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Day: August 24, 2015

“X” by Sue Grafton


X” by Sue Grafton

c.2015, Putnam
$28.95 / $34.95 Canada
403 pages


The months spent with your ex are better forgotten.

You don’t even like to think about them, in fact, and you rarely discuss them. That’s all in the past now, and best that it stay that way. Or is it?  What if lessons learned from your ex back then can save the life of someone today?  In the new book “X” by Sue Grafton, recovered memorabilia leads to an eXtra disturbing discovery.

Ruthie Wolinsky was at a total loss.

Recently widowed when her husband was murdered under shady circumstances, Ruthie was trying hard to clean up his paperwork and get rid of junk. She’d hired someone for the latter, but the former was trickier – made more so by the strange call from the IRS, asking for receipts from fifteen years ago.

Private investigator Kinsey Millhone had once worked with Ruthie’s late husband and though she was no fan of Pete Wolinsky, she adored Ruthie and agreed to help. As she waded through moldering boxes in search of old receipts, Kinsey remembered that Pete had been secretive so she wasn’t surprised to find a hidden envelope and an odd code. Pete had obviously been working on a case that he wanted kept quiet; that intrigued Kinsey, who hated unfinished messes.

What else could she do but complete his case – especially since she’d been stiffed by a client who’d lied to her from the start? The woman said her name was Hallie Bettancourt and that she was looking for someone she’d put up for adoption years before. Bettancourt had paid in cash, but the $100 bills were counterfeit and so was her name. It hadn’t been a big job, but Kinsey wanted her money.

The code Pete had fashioned was easily broken – Kinsey’s landlord, Henry, loved doing cryptograms – but the names it yielded didn’t make sense. How could a woman long-dead be of any interest to anyone today?  And how did Pete end up with a few old pictures and a Bible from a lifetime ago? Better question: why did someone else want them enough to threaten Kinsey on her own turf?

My very first thought while reading “X” came to me long before I’d even reached the middle of the first chapter: there’s a lot of filler in this novel. Readers – even those starting this series from here (and that’s okay, by the way) – don’t generally need a paragraph on the ingredients in bread or on making coffee.

I point this out because the whodunits you’ll find in this latest installment from author Sue Grafton are classic Millhone, but the padding becomes a distraction after awhile. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that those pages could have been more mystery and less mud to slog through.

And then again, you’ve read Grafton’s other twenty-four books (A through W and short stories). Can you stand to miss this one, the third-from-the-presumably-last?  No… really, you know you can’t. This is the book mystery fans have been waiting for, and they may otherwise find “X” to be X-cellent.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Two more subdivisions in north Keizer

Construction is expected to start this month on 11 lots for the Northfield Estates subdivision on a stretch of Bair Road behind current homes in The Vineyards. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Construction is expected to start this month on 11 lots for the Northfield Estates subdivision on a stretch of Bair Road behind current homes in The Vineyards. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

One company is building two new subdivisions in the northern part of Keizer.

MC Northwest Inc. is building 11 homes in Northfield Estates, on a stretch of Bair Road behind current homes in The Vineyards off of Wheatland Road.

A little bit south on Wheatland, MC Northwest is building six homes for the new Farmland Meadows on Farmland Lane and Shannon Court NE.

“For Northfield, we turned in permits for the first house and will have 11 total lots,” said Matt Holstege, the CEO of MC Northwest. “We are anticipating construction to start by the end of this month, for the foundations to get laid. We will probably finish the first batch of houses by the end of the year.”

According to Holstege, the homes have been popular.

“We have nine out of the 11 homes pre-sold,” he said. “They all sold pretty quick.”

The website for the subdivision ( shows the houses range in price from $345,950 to $399,950 and range in size from 2,372 to 2,818 square feet.

Standard features for the homes include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, laminate floors, fireplaces, landscaping with sprinklers and air conditioning.

The expansion of Bair Road has already been done, while a new road, Alta Lane, has also been constructed.

There are technically seven lots for Farmland Meadows, but the first lot already has an existing home which will be staying put. The other lots range in size from 5,000 to 6,016 square feet in size, with two sample layouts on the website being between 2,625 and 2,818 square feet in size and ranging from $379,950 to $399,950 in price.

“We just started pushing the dirt around,” Holstege said of the Farmland Meadows subdivision. “We’re going to start pushing hard on that shortly so that we’ll have some lots to show. We will be wrapping up Northfield when we start on Farmland. We have six buildable lots, plus one with a home already there. That will remain.”

The Keizer Hearings Officer issued a report on the Northfield project a year ago, as well as a report on the Farmland project in April. Both projects were approved, with a Northfield Estates Street Lighting Local Improvement District approved by Keizer City Councilors last month.

In addition to the 17 homes, Holstege is looking to another new project that would be nearly twice as big.

Holstege points to the proximity to Interstate 5 access as a big selling point for the new homes.

“It’s mostly been we get a lot of people that commute, so a lot of I-5 traffic,” he said. “They like the north Keizer area, where they can get on and off I-5 real easy without a lot of hassle. And a lot of people that live in Keizer and grew up in Keizer, want to upgrade and update their homes. Our goal has been to be the go-to builder in Keizer.”