Q Is For Quarry

( 69 )

Overview


She was a "Jane Doe," an unidentified white female whose decomposed body was discovered near a quarry off California's Highway 1. The case fell to the Santa Teresa County Sheriff's Department, but the detectives had little to go on. The woman was young, her hands were bound with a length of wire, there were multiple stab wounds, and her throat had been slashed. After months of investigation, the case remained unsolved. That was eighteen years ago. Now, the two men who found the body, both nearing the end of long...
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Q Is For Quarry

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Overview


She was a "Jane Doe," an unidentified white female whose decomposed body was discovered near a quarry off California's Highway 1. The case fell to the Santa Teresa County Sheriff's Department, but the detectives had little to go on. The woman was young, her hands were bound with a length of wire, there were multiple stab wounds, and her throat had been slashed. After months of investigation, the case remained unsolved. That was eighteen years ago. Now, the two men who found the body, both nearing the end of long careers in law enforcement, want one last shot at the case. Old and ill, they need someone to do the legwork for them, and they turn to Kinsey Millhone. They will, they tell her, find closure if they can just identify the victim. Kinsey is intrigued with the challenge and agrees to work with them. But revisiting the past can be a dangerous business, and what begins with the pursuit of Jane Doe's real identity ends in a high-risk hunt for her killer.
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  • Tagged! Interview: Sue Grafton
    Tagged! Interview: Sue Grafton  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
We're up to "Q" in Sue Grafton's alphabet mystery series, and the bestselling author continues to build momentum as Kinsey Millhone gets caught up in a case already two decades old.

The core tale, based on fact, is as unsettling as it is gripping: Eighteen years ago, the unidentified body of a young girl was discovered decomposing in Grayson Quarry of Santa Teresa, California. Detective Stacey Oliphant and Lt. Con Dolan, two driven cops who've hung with the case for most of their careers, have never been able to learn who the woman was or catch her killer. Battling age and health issues, they ask Kinsey to take a crack at solving the "Jane Doe" mystery. Although all leads are long-cold by now, Kinsey follows every one of them up, interviewing witnesses whose memories of events have either dwindled or become wholly fictitious with time. One of her only clues is the woman's prominent teeth, which she hopes will spark someone's recollection. At the center of the puzzle lies not only a killer but also a link to Kinsey's own troubled past.

Q Is for Quarry eases you into its plot with Grafton's smooth writing style and swift plotting. Grafton knows her characters and their situations and explores them thoroughly -- it's those relationships that become the cornerstone of the novel as the mystery grows more intriguing and the investigation progresses. This is an author who understands how to let police procedure form the gist of the story while never allowing it to overshadow the humanity of her cast. The result is another impossible-to-put-down Grafton mystery. Tom Piccirilli

USA Today
[Q is for Quarry] is so well-written that many readers might consider it one of her best.
New York Times Book Review
...makes us hold our breath...
Bookpage
Q Is for Quarry provides more insight into the detective's convoluted family relationships...and it's a cracking good story, as well.
Timesdaily
Sue Grafton has done it again.
People
Rock solid
Publishers Weekly
Although this latest Kinsey Millhone novel features all of Grafton's tried and true elements of suspense and humor, there's something unusual here: the story-of an unsolved homicide that occurred in 1969-is based on a real event. Grafton became interested in this case, of an unidentified white female whose decomposed body was discovered near a California quarry. While Grafton was writing the novel, Jane Doe's body was exhumed and a forensic artist did the facial reconstruction, in the hopes that seeing the victim's image might trigger someone's memory. Kinsey is pulled into working on the case when her old friend Con Dolan asks for her help as a favor, to help Stacey Oliphant, an aging, ailing policeman, fulfill his dream of solving the mystery of Jane Doe's murder. There's not much to go on, as the case has been cold for years, yet the trio-Kinsey, Dolan and Stacey-persevere; slowly, leads begin to turn up. Kaye gives a fine performance. While she's well accustomed to reading Kinsey (she's been the audiobook reader for the entire series) and performs that part with gusto here, she also deftly handles the craggy old voices of Dolan and Stacey (although at times it's hard to distinguish between them). By turns sassy, professional and heartbreaking, her portrayal of Grafton's beloved heroine will delight fans. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 16). (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Inspired by the actual unsolved murder of a young woman in Santa Barbara County, Grafton's latest (after P Is for Peril) has private investigator Kinsey Milhone on a quest for justice denied for 18 years. In the summer of 1969, the decomposed corpse of a young white female was discovered near a quarry off California's Highway 1. Her hands had been bound and her throat slashed. Despite months of investigation, "Jane Doe" remained unidentified and the case unsolved. Now years later, Con Donlan and Stacey Oliphant, the police officers who had found her body, want Kinsey to help them to identify the girl and find her killer before they retire. At the same time, having learned that the body was found on a ranch owned by her estranged grandmother, Kinsey journeys into the past to retrace her own family history. Once again, an intriguing plot, fully drawn characters, and wry humor prove why Grafton's series is one of the best. With nine letters to go, one hopes she can keep it up. For all mystery collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/02.]-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Back in 1969, Det. Stacey Oliphant of the county sheriff’s office and Lt. Con Dolan of Santa Teresa Homicide discovered the body of a young woman in Grayson Quarry who was never identified. Now that Stacey’s been diagnosed with lymphoma, Con, himself sidelined by his heart condition, asks Kinsey Millhone (P Is for Peril, 2001, etc.) to do the legwork for the aging buddies as they struggle one last time to close the case. It’s an impossible job. Whatever legal or medical records might have helped are long gone (though Kinsey’s hopeful that Jane Doe’s distinctive teeth may still tell a story); potential witnesses’ memories have faded or been addled by repeating the same story too many times; and the two lead investigators are at serious risk, not from the perp, but from death of natural causes. The convoluted, fact-based tale—studded with masterful portraits of the dying detectives, a couple of dead-alive ex-cons, and the might-as-well-be-dead suspects—has run half its course before the victim is identified as a wild high-school girl who slept around so indiscriminately and exhaustively that half the population of little Quorum, California, seems to think her violent death was no more than she deserved.

Despite a bumper crop of Q’s, the late-arriving whodunit is tangled and routine, and Kinsey’s latest inconclusive flirtation with her own past—the owner of Grayson Quarry turns out to be the grandmother she’s never spoken to—awaits resolution, perhaps in R Is for Relatives.

First printing of 650,000; Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection; Doubleday Book Club/Literary Guild/Mystery Guild main selection; author tour

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425192726
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/30/2003
  • Series: Kinsey Millhone Series , #17
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 169,146
  • Product dimensions: 4.36 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author


New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton is published in 28 countries and 26 languages—including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. Books in her alphabet series, begun in 1982, are international bestsellers with readership in the millions. And like Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker, and John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—Sue Grafton has earned new respect for the mystery form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.

Sue divides her time between Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky, where she was born and raised. She has three children and two grandchildren. Grafton has been married to Steve Humphrey for more than twenty years. She loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine.

Biography

Sue Grafton is published in 28 countries and 26 languages -- including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. She's an international bestseller with a readership in the millions. She's a writer who believes in the form that she has chosen to mine: "The mystery novel offers a world in which justice is served. Maybe not in a court of law," she has said, "but people do get their just desserts." And like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker and the John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—she has earned new respect for that form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.

But who is the real Sue Grafton? Many of her readers think she is simply a version of her character and alter ego Kinsey Millhone. Here are Kinsey's own words in the early pages of N Is for Noose:

"So there I was barreling down the highway in search of employment and not at all fussy about what kind of work I'd take. I wanted distraction. I wanted some money, escape, anything to keep my mind off the subject of Robert Deitz. I'm not good at good-byes. I've suffered way too many in my day and I don't like the sensation. On the other hand, I'm not that good at relationships. Get close to someone and the next thing you know, you've given them the power to wound, betray, irritate, abandon you, or bore you senseless. My general policy is to keep my distance, thus avoiding a lot of unruly emotion. In psychiatric circles, there are names for people like me."

Those are sentiments that hit home for Grafton's readers. And she has said that Kinsey is herself, only younger, smarter, and thinner. But are they an apt description of Kinsey's creator? Well, she's been married to Steve Humphrey for more than twenty years. She has three kids and two grandkids. She loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine—not quite the nature-hating, fast-food loving Millhone. So: readers and reviewers beware. Never assume the author is the character in the book. Sue, who has a home in Montecito, California ("Santa Theresa") and another in Louisville, the city in which she was born and raised, is only in her imagination Kinsey Millhone -- but what a splendid imagination it is.

Biography from author website

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    1. Hometown:
      Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 24, 1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, University of Louisville, 1961
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

1.

It was Wednesday, the second week in April, and Santa Teresa was making a wanton display of herself. The lush green of winter, with its surfeit of magenta and salmon bougainvillea, had erupted anew in a splashy show of crocuses, hyacinths, and flowering plum trees. The skies were a mild blue, the air balmy and fragrant. Violets dotted the grass. I was tired of spending my days closeted in the hall of records, searching out grant deeds and tax liens for clients who were, doubtless, happily pursuing tennis, golf, and other idle amusements.

I suppose I was suffering from a mutant, possibly incurable form of spring fever, which consisted of feeling bored, restless, and disconnected from humanity at large. My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private detective in Santa Teresa, California, ninety-five miles north of Los Angeles. I'd be turning thirty-seven on May 5, which was coming up in four weeks, an event that was probably contributing to my general malaise. I lead a stripped-down existence untroubled by bairn, pets, or living household plants.

On February 15, two months before, I'd moved into new offices, having separated myself from my association with the law firm of Kingman and Ives. Lonnie Kingman had purchased a building on lower State Street, and though he'd offered to take me with him, I felt it was time to be out on my own.

That was my first mistake.

My second was an unfortunate encounter with two landlords in a deal that went sour and left me out in the cold.

My third office-related error was the one I now faced. In desperation, I'd rented space in a nondescript cottage on Caballeria Lane, where a row of identical stucco bungalows were lined up at the curb like the Three Little Pigs. The block-short, narrow, and lined with cars-ran between Santa Teresa Street and Arbor, a block north of Via Madrina, in the heart of downtown. While the price was right and the location was excellent-in easy walking distance of the courthouse, the police station, and the public library-the office itself fell woefully short of ideal.

The interior consisted of two rooms. The larger I designated as my office proper; the smaller I was using as a combination library-and-reception area. In addition, there was a galley-style kitchen, where I kept a small refrigerator, my coffee pot, and my Sparkletts water dispenser. There was also a small fusty half-bath with a sorrowful-looking toilet and sink. The whole of it smelled like mildew, and I suspected at night wee creatures scuttled around the baseboards after all the lights were turned off. By way of compensation, the building's owner had offered unlimited cans of an off-brand paint, and I'd spent the better part of a week rolling coats of white latex over the former pulsating pink, a shade reminiscent of internal organs at work. He'd also agreed to have the rugs cleaned, not that anyone could tell. The beige high-low, wall-to-wall nylon carpeting was matted from long wear and seemed to be infused with despair. I'd arranged and rearranged my desk, my swivel chair, my file cabinets, sofa, and assorted artificial plants. Nothing dispelled the general air of weariness that infected the place. I had plenty of money in savings (twenty-five thousand bucks if it's anybody's business) so, in theory, I could have held out for much classier digs. On the other hand, at three fifty a month, the space was affordable and satisfied one of my basic principles in life, which is: Never, never, never, to live beyond my means. I don't want to be compelled to take on work to meet my overhead. The office is meant to serve me, not the other way around.

Since the bungalows on either side of mine were vacant, I was feeling isolated, which may account for a newfound ambivalence about my single status in a world of married folk. Except for two brief failed marriages, I'd been unattached for most of my natural life. This had never bothered me. More often than not, I rejoiced in my freedom, my mobility, and my solitude. Lately, circumstances had conspired to unsettle my habitual content.

Earlier that week, I'd encountered my friend Vera with her husband, (Dr.) Neil Hess. I was sneaking in a late-afternoon jog on the bike path at the beach when I'd spotted them sauntering along ahead of me. Vera was a former employee of California Fidelity Insurance, for which I'd also worked. She'd met Neil, decided he was too short for her, and tried passing him off on me. I knew at a glance they were smitten with each other, and despite protests to the contrary, I'd persuaded her that he was her perfect match, which had turned out to be true. The two of them were accompanied that afternoon by their eighteen-month-old son in his stroller and a grinning golden retriever pup, frolicking and prancing, tugging at his leash. Vera-massive, lumbering, milky, and serene-was clearly expecting again, apparently in mere days, judging by her swollen state. We paused to chat and I realized that in the three and a half years since I'd last seen her, my life hadn't changed a whit. Same apartment, same car, same work, same boyfriend in absentia in a relationship that was going no place. The revelation generated a prolonged pang of regret.

Meanwhile, Henry, my beloved landlord, was off cruising the Caribbean in the company of his siblings and his sister-in-law, Rosie, who owns the tavern half a block from my apartment. I'd been bringing in his mail, watering his houseplants once a week and his yard every couple of days. Rosie's restaurant would be closed for another five days, so until the three of them returned home, I couldn't even have supper in familiar surroundings. I know all of this sounds ever so faintly like whining, but I feel morally obliged to tell the truth.

That Wednesday morning, I'd decided my attitude would greatly improve if I quit feeling sorry for myself and got my office squared away. To that end, I'd gone to a thrift store and purchased two additional (used) file cabinets, an upright wooden cupboard with assorted pigeon holes, and a funky painted armoire to house my accumulation of office supplies. I was perched on a low stool surrounded by cartons I hadn't unpacked since I'd moved into Lonnie's office three and a half years before. This felt a little bit like Christmas in that I was discovering items I'd long forgotten I had.

I'd just reached the bottom of box number three (of a total of eight) when I heard a knock at the door. I yelled "I'm here!" When I turned, Lieutenant Dolan was standing on the threshold, his hands sunk in the pockets of his tan raincoat.

"Hey, what are you doing here? It's been months." I got up and dusted my hand on the seat of my jeans before extending it to him.

His grip was strong and warm, his smile almost sheepish, as pleased to see me as I was to see him. "I ran into Lonnie at the courthouse. He said you'd rented this place so I thought I'd pop in."

"That's great. I appreciate the visit."

"I see you're getting settled."

"About time. I moved in February fifteenth and haven't done a thing."

"I hear business is slow."

"It is-at least the kind of jobs I like."

I watched while Con Dolan made a circuit of the room. He seemed ill at ease and covered his discomfort by wading through a steady stream of small talk. He chatted idly about Lonnie, the weather, and miscellaneous matters while I made what I hoped were the appropriate responses. I couldn't imagine what he wanted, but I assumed he'd get down to his purpose in due course. He'd never been the type to drop in unannounced. I'd known him for ten years, the greater portion of which he'd headed up the homicide unit of the Santa Teresa Police Department. He was currently out on a medical disability, sidelined by a series of heart attacks. I'd heard he was eager to return to work full-time. According to the scuttlebutt, his chances ran somewhere between slim and none.

He paused to check out the inner office, glanced into the half-bath, and then circled back in my direction. "Lonnie said you weren't crazy about the place and I can see your point. It's grim."

"Isn't it? I can't figure it out. I know it needs something, but I can't think what."

"You need art."

"You think so?" I let my gaze trace the bare white walls.

"Sure. Get yourself some big travel posters and some double-sided tape. It'd perk the place right up. Failing that, you might at least wipe the dust off the artificial plants."

He was in his early sixties and his cardiac problems had left his complexion looking sour. The usual bags under his eyes had turned a dark smokey shade, making his whole face seem sunken in circulatory gloom. He was apparently marking the time away from the department by shaving every other day, and this wasn't the one. His face had tended to be pouchy in the best of times, but now his mouth was pulled down in a permanent expression of malcontent. Just my kind of guy.

I could tell he was still smoking because his raincoat, when he moved, smelled of nicotine. The last time I remembered seeing him he was in a hospital bed. The visit had been awkward. Up to that point, I'd always been intimidated by the man, but then I'd never seen him in a cotton hospital nightie with his puckered butt on display through a slit down the back. I'd felt friendlier toward him since. I knew he liked me despite the fact his manner in the past had alternated between surly and abrupt.

I said, "So what's up? I can't believe you walked all the way over here to give me decorating tips."

"Actually, I'm on my way to lunch and thought you might join me-if you're free, that is."

I glanced at my watch. It was only 10:25. "Sure, I could do that. Let me get my bag and my jacket and I'll meet you out in front."

We took off on foot, walking to the corner, where we turned right and headed north on Santa Teresa Street. I thought we'd be going to the Del Mar or the Arcade, two restaurants where guys from the PD gravitated for lunch. Instead, we soldiered on for another three blocks and finally turned into a hole-in-the-wall known as "Sneaky Pete's," though the name on the entrance sign said something else. The place was largely empty: one couple at a table and a smattering of day drinkers sitting at the far end of the bar. Dolan took a seat at the near end and I settled myself on the stool to his left. The bartender laid her cigarette in an ashtray, reached for a bottle of Old Forrester, and poured him a drink before he opened his mouth. He paused to light a cigarette and then he caught my look. "What?"

"Well, gee, Lieutenant Dolan, I was just wondering if this was part of your cardiac rehabilitation."

He turned to the bartender. "She thinks I don't take very good care of myself."

She placed the glass in front of him. "Wonder where she got that?"

I pegged her in her forties. She had dark hair that she wore pulled away from her face and secured by tortoiseshell combs. I could see a few strands of gray. Not a lot of makeup, but she looked like someone you could trust in a bartenderly sort of way. "What can I do for you?"

"I'll have a Coke."

Dolan cocked his thumb at me. "Kinsey Millhone. She's a PI in town. We're having lunch."

"Tannie Ottweiler," she said, introducing herself. "Nice to meet you." We shook hands and then she reached down and came up with two sets of cutlery, encased in paper napkins, that she placed in front of us. "You sitting here?"

Dolan tilted his head. "We'll take that table by the window."

"I'll be there momentarily."

Dolan tucked his cigarette in his mouth, the smoke causing his right eye to squint as he picked up his whiskey and moved away from the bar. I followed, noting that he'd chosen a spot as far from the other drinkers as he could get. We sat down and I set my handbag on a nearby chair. "Is there a menu?"

He shed his raincoat and took a sip of whiskey. "The only thing worth ordering is the spicy salami on a kaiser roll with melted pepper jack. Damn thing'll knock your socks off. Tannie puts a fried egg on top."

"Sounds great."

Tannie appeared with my Coke. There was a brief time-out while Dolan ordered our sandwiches.

As we waited for lunch, I said, "So what's going on?"

He shifted in his seat, making a careful survey of the premises before his gaze returned to mine. "You remember Stacey Oliphant? He retired from the Sheriff's Department maybe eight years back. You must have met him."

"Don't think so. I know who he is-everybody talks about Stacey-but he'd left the department by the time I connected up with Shine and Byrd." Morley Shine had been a private investigator in partnership with another private eye named Benjamin Byrd. Both had been tight with the sheriff's office. They'd hired me in 1974 and trained me in the business while I acquired the hours I needed to apply for my license. "He must be in his eighties."

Dolan shook his head. "He's actually seventy-three. As it turns out, being idle drove him out of his mind. He couldn't handle the stress so he went back to the SO part-time, working cold cases for the criminal investigations division."

"Nice."

"That part, yes. What's not nice is he's been diagnosed with cancer-non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This is the second time around for him. He was in remission for years, but the symptoms showed up again about seven months ago. By the time he found out, it'd progressed to stage four-five being death, just so you get the drift. His long-term prognosis stinks; twenty percent survival rate if the treatment works, which it might not. He did six rounds of chemo and a passel of experimental drugs. Guy's been sick as a dog."

"It sounds awful."

"It is. He was pulling out of it some and then recently he started feeling punk. They put him back in the hospital a couple of days ago. Blood tests showed severe anemia so they decided to transfuse him. Then they decided while he was in, they might as well run more tests so they can see where he stands. He's a pessimist, of course, but to my way of thinking, there's always hope."

"I'm sorry."

"Not as sorry as I am. I've known him close to forty years, longer than I knew my wife." Dolan took a drag of his cigarette, reaching for a tin ashtray on the table next to us. He tapped off a fraction of an inch of ash.

"How'd the two of you hook up? I thought he worked north county. You were PD down here."

"He was already with the SO when our paths first crossed. This was 1948. I was from a blue-collar background, nothing educated or intellectual. I'd come out of the army with an attitude. Cocky and brash. Two years I knocked around, not doing anything much. I finally got a job as a pump jockey at a gas station in Lompoc. Talk about a dead end.

"One night a guy came in and pulled a gun on the night manager. I was in the backroom cleaning up at the end of my shift when I figured out what was going on. I grabbed a wrench, ducked out the side door, and came around the front. Guy was so busy watching to make sure my boss didn't call the cops, he never saw me coming. I popped him a good one and knocked him on his ass. Stacey was the deputy who arrested him.

"He's only ten years older than me, but he's the closest thing to a mentor I ever had. He's the one talked me into law enforcement. I went to college on the G.I. Bill and then hired on with the PD as soon as a job opened up. He even introduced me to Grace, and I married her six months later."

"Sounds like he changed the course of your life."

"In more ways than one."

"Does he have family in the area?"

"No close relatives. The guy never married. A while back, he was dating someone-if that's what you want to call it at our advanced age. Nice gal, but somehow it didn't work out. Since Grace died, the two of us have spent a fair amount of time together. We go hunting and fishing any chance we get. Now that I'm out on medical, we've done a lot of that of late."

"How's he dealing with all of this?"

"Up and down. Too much time on his hands and not a lot to do except brood. I can't tell you how many times I heard that one: guy retires after thirty years and the next thing you know he gets sick and dies. Stacey doesn't say much about it, but I know how his mind works. He's depressed as hell."

"Is he religious?"

"Not him. He claims he's an atheist, but we'll see about that. Me, I always went to church, at least while Gracie was alive. I don't see how you face death without believing in something. Otherwise, it makes no sense."

Dolan glanced up just as Tannie appeared with two large plates loaded with freshly made sandwiches and fries, plus two orders for the other table. Dolan interrupted his story to have a chat with her. I occupied myself with banging on the ketchup bottle until a thick drool of red covered the southeast corner of my fries. I knew he was leading up to something, but he was taking his sweet time. I lifted the top of the kaiser roll and salted everything in sight. Biting in, I could feel the egg yolk oozing into the bun. The combination of spicy salami and snappy pepper-hot jack cheese turned out to be the food equivalent of someone hollering Hot Damn! on the surface of my tongue. I made one of my food moans. Embarrassed, I looked up at them, but neither seemed to notice.

When Tannie finally left, Dolan stubbed out his cigarette and paused for an extended bout of coughing so fierce it made his whole body shake. I pictured his lungs like a set of black cartoon bellows, wheezing away.

He shook his head. "Sorry about that. I had a bad cold a month ago and it's been hard to shake." He took a swallow of whiskey to soothe his irritated throat. He picked up his sandwich and continued his story between bites, taking up exactly where he'd left off. "While Stacey's been laid up, I've been doing what I can to get his apartment cleaned. Place is a mess. He should be out of the hospital tomorrow and I didn't want him coming home to the sight of all that crap."

He set his sandwich down to light another cigarette, rolling it over to the corner of his mouth while he pulled out a cylinder of papers he'd tucked into his breast coat pocket. "Yesterday, I went through a pile of papers on his kitchen table. I was hoping to come across the name of a friend I could contact-somebody to cheer him up. Stace could use a little something to look forward to. Anyway, there was nothing of that nature, but I did find this."

He placed the curling sheaf on the table in front of me. I finished my sandwich in one last bite and wiped my hands on a napkin before I reached for the papers. I knew at a glance it was a copy of a Sheriff's Department file. The cover page was marked 187 PC, indicating it was a homicide, with a case number following. The pages were held together with fasteners, sixty-five or seventy sheets in all, with a set of handwritten notes inserted at the back. I returned to the cover page.

Victim: Jane Doe
Found: Sunday, August 3, 1969
Location: Grayson Quarry, Highway 1, Lompoc

Under "Investigating Officers," there were four names listed, one of them Stacey Oliphant's.

Dolan leaned forward. "You can see he was one of the original investigating officers. Stace and me were the ones who found the body. We'd taken a Jeep up there and parked off the side of the road to go deer hunting that day. I guess there's a gate across the road now, but the property was open back then. The minute we got out, we picked up the smell. We both knew what it was-something dead for days. Didn't take us long to find out exactly what it was. She'd been flung down a short embankment like a sack of trash. This is the case he was working when he got sick. It's always bugged him they never figured out who she was, let alone who killed her."

I felt a dim stirring of memory. "I remember this. Wasn't she stabbed and then dumped?"

"Right."

"Seems odd they never managed to identify her."

"He thought so, too. It's one of those cases really stuck in his craw. He kept thinking there was something he'd overlooked. He'd go back to it when he could, but he never made much progress."

"And you're thinking what, to have another go at it?"

"If I can talk him into it. I think it'd make a world of difference in his attitude."

I leafed through the photocopies, watching the progression of dates and events. "Looks like just about everything."

"Including black-and-white prints of the crime scene photographs. He had another couple of files but this is the one caught my eye." He paused to wipe his mouth and then pushed his plate aside. "It'd give him a lift to get back into this and see about developing some information. He can act as lead detective while we do the legwork."

I found myself staring. "You and me."

"Sure, why not? We can pay for your time. For now, all I'm suggesting is the three of us sit down and talk. If he likes the idea, we'll go ahead. If not, I guess I'll come up with something else."

I tapped the file. "Not to state the obvious, but this is eighteen years old."

"I know, but aside from Stacey's interest, there hasn't been a push on this since 1970 or so. What if we could crack it? Think what that'd do for him. It could make all the difference." It was the first time I'd seen any animation in his face.

I pretended to ponder but there wasn't much debate. I was sick of doing paperwork. Enough already with the file searches and the background checks. "Stacey still has access to the department?"

"Sure. A lot of folks out there think the world of him. We can probably get anything we need-within reason, of course."

"Let me take this home and read it."

Dolan sat back, trying not to look too pleased. "I'll be over at CC's from six until midnight. Show up by eight and we can swing over to St. Terry's and bring Stacey up to speed."

I found myself smiling in response.

--from Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton, Copyright © October 2002, G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 69 )
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(35)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 70 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Q is for Quarry

    This book was a lot better then the last. It had a good ending and broght me back to why I love these books. Even though the murderer was obvious after it was disclosed for some reason I was suspecting someone else and was impressed how it played out. I loved that the idea behind this book was a true story. This is probably my favorite so far.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Great as usual!

    Each book gets better. Love this book series

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    Another Great Installment

    This Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton just keeps getting better and better. Worth the read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Slow burner this time, but excellent as always

    Q is for Quarry.
    In my ongoing re-read /inspiration/learning quest (and in anticipation of the soon to be released V is for Violence in November of this year) I picked up Q is for Quarry over the weekend. This is 17th book in the Kinsey Milhone series and while I adore Sue Grafton's work, this was not exactly my favorite of the series. Grafton is a master of pacing, giving both Kinsey and the reader just enough time to catch our breath in between scenes. I found this one just a tad slower than the usual pace of the books. That being said, this is still excellently crafted. The plot is complicated, with players coming and going throughout, but no end is left loose. Misdirection and mounting frustration build throughout the book until I wanted to throw it around the room (fortunately calmer senses prevailed and I didn't propel my Nook across the room.). Even if I had though, I would have picked it right up again. Only one complaint, there is a subplot involving Henry that seems a little less gracefully worked than usual. The answers are found later in the series, but it is a bit confusing if you were a first time reader. I also found myself getting a little annoyed with Kinsey and her attitude toward family. She has questions and there are living relatives to answer them. Perhaps I am projecting my own adoption issues onto Kinsey, but I wanted to tell Kinsey, stop whining, just sit down and have a talk already, it won't kill you. Fortunately, 17 books into the series, I think that Grafton has earned the right to extend her questions across books, and even let her characters while just a little bit.

    My review: 4 of 5 tars this time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    amazing read

    I have read all the other books in this series, this one is amazing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2009

    Its real life...

    I have read that a few readers are really upset about "Q" is for Quarry. Well I must say that I am too excited and going out to buy "Q" today. I am a loyal reader and can never wait for the next letter. I've read most of the books in one day! I understand you guys want Kinsey to have a "good man" and be happy. But if you think about it, how often does a girl find true love? This is real life, you go thru life meeting different men that teach you different things about yourself and life. I believe that Kinsey is at the prime of her life and career. A man would really only slow her down. She will find love, like we all do. I'm sure that is a plan of Sues in the near future. But it's usually a long road to happiness. Sue keep up the good work, you're the best. And I must say that out of 21 books, there's bound to be one that isn't as exciting or fast-paced as the one before. But to have caught national attention and keep the same character going for so long....is truly talented!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2004

    If she writes it, you will read it!

    Grafton is the ultimate mystery writer. She blends intrigue with a twist here and a turn there and I love her gimmick! Very clever lady. What's up after the alpabet series???

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2003

    Q is for Quiet

    I thought this was the slowest read of any of the 'alphabet' books. The end seemed machinated to me. I liked the idea of linking the story to some real open case, but the character development was poor and the story lagged. I guess even a great series of books (and I love this one) has a clunker now and then.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2014

    Fire mountain

    It is a giant ruby jutting out of the earth with hot lava rolling down its walls. A statue of a great white dragon rests at the top.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Very different - good read.

    Being hooked on this series I like the continuing saga of Kinsey Millhone, detective. Just wish they would get up in times and have a cell phone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    Hu

    &hearts

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Yvybninibuvtxry

    Vyvuiniihtfrdbuninyrdrcninuhtfrfybin

















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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

    Stalker

    Stalker

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  • Posted May 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I really liked this one.

    The core tale, based on fact, is as unsettling as it is gripping: Eighteen years ago, the unidentified body of a young girl was discovered decomposing in Grayson Quarry of Santa Teresa, California. Detective Stacey Oliphant and Lt. Con Dolan, two driven cops who've hung with the case for most of their careers, have never been able to learn who the woman was or catch her killer. Battling age and health issues, they ask Kinsey to take a crack at solving the "Jane Doe" mystery. Although all leads are long-cold by now, Kinsey follows every one of them up, interviewing witnesses whose memories of events have either dwindled or become wholly fictitious with time. One of her only clues is the woman's prominent teeth, which she hopes will spark someone's recollection. At the center of the puzzle lies not only a killer but also a link to Kinsey's own troubled past.

    Q Is for Quarry eases you into its plot with Grafton's smooth writing style and swift plotting. Grafton knows her characters and their situations and explores them thoroughly -- it's those relationships that become the cornerstone of the novel as the mystery grows more intriguing and the investigation progresses. This is an author who understands how to let police procedure form the gist of the story while never allowing it to overshadow the humanity of her cast. The result is another impossible-to-put-down Grafton mystery.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    The main character in the novel Q is for Quarry is Kinsey Millhone who is a private detective in the Santa Teresa, California. She teams up with an old detective named Con Dolan who asks Kinsey for some help with an old case that he and his old partn

    Kinsey Millhone- A private detective in California who is still trying to find out what exactly she wants to do with her life. She has an office in the area of Santa Teresa and is starting to settle down when Con Dolan asks her for help with an old case that had never been solved.
    Con Dolan- A lieutenant who was out for a health disability after a series of heart attacks had knocked him out. For most of this professional life, he had headed up the homicide unit of the Santa Teresa Police Department. He still smokes and drinks a lot even though his doctors have told him specifically not to.
    Stacey Oliphant- An old partner of Dolan who was diagnosed with cancer in the beginning of the book that hinders him throughout the book. He was the original detective on the case of the body in the quarry and was never able to solve it or identify the body and it has haunted him ever since.
    "He placed the curling sheaf on the table in front of me. I finished my sandwich in one last bite and wiped my hands on a napkin before I reached for the papers. I knew at a glance it was a copy of a Sheriff Departments' file. The cover page was marked 187 pc, indicating it was a homicide, with a case number following. The pages were held together with a fastener, 65-70 sheets in all, with a set of handwritten notes inserted in the back. I returned to the cover page."
    Victim: Jane Doe
    Found: Sunday, August 3rd, 1969
    Location: Grayson Quarry, Highway 1, Lompoc

    I chose this passage because it is one of the most important parts of the book. Dolan and Kinsey are sitting in a restaurant eating when Dolan tells Kinsey of the idea he has to surprise Stacey to get him feeling better. Dolan presents Kinsey with this big folder of the homicide that Stacey was never able to solve or even identify the body. This is a turning point in the book because before this the characters in the story are not connected at all but this gives them a common goal to share. Kinsey immediately goes for the idea because she is struggling with her business and with what she wants to do with her life.

    The point of this book is the fact that two old detectives and one young one are trying to solve a homicide that went cold many years ago with one hope being that Stacey will benefit from it and recover. I agree that people should help their friends when their in need of it because we all need some help sometimes. There are no serious errors in the book that I picked up on while reading. The new ideas are that when older people need help they can ask and not feel threatened. Kinsey is an extraordinary help to Dolan and Stacey throughout the book with the work in the field because sometimes they end up in the hospital and can't be out there. This bo

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2006

    Must confess......

    I am a HUGE fan of Kinsey and Ms. Grafton. I am a loyal reader and will read each book that is released. That being said, I am having trouble with Q is for Quarry. I will admit, as much as I love Kinsey's independence and incredible sense of herself as a P.I., I also was CRAZY about her with Cheney Phillips in 'K', so I was pretty upset before I had read far into this book. Sure we want to see Kinsey succeed on her own, and she is doing that. However, I, for one, want her happy, loved, AND professionally successful. I thought Cheney would do nicely in the her life and was looking foward to seeing if their relationship would progress. Dietz is fine, and if it's him, so be it. I don't mean to dwell on the love life her, but for some reason, the beginning of Q just made me feel like I had been kicked in the stomach. I feel it is slow as well, but give Ms. Grafton great kudos for the message she imparts about Jane Doe. That being said, 'Q' has depressed me somewhat. I am almost done with it, but this time, too many aspects of our girl's personal life have left me wanting to cry for her. I have been loath to mention Detective Phillips until now because that is not what the series is about. I just had to say it this time. I want Kinsey to have it all. That includes a great man who is strong enough to hang around and let Kinsey be Kinsey. That way Kinsey gets is all and so do we!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2004

    Slow and boring

    Q is for Quarry is a disappointing novel at best. The ending was predictable and lame. I had heard great things about the Kinsey Millhone mysteries, but after reading three I can easily say I will never read another. Only the second book I've ever seriously considered not finishing. The idea of writing about a real unsolved case was good, but the plot was slow-moving and mundane.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2003

    highly anticipated but not her best

    perhaps kinsey needed to do her runs more in this book. slow. i love sue but my anticiptation was for not. one important ? i do have tho is i waited for the paperback in october 2003, any word on the missing jane doe in that year since hardcover publishing??

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2003

    Please speed up the next volume!

    Wonderful read. The facts and background detail intense. Grafton has done her homework and than some. Please don't make us wait too long for the rest of the series. Have read all A - Q!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2003

    Like Fine Wine, Grafton Just Gets Better & Better

    Kinsey's back and renewing an old friendship, making a new friend, and finally bringing closure to an eighteen year old murder. She is worrying over what to do with her office situation, eating junk food since Rosie and William and his siblings (including Harry) have gone on a cruise, but is happily without a man. You can hear the gears in her brain as Con Dolan has talked her into a scheme to get his best buddy, Stacey Oliphant, back into enjoying life (or at least what he has left). There is even a little more of her family of origin--and a new ambivelence (maybe she does want to get to know them a little? Or just wants to satisfy her own curiosity?) In other words, Kinsey is growing and evolving as a real person would, professionally, and personally. Let's hope we see more of Con Dolan and Stacey Oliphant--they're great surrogate uncles and it's nice to know that Con Dolan has developed a great respect for Kinsey's talents. I am eagerly awaiting R-Z!

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