by Marv Lachman

SUE GRAFTON – “B” Is for Burglar. Holt Rinehart and Winston, hardcover, 1985. Bantam, paperback, 1986. Reprinted many times since.

   Sue Grafton has been praised, with justification, for carrying on the traditions of the private eye novel, and I’m glad that her second book, “B” Is for Burglar, is now available in paperback from Bantam at $3.50.

   Grafton breaks no new ground, but her books and her heroine, Kinsey Millhone, are so reminiscent of Ross Macdonald and Lew Archer at their best that I strongly recommend this book, The setting is California’s Santa Teresa, a thinly disguised Santa Barbara, the city in which Kenneth Millar lived, and one to which he frequently brought Archer.

   Millhone, like Archer, is a decent person, and she clocks as many miles on guilt trips as he did. Both of their creators provide excellent prose, even if they did go overboard on similes. Grafton has a wonderful career in front of her, and a little more discipline as to that tendency should permit her to consolidate her considerable talent and provide us with some of the best hardboiled mysteries of the next few decades.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 8, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1986.

Editorial Comment:   It is now 28 years since Marv wrote this review, and Sue Grafton’s latest is “W” Is for Wasted, published last month in paperback. Question: What is “X” for?