Welcome to Santa Teresa, California, where private investigator Kinsey Millhone plies her trade. The time is the mid-1980s, and Millhone drives a perpetually rundown Volkswagen. The somewhat vintage seting means Millhone is without the conveniences we take for granted nowadays: Internet, cell phones, GPS systems and the like. Beginning with 1983's A is For Alibi, Millhone has solved 19 mysteries thus far. The latest, S Is for Silence, is a bit of a departure, both for the protagonist and for the author. Millhone is retained to solve the disappearance of a woman some 35 years back, a cold case if ever there was one. Author Sue Grafton steps out of her usual first-person narrative to juxtapose third-person flashbacks to the 1950s, a risky technique, but one she pulls off nicely. Tensions escalate exponentially as Millhone unearths long-buried clues, clues that may threaten some wealthy and powerful Santa Teresa businessmen. S Is for Silence will be a huge hit with Grafton fans; indeed, it is a huge hit by any measure. The first printing is a staggering one million copies, and the book is a Literary Guild, Book-of-the-Month Club and Mystery Guild main selection.

A lifelong mystery reader who was weaned on the Hardy Boys, globetrotter Bruce Tierney writes (mostly) from Prince Edward Island.

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