I was in Waterstones the other day, just browsing (very dangerous), when I came across Y is for Yesterday. I’m a huge fan of Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series, so I’m not sure how I missed it… But anyway, there it was, and right there on the front it said THE FINAL KINSEY MILLHONE MYSTERY. After a frenzied Google search, it turns out Sue Grafton passed away at the beginning of the year. And, since I de-installed the Guardian app, I’m just learning this now. I can’t believe it! That means not only no “Z is for Zero”, but no more Kinsey Millhone. Y is for Yesterday is the last book in the series. I’m completely gutted! We will never know what happens to Kinsey and Henry and all the other characters we’ve come to know and love. How would Sue Grafton have left it? Do they all die? Did Kinsey ever retire or settle down? Would it have been left open ended? We will never know…
Y is for Yesterday is every bit as brilliant as the rest of the series. Honestly, Sue Grafton just doesn’t have an “off” day.
The characterisation has been deeply embedded through the series of 25 books, so, when we come to Y, we’re already well acquainted with the cast and their quirks. Less is spelled out for the reader than might have been previously, which might make it less enjoyable as a standalone. But I think there’s enough in there for the first time to reader to pick it up. We also see the return of several old favourites, and the evolution of their own stories, which felt to me like the beginnings of a wrapping up. We can only wonder where it was heading…
Kinsey is simply my favourite detective. Do I like her more than Poirot, or Miss Marple? More than Albert Campion? Or Maisie Dobbs? It’s a very close call. The Alphabet series is up there with the greats. Kinsey is simply a fantastic protagonist. Smart, ballsy, kick-ass, and supremely human. I have a deep attachment to her. She’s come to feel like an old friend.
The plotting is, as we have come to expect, brilliant. A good mystery allows the reader to be one step ahead of the detective, while simultaneously maintaining the tension and suspense to the end; and Sue Grafton was the master of this art. There’s plenty of twists and turns, and well-developed sub-plots which keep the reader hooked.
The books also have a subtle, slightly sarcastic humour, which gives the writing its strongly felt voice and contributes to their inimitable style.
I was, I will admit, a little dubious about the return of Pearl (who was a sub-character in a previous book) and the way she was introduced at the start of Y is for Yesterday. However, it became evident by the end that she had an integral part to play in the story. As always, the plot was so carefully planned that the detail is impeccable.
The descriptive writing in the Alphabet series is what makes it for me. There is such a strong and detailed sense of place, and it gives the mystery a unique sense of realism.
I thorough enjoyed Y is for Yesterday, and would highly recommend the whole series for mystery fans. I can only mourn the fact there won’t be a “Z”…
If you haven’t read this series, I do suggest you start with “A is for Alibi“, but here are 3 of my favourite books in the series…
I is for Innocent is the ninth in the Kinsey Millhone mystery series by Sue Grafton.
I feel compelled to report that at the moment of death, my entire life did not pass before my eyes in a flash . . . What I experienced was a little voice piping up in an outraged tone: “Oh come on. You’re not serious. This is really it?”
It was a Monday early in December when Kinsey Millhone first got involved in the Isabelle Barney murder case.
She was out of work. Attorney Lonnie Klingman’s usual private investigator had just dropped dead of a heart attack. Kinsey was more than happy to oblige.
The trouble started on the very first day of the investigation. Either Kinsey’s predecessor was incompetent – or someone had been getting away with murder. And next time it might turn out to be hers . . .
E is for Evidence is the fifth in the Kinsey Millhone mystery series by Sue Grafton.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I cherish my unmarried state. I’m female, twice divorced, no kids and no close family ties. I’m perfectly content to do what I do . . .
It was two days after Christmas when Kinsey Millhone received the bank slip showing a credit for five thousand dollars.
The account number was correct but Kinsey hadn’t made the deposit.
Then came the phone call and suddenly everything became clear. The frame-up was working and Kinsey was trapped . . .
K is for Killer is the eleventh in the Kinsey Millhone mystery series by Sue Grafton.
Lorna Kepler was beautiful and wilful, a loner who couldn’t resist flirting with danger. She has also been found dead in mysterious circumstances and her death pulls Kinsey Millhone into a netherworld of deception, betrayal and unavenged murder . . .