X (Kinsey Millhone Series #24)

X (Kinsey Millhone Series #24)

by Sue Grafton

Paperback(Tall Rack Paperback - Reprint)

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“An inventive plot and incisive character studies elevate MWA Grand Master Grafton’s twenty-fourth Kinsey Millhone novel...This superior outing will remind readers why this much-loved series will be missed as the end of the alphabet approaches.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

X:  The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss...

Perhaps Sue Grafton’s darkest and most chilling novel, X features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this deadly sociopath. The test is whether private investigator Kinsey Millhone can prove her case against him—before she becomes his next victim.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101981870
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/02/2016
Series: Kinsey Millhone Series , #24
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 55,115
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton first introduced Kinsey Millhone in the Alphabet Series in 1982. Soon after, both writer and heroine became icons and international bestsellers. Ms. Grafton was a writer who consistently broke the bonds of genre while never writing the same book twice. Named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, her awards and honors included the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award from Britain's Crime Writers' Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bouchercon, three Shamus Awards, and three Anthony Awards—including the first two ever awarded. She passed away in December 2017.


Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky

Date of Birth:

April 24, 1940

Place of Birth:

Louisville, Kentucky


B.A. in English, University of Louisville, 1961

Read an Excerpt

I never hear the word "Nevada" without thinking of Robert Dietz. This coming May, we would celebrate our sixth anniversary of barely ever seeing each other. Truly, in the time I'd known him, I don't think we'd been together two months at a stretch, and that was only once. But now I needed his Nevada smarts and I dialed his number in Carson City. Three rings and his machine picked up. I listened to his message, which was terse and to the point. I waited for the beep and said, "Hey, Dietz. This is Kinsey. I need a favor from you. I'm looking for a woman named Susan Telford in Henderson, Nevada, and I wondered if you'd see what you can find out. There are thirty-three Telfords listed, and it doesn't make sense for me to tackle the job from Santa Teresa. Pete Wolinsky put her name on a list of six women who are all connected in one way or another to a man named Ned Lowe. Before Pete was killed, he went to some lengths to do background on Lowe, who seems like an all-around bad egg. If you have questions, call me back, and if you don't want to do the job, that's fine. Just let me know."

I decided it was time to convert my investigation into report form. I was formulating a sense of the relationship between Ned Lowe and the six women whose names appeared on Pete's list, but so far the link existed only in my head.

I'd inserted paper into my typewriter when the phone rang. "Millhone Investigations."

A gentleman with a powdery voice said, "Miss Millhone, this is Stanley Munce, formerly with the Burning Oaks Police Department. Clara Doyle told me you'd spoken to her about a case I worked on some years ago. Is that correct?"

"Yes, sir. Absolutely. Thank you so much for calling. I was asking about Lenore Redfern Lowe."

"That was my understanding. I'm afraid I don't have much to offer on the subject, but I will tell you what I can. I was the coroner's investigator at the time of that young girl's death. In order to complete a death certificate, the coroner has to determine the cause, mechanism, and manner of death.

"Simply put, cause of death is the reason the individual died, as would be the case with a heart attack or gunshot wound. The mechanism of death would be the actual changes that affect the victim's physiology, resulting in death. In death from a fatal stabbing, for instance, it might be extreme blood loss.

"The manner of death is how the death came about. Five of the six possibilities are natural, accidental, suicide, homicide, and undetermined. The sixth classification would be 'pending' if the matter's still under investigation, which is obviously not the case here. There was no question about her ingestion of Valium and alcohol. The generic diazepam is a central nervous system depressant, the effects of which can be intensified by alcohol. However, when the toxicology report came in, it appeared there wasn't a sufficient quantity of either to say with certainty death resulted from the combination of the two.

"What seemed questionable, at least in my mind, was the presence of petechiae, which are tiny broken blood vessels, like pinpricks, visible in the area of her eyes. Hard coughing or crying are common causes; sometimes the strain of childbirth or lifting weights. Petechiae can also be a sign of death by asphyxiation."

"You mean she might have been suffocated?"

"Smothered, yes. There were no fractures of the larynx, hyoid bone, thyroid or cricoid cartilages, and no areas of bruising, which ruled out manual strangulation. Mrs. Lowe had been under doctor's care. With her history of mental problems, absent any other compelling evidence, Dr. Wilkinson—the coroner—felt a finding of suicide was appropriate. I put up what objections I could, but I have no formal medical training, and his experience and expertise prevailed. For my part, I was never fully persuaded."

"So there was never an investigation into the circumstances of her death?"

"A cursory assessment, I'd say. Dr. Wilkinson was of the old school: high-handed and a bit of an autocrat. He was in charge, he made the judgment call, and he brooked no argument. I was putting my job at risk even to raise the few questions I did.

"I wish I could offer you more. It's bothered me for years but yours is the first question ever raised about that girl."

Which was not quite the case, but Stanley Munce couldn't know that. There had been another question raised in the matter, and that was Pete's.

I'd barely hung up when the phone rang again.

It was Dietz. He skipped right over the greetings and the chitchat. "What have you gotten yourself into?"

I felt like someone had thrown a bucket of water in my face. "You obviously know more than I do, so you tell me."

"I can tell you who Susan Telford is. Everybody in this part of the state knows who she is. She's a fourteen-year-old white female who disappeared two years ago."

I felt myself go still. "What happened to her?"

"She vanished. She might as well have gone up in smoke. The cops talked to everyone including vagrants and registered sex offenders."

"Nobody saw anything?"

"Eventually her best friend spoke up. She was too damn scared at first, but she finally broke down and told her mother some guy approached Susan in the mall a couple of days before she disappeared. He was snapping Polaroids. He said he worked for a fashion magazine and asked if she's be interested in some freelance modeling—"


"That was all crap, of course. The guy was obviously cruising for young girls and she was gullible enough to—"

"Dietz. I've heard this story, only in the version I was told, her name was Janet Macy and she lived in Tucson. I talked to her mother on the phone a week ago. She last saw her daughter in 1986. She thinks Janet went off to New York to launch her modeling career. Some photographer claimed he worked in the fashion industry and thought she showed promise. He was going to help her put together a portfolio. Not even sixteen and she went off with him like a damn fool."


"Her mother did file a missing person report, but the officer didn't think she had anything to worry about. All this time she's been telling herself stories about where the girl was and why she didn't write.

"Dietz. This is Ned Lowe. I know it. And he's still out there."

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X (Kinsey Millhone Series #24) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. Several stories running at once, all very interesting, all resolved in an excellent manor. Also importantis Ms. Grafton's storyline about the drought. The situation is critical and political. Thank you for bringing it into this wonderful book. The reviewer who said the drought was boring is wrong, it just added to the value of this book. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Sue Grafton's writing style and this book amazes me how she shows the growth of the main characters but still so familiar Her writing is golden and I am an avid reader and she is my favorite author She has the abilify to bring a story to vivid life which reminds me of my second favorite author Jsmes Herriot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had this on preorder for about 2 months. It was worth the wait. The story picked up with some of W and then started the X story. As always, I can't wait for the next letter. C
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all her books and X was a fun book to read. Loved the way Grafton weaves multiple stories together. Very well constructed book that has a good does of history in it for folks who have been loyal readers since A is for Alibi. If your new, don't worry. Grafton does a nice job giving back story for you so you won't feel lost. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read, but, I couldn't really remember the plot line for "W" which is kind of necessary. A bit too much info about droughts and water conservation, although interesting. Also, I believe that valium wasn't available yet in 1961, but I may be wrong. I did like the sub-plot regarding her landlord, and the humor was right-on, as usual!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed all of the books in this series, however, this book was really slow, I did like the ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this Audio book from the library. Great book plenty of twist and turns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RIP Sue. You are missed already. Thank you for all that you brought us.
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
A great new chapter in the ongoing Kinsey Millhone series. Be sure to start with A is for Alibi and work your way through the alphabet. Subsequent books in the series often refer to prior books. If you don't start from the beginning, you will get lost. Lots of characters and more than one plot in this book. It will keep you on your toes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot going on in this book... Lots of distracting little subplots and side stories... But still a great read. Very enjoyable. Can't wait for Y!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot of gibberish with the water conservation and I got lost in some of the back story with Pete but otherwise Kinsey Millhone at her finest!
mame1151 More than 1 year ago
I always like Sue Grafton and Kinsey Milhone is one of my favorite literary detectives. However, this book built up and paced along nicely and then all of a sudden it was over. I was disappointed in the ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have so looked forward to this book and I was not disappointed. It is classic Sue Grafton- written well with an interesting plot that engages the reader for the duration. Good Job!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It’s a typical Kinsey Millhone story. I just think I’ve read enough of them.
ThePolyBlog More than 1 year ago
BOTTOM-LINE: A mix of three cases, none adding up to a solid plot . PLOT OR PREMISE: Kinsey is hired by a rich client for a simple task -- find her biological son who was recently released from prison. . WHAT I LIKED: There are three storylines running concurrently, and the mix of types of cases is interesting…a missing persons case, which gets complicated when Kinsey finds out after she finishes the job that the client was bogus and there's more going on that involves a complicated divorce; problems with neighbours; and a leftover case from Pete Wolinsky, a private-eye who was killed in a previous novel. The start of the missing persons case is intriguing and the investigation part of the old case is solid. . WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The problems with the neighbours are so obvious, the solution is seen a mile away by everyone except Henry and Kinsey. And mostly just annoying. The interest from the missing persons case deteriorates almost into Kinsey Millhone, marriage counsellor. And the leftover case redeems Pete's character but then goes way over the top at the end. . DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow her on social media.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always love these books..hate to reach the end of the alphabet..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adore Sue Grafton and this one was great! I cannot wait for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed it very much. Can't wait to read her book Y.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this book. Have loved them all up to this point. Maybe it is good that the alphabit is coming to an end because this one was just tiring to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
X continues the story of a female private investigator. If you enjoy "who done its" then you will love this story. *****esk 06/2017*****