Sue Grafton already has a faithful following.
Her fans have thus far read through 22 Kinsey Millhone novels from A to V and wait anxiously for the next.
So she could, at this juncture, just coast home if she wanted.
But she doesn't.
"W is for Wasted," due out Sept. 10, is clearly well-researched and carefully put together as Grafton weaves a story that ties in the plight of the homeless, the peril of managing tricky family relationships and the ethics involved in running clinical medical trials.
The story isn't predictable or well-worn.
Millhone is pulled in new directions as she tries to carry out the wishes of a homeless alcoholic who apparently tried to reach her before his death.
She meets people she didn't know belong in her life. She finds coincidences that, at first, have no reason to be connected.
She's on a kind of break from her regular detecting work and so has the rare opportunity to pursue this odd little mystery.
The story is new, but the familiar Kinsey Millhone is in charge, not afraid to ask questions, take thrilling small risks or challenge the secretary guarding the office tower.
She's funny and quick-thinking, street-smart and kind to stray kittens.
The dialogue is very smooth as the characters talk with their own distinct personality and their own wit. It's easy to separate them.
Grafton has no problem bringing the reader into a fairly complicated storyline that goes several directions at once and keeping them found.
And she does it cleanly even though she's dealing with guys who live in a makeshift hobo town and crooks who are pretty ruthless with a lot to lose.
There's no foul language and no graphic sexual passages to endure.
It's really a fast-moving, readable novel that bears the mark of a master storyteller who has done her homework.
It's a shame "W" is so close to the end of the alphabet.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.