Summary and book reviews of O Is For Outlaw by Sue Grafton

O Is For Outlaw

By Sue Grafton

O Is For Outlaw
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  • Hardcover: Oct 1999,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2001,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

The call comes on a Monday morning from a guy who scavenges defaulted storage units at auction. The weekend before, he'd bought a stack of cardboard boxes. In one, there was a collection of childhood memorabilia with Kinsey's name all over it. For thirty bucks, he was offering Kinsey the lot.

Though she's never been one for personal possessions, curiosity is a powerful force. She agrees to meet the guy, then hands over a twenty (she may be curious, but she's also cheap and she loves a bargain).

What she finds among the items is an old undelivered letter to her that will force her to reexamine her beliefs about the breakup of her first marriage ... about the honor of her first husband ... and about an old unsolved murder.

It will put her life in the gravest peril.

"O" Is for Outlaw
: Kinsey's fifteenth excursion into the dark side of human nature.

Through fourteen books, readers have been fed short rations when it comes to Kinsey Millhone's past: a morsel here, a dollop there. We know about the aunt who raised her, the second husband who left her, the long-lost family up the California coast. But husband number one has remained a blip on the screen. Until now. "O" Is for Outlaw: a revealing excursion into Kinsey's past.

Author's Note

Just a brief note to clarify the time frame for these "alphabet" novels. For those of you confused about what appear to be errors in my calculation of ages and dates, please be aware that "A" Is for Alibi takes place in May of 1982, "B" Is for Burglar in June of 1982, "C" Is for Corpse in August of 1982, and so forth. Since the books are sequential, Ms. Millhone is caught up in a time warp and is currently living and working in the year 1986, without access to cell phones, the Internet, or other high-tech equipment used by modern-day private investigators. She relies instead on persistence, imagination, and ingenuity; the stock-in-trade of the traditional gumshoe throughout hard-boiled history. As her biographer, I generally avoid mention of topical issues and date-related events. You'll find few, if any, references to current movies, fads, fashions, or politics. This book is an exception in that events connect back to the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, eleven years before the incidents described herein. Given narrative requirements, I populate historical actions with fictional characters and project wholly invented persons into academic institutions and political arenas, in which their "real-life" counterparts will doubtless dispute their presence. In my view, the delight of fiction is its enhancement of the facts and its embellishment of reality. Aside from that--as my father used to say--"I know it's all true because I made it up myself "--  Sue Grafton

The Latin term pro bono, as most attorneys will attest, roughly translated means for boneheads and applies to work done without charge. Not that I practice law, but I am usually smart enough to avoid having to donate my services. In this case, my client was in a coma, which made billing a trick. Of course, you might look at the situation from another point of view. Once in a while a piece of old business surfaces, some item on life's agenda you thought you'd dealt with years ago. Suddenly, it's there again at the top of the page, competing for your attention despite the fact that you're completely unprepared for it.

First, there was a phone call from a stranger; then a letter showed up fourteen years after it was sent. That's how I learned I'd made a serious error in judgment and ended up risking my life in my attempt to correct for it.

I'd just finished a big job, and I was not only exhausted but my bank account was fat and I wasn't in the mood ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

For Kinsey's 15th adventure, Grafton continues to create characters that seem to leap off the page and into real life. The dialogue is snappy, and the clues smartly planted. (You might think you know who the real villain is but trust me, Grafton surprises again.)

The Wall Street Journal

There are no awkward shifts of mood in Sue Grafton's 'O' Is for Outlaw, the 15th book featuring Southern California private investigator Kinsey Millhone . . . Ms. Grafton remains one of the most adept, and perhaps even underrated, prose stylists in her field, one who can make you laugh out loud on a given page and then stop you short with a thoughtful passage.

USA Today

This is my kind of escapist crime fiction cuisine-free, feminist in feeling, and loaded with local color and ingenious detection. P is for please hurry, Ms. Grafton, with the next Millhone book for the millennium.

The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

O Is for Outlaw is extremely good--outstanding in fact.

Publishers Weekly

Grafton's fans will be thrilled with this knockout 15th Kinsey Millhone mystery, which deals with Kinsey's first marriage.

Kirkus Reviews

Lying, snooping, rifling drawers, following oblivious suspects, rarely taking time to sit and think, Kinsey keeps you blissfully in the dark about what’s happened and what’s coming up till the magician tips her hand at the denouement and shows you how simple it all was — in Grafton’s best since 1992, when I was for Innocent.

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