Wednesday 28 February 2024: A plot flaw?

Before we’d had our tea on Monday, son #2 came to see his dad for his birthday. He stayed for quite a while and we really put the world to rights between us. I got up to feed the dog at about 8pm and, realising the time, son #2 went back home and the poet got ready to make a quiche for our tea…but we already had the quiche. That was a nice surprise for him!

I finished reading B IS FOR BURGLAR and finally put my finger on why that book always left me confused. There’s a spoiler at the bottom of today’s post, after the line, for anyone who’s read the book and didn’t spot it. It’s also at the bottom of the post for anyone who wants to read the book to ignore.

Another reviewer complained about a lack of continuity, but he was mistaken.

He said that Kinsey (the MC, for those who don’t know) had left her keys in the ignition of her car in case she needed a quick getaway and then a few moments later used said keys from the back pocket of her jeans to try and help herself out of a jam. I checked that one, and she did indeed remove the keys from the ignition, but she left the door to the car ajar in case she needed a quick getaway. So phooey to that one.

Sue Grafton herself won’t care a hoot about either of these things, but her surviving family might. There’s nothing that can be done about it now either. But perhaps other writers would try to be more careful if they realised even someone like Grafton could make such a howling mistake.

It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the Kinsey Millhone stories. A lot of the reviewers complained that there was too much description in the books, or that Kinsey fat-shamed people. Well, yes, both are true. But these early books were written in the 1980s and are very much a product of their time. That doesn’t make it right, but it is something to bear in mind.

Yesterday, I fired up my Kindle and opened up C IS FOR CORPSE. But I’ll be paying closer attention this time.

Much of yesterday was spent working on THE SECRET OF WHITEHORSE FARM. I watched a few more Save the Cat lectures and I fleshed out the main character until both of her designated pages in my notebook were filled. Yes, I do have a lot of this story already planned and written, but I’m also stalling a bit too often, and I think it’s because I’m not working to a solid plan, only a vague one.

When I had a full-time job, I wrote NIGHT CRAWLER, 75,000 words, in 3 months. I wrote MARDI GRAS, 43,000 words, during one NaNoWriMo. I wrote A HISTORY OF CADBURY, 60,000 words, in another NaNoWriMo. And when I was ghostwriting, I could write 83,000 words in 5 weeks…with perhaps a week off in between to recover.

So I know that if I have a solid plan, then I can write at warp speed. And while it won’t quite be a shiny, polished final draft, it won’t be a scruffy, scrappy first draft either and will need the barest of editing.

At 2pm, my telephone appointment for 2 of the private pensions called. He said he couldn’t help me with one as it’s about to mature (they knew that when I made the appointment…), and when I said I didn’t want to cash the other one in early, we terminated the call as there was no need for him to speak to me after all.

I called the number for the pension that matures next month, and they arranged a call-back telephone appointment for 2pm today.

As soon as the poet came home (early), we headed off to the dentist, where we spent more than 2 hours! Talk about thorough. We were both impressed, though – we should be at their prices! – and we both felt more confident with a dentist than we have for 10 years. We both need treatment, but not as much as we thought when we haven’t seen a dentist since before lockdown. I still don’t like it, but that’s me.


Bookmark this page and come back after you’ve read the story, if you intend on reading the story.

Close to the start of B IS FOR BURGLAR, a woman called Beverly asks Kinsey to find her missing sister Elaine. Kinsey speaks to the caretaker of Elaine’s flat, Tillie, who tells Kinsey that Elaine had told her she was very upset over the murder of her neighbour Marty and a few days later she packed up and went to her summer home.

Well, SPOILER! Marty wasn’t the murder *victim* but the *murderer*. Elaine was the victim (which most readers guessed anyway).

So how did Elaine get upset about the murder of Marty when Elaine herself was the person who was murdered by Marty?

I would have found it more believable had it been one of the killer’s cohorts that span Kinsey the tale. But it wasn’t. It was someone who was very concerned that her friend and neighbour had vanished without a trace.

Call me picky, but…this isn’t just a continuity issue. Nor is it a red herring. It’s a major flaw. Especially when Kinsey repeats the original story to herself later in the book. And if it was done on purpose, then it’s a cheat.

I’d like to think it was a mistake.


4 thoughts on “Wednesday 28 February 2024: A plot flaw?

  1. Sounds like everything is percolating along.

    I enjoyed the Kinsey Milhone series; I was reading them as they came out, and they spoke to me. I remember finding a big error in a particular book where it didn’t make sense to me, and I guess this one was it? Now you’re inspiring me to go back and re-read them all, although it’ll probably be a few months before I can.

    1. This book is quite confusing as Tillie initially says that she didn’t speak to Elaine before she disappeared, that she just saw her getting into a taxi-cab. At first, Kinsey relates this to herself too. But then when Tillie and Kinsey are clearing Tillie’s yard, Kinsey asks again about Elaine, and that’s when Tillie says that Elaine was upset by the murder of Marty.

      There’s a later one too that I found confusing. I haven’t got back to that one yet. But this one, as I was reading, I was thinking Elaine had to be the body but then she couldn’t be if she was upset when the body was discovered.

    1. Yes, it is. And it was early in Grafton’s novel-writing career too, so the editor wouldn’t have been intimidated by a famous name, as so often seems to be the case these days. Or shouldn’t have been.

Comments are closed.