patients from their families and then taking them for all they're worth. And Gus' beach-adjacent cottage, purchased on the cheap during World War II, is a tempting tear-down in the condo-heavy 1987 real estate market. Soon 'Rojas' is living in the old man's house, medicating him heavily and controlling his access to visitors, which alarms Kinsey, who decides to investigate further. This puts her at odds with Melanie, who clearly doesn't want to know any more about the seemingly capable nurse, and just as Kinsey tumbles to Rojas' motives, the sociopath tumbles to the detective's. As in her previous adventures, most of the people Kinsey encounters and investigates are everyday folks: bank tellers, apartment managers and hospital aides. Kinsey's beat is the banality of criminality, and Grafton's gift is making the minutiae of detective work and everyday life into something both sociological and suspenseful — which makes the bizarre, contrived double ending of 'Trespass' doubly disappointing, involving as it does a Hitchcockian fall from a balcony and an arm separated from its body by a speeding car (don't ask). Stronger is the subplot involving an itinerant child molester, whom Grafton draws as Solana Rojas' flip side: a man who preys on society's most vulnerable at the other end of life's spectrum. At her current rate of writing, Grafton will finally reach the end of the alphabet in 2019, but Kinsey will never see the Clinton administration; unlike her most obvious precursor, John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee, who aged subtly but definitely in his 20 years of adventures, Kinsey has barely evolved in her 25 years on the scene. What has changed in the past two decades is the number of female PIs on bookshelves, from hard-boiled women to cutesy shoe-shopping gumshoes. Few of them can match up to durable Kinsey Millhone, eternally on stakeout in the front seat of her latest beater, with a thermos of bad coffee, a revolver and her ubiquitous Quarter Pounder With Cheese all riding shotgun." Reviewed by Kevin Allman, a novelist and frequent reviewer of mysteries, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"This is vintage Grafton, set in the 1980s but scarily current, carefully plotted, and fast paced." Library Journal (starred review)
"Each of Kinsey's cases stretches the private-eye formula in new ways. Her 20th, which reads like vintage Ruth Rendell, will bring shivers to every reader with an aged parent-or a young child." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"For Ms. Grafton's legion of alphabet fans, the only thing they'll dislike is that it's book No. 20, which means only six more to come. For newcomers, T Is for Trespass will be perfectly understandable as a stand-alone treat, but better carve out some time because you'll be hankering for the other 19." Dallas Morning News
"[T]he best and strongest book in the series....It may be two years before we get U Is for... from Grafton, but if it's half as good as Trespass, it will be worth the wait." Carol Memmott, USA Today
"It's been two years since Sue Grafton's last alphabet mystery — S is for Silence — and, judging by her newest, the vacation has invigorated both her and her series star, Kinsey Millhone.... [A] ceaselessly engrossing thriller." Dick Lochte, LA Times
Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone embarks on a terrifying but all-too-real ride that will reveal not everyone is who they say they are.
In 1982, Sue Grafton introduced us to Kinsey Millhone. Thirty years later, Kinsey is an established international icon and Sue, a number-one bestselling author. To mark this anniversary year, Sue has given us stories that reveal Kinsey’s origins and Sue’s past.
“I've come to believe that Grafton is not only the most talented woman writing crime fiction today but also that, regardless of gender, her Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.”—Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post
Kinsey and Me has two parts: The nine Kinsey stories (1986-93), each a gem of detection; and the And Me stories, written in the decade after Grafton's mother died. Together, they show just how much of Kinsey is a distillation of her creator’s past even as they reveal a child who, free of parental interventions, read everything and roamed everywhere. But the dark side of such freedom was that very parental distance.
The same unique voice and witty insights readers fell in love with in A Is for Alibi permeate the Kinsey stories. Those in the And Me section trace a remarkable voyage, from anger to understanding, from pain to forgiveness. They take us into a troubled family, dysfunctional as most families are, each in their own way, but Grafton’s telling is sensitive, delicate, and ultimately, loving. Enriching the way we see Kinsey and know Sue, these stories are deeply affecting.
About the Author
Sue Grafton is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries. She has won the Anthony and Shamus awards and lives in Santa Barbara, California.
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