I’ve been on a streak lately of reading a lot of books that I really don’t have strong feelings about. They’re not unenjoyable, but they’re not super great, either. O is for Outlaw fits right in. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t tear through it and I wasn’t sorry it was over.
It’s another in the Alphabet Mysteries series, revolving around private detective Kinsey Millhone. This one is slightly different from the others, in that she’s not investigating a case for work but a mystery in her personal life. Her ex-husband, a former police officer, was shot and left for dead. A gun that used to belong to Kinsey was found at the scene, making her a suspect.
It’s a fairly standard mystery and not particularly scary, although there was one reveal that made me gasp. The most entertaining thing about this book is how it is set so obviously in the 80s. Sue Grafton wrote the first Alphabet Mystery in 1982, and even though it took her 17 years to get to O, it’s only been 2 or 3 years for Kinsey. Most of the books in this series don’t dwell too much on the date. There aren’t any cell phones, and Kinsey spends a lot of time at the local library looking at microfiche, but the details aren’t jarring. O is for Outlaw differs from the rest of the series (at least, the others I’ve read) in this regard. Several of the characters Kinsey meets are Vietnam vets, and the story revolves heavily around a battle in Vietnam. I liked the little details, however, and thought they added to the story rather than distract.
O is for Outlaw is also interesting in how it shows Kinsey grappling with her relationship with her ex-husband and why they divorced. I liked these bits of personal information we got about a character who’s backstory is often (purposely) shrouded in mystery. A fine entry in a perfectly enjoyable series, but nothing special.