Sue Grafton paints a more empathetic portrait of her protagonist Kinsey Milhone in "O is for Outlaw." 

Getting to Know Her

All that changes in "O is for Outlaw." A strange phone call allows Kinsey to recover a box with her personal papers and mementos of her youth.

She realizes the owner of the box had to be her first husband, Mickey, whom she traces to an ICU floor at UCLA where he is comatose from a gunshot wound. Mickey had been a cop for 18 years when she met him. They remained on good but distant terms with one another following the divorce.

Once Kinsey verifies Mickey's grave situation, she sets out to find the gunman. Did Mickey discover unlawful practices at his favorite hangout? Why did he buy a plane ticket to Kentucky with his last few dollars? What part did Mickey's beloved leather jacket play in the overall crime? Kinsey's personal investment in the solving of this crime is much higher than in her other cases, but she is still the methodical detective considering every possible clue.

Make no mistake. This is Kinsey's case. Kinsey still reigns as pop detective at the book's end, but maybe she inspires a bit more empathy.

Stick around — the letter P is

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