December 17, 2009 |
In 1982, reviewing Sue Grafton's first private detective novel, "A Is for Alibi," the pseudonymous New York Times crime fiction critic Newgate Callendar wondered, "Will the series take hold? This first book is competent enough, but not particularly original." Twenty-seven years on, Callendar's dismissive attitude toward the book -- and its tough-minded thirtysomething heroine Kinsey Millhone -- demonstrates the dangers of prognostication and how instantaneous judgments don't age well. Grafton's alphabet-titled series not only took hold, but the books are also available in 28 countries (and 26 languages)
December 4, 2007 |
It's been two years since Sue Grafton's last alphabet mystery -- "S is for Silence" -- and, judging by her newest, the vacation has invigorated both her and her series star, Kinsey Millhone. The latter, as mystery lovers know, is a street-smart private detective plying her perilous trade in Santa Teresa, a California coastal city bearing more than a coincidental similarity to the Santa Barbara area, where the author resides.
December 5, 2005 |
Using fingers and toes and a passable knowledge of the alphabet, it's not difficult to conclude that "S is for Silence" is Sue Grafton's 19th novel to feature her redoubtable but credibly flawed, plain-talking private detective Kinsey Millhone. Even if that doesn't put the character in the same bookshelf-crowding company as such fictional workaholics as the late Ed McBain's 87th Precinct cops or Robert B. Parker's Spenser, it's still a notable run.
July 11, 2004 |
Fans of Sue Grafton who try to guess future alphabet-influenced titles of her novels featuring private detective Kinsey Millhone probably missed the boat on No. 18, "R Is for Ricochet." Even after reading it, one may wonder why the author selected that particular "R" word, since neither guns nor bullets are featured prominently. "This is a story about romance -- love gone right, love gone wrong, and matters somewhere in between," narrator Millhone tells us upfront.
October 20, 2002 |
"Q is for Quarry," Sue Grafton's 17th Santa Teresa caper, begins at Grayson Quarry beside Highway 1 near Lompoc, just north of Santa Teresa, where the corpse of an unknown girl is found in the summer of 1969. The Jane Doe and her killer remain unidentified and the mystery unsolved until a lifetime later when the two police detectives who failed to crack the case get back on the trail. They are both retired and afflicted with the ills of age; reopening the case provides an interest.
April 3, 2000 |
Fifteen down and 11 books to go. For Sue Grafton, it's a good thing there are only 26 letters in the alphabet. Since "A Is for Alibi" was published in 1982, Grafton has been working her way to Z, chronicling the adventures of Kinsey Millhone, a tough, unpretentious private detective who pays her disability insurance even before her rent.