Grafton, Sue

Sue Grafton (1940 – 2017) wrote suspense, thriller and mystery fiction.

Sue Grafton


Writing this post was difficult, as this wonderful author passed away last week — it felt eerie to change the date on her dedicated page on my blog from “Present” to “2017.” Rather than focus on the loss, I choose to celebrate the great talent and human being she was. I’d just graduated from college when I began reading cozy mystery novels, stumbling upon this series shortly after picking up Sara Paretsky’s VI Warshawski series. I was enamored with the idea of an author committing to writing 26 books in the Alphabet Series, but astounded when I learned she’d been writing already for over a decade… and that the first book took place in 1982. I was a tad concerned whether or not I could last in a series that would stay firmly put in the 1980s, as the character couldn’t possibly age 40 years as the author finished writing the series. But I almost never felt that way once I dived in to the books… it was a world I loved to be part of.

Santa Teresa, the small California town where it takes place reminded me of so many of the villages I visited when I lived in San Francisco. Grafton’s words and imagery bring you to the setting more than most other authors — it felt entirely too real, as did the heroine, Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey was an older sister to me, someone I could call up when I needed a few hours away from my life. She always delivered. She always made my day brighter. She always left me happier. I finished reading 22 of her books, and by 2005, I’d caught up where I was one of the first people at the bookstore to buy the new release. In time, I picked up too many other series and fell a bit behind, but I’ve purchased W, X and Y, the only 3 left I haven’t read. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Z will be published, but time will tell.

Grafton was at the head of the curve when it came to the development of the mystery series novels. Sure, there was the Golden Age in the early 20th century with Christie and the rest of the gang, but when it was re-invigorated in the 1980s with authors like Lilian Jackson Braun, Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton, the world of literature took a great leap forward again. Thousands of authors have used her style, pattern and themes over the years to find a cohesive book series, but few have found the truly intimate yet traditional approach that Grafton found. I will always appreciate her voice, not only in her books, but in the way she carried herself and interacted with the public. I admire her and would love to have met this fine writer.

If you’ve never read one of her books, and you’re willing to commit to read the whole series, start with A is for Alibi. If not, message me and we’ll figure out the best one for you to take on, if you just want a sample. In her honor, Fri 1/5’s Author Alert is dedicated to Sue Grafton.

To read any book reviews I’ve written on her work, click the link below. To learn more about this author, you can visit her website @


Book Series – Kinsey Millhone Mysteries

  1. A is for Alibi (1982)
  2. B is for Burglar (1985)
  3. C is for Corpse (1986)
  4. D is for Deadbeat (1987)
  5. E is for Evidence (1988)
  6. F is for Fugitive (1988)
  7. G is for Gumshoe (1990)
  8. H is for Homicide (1991)
  9. I is for Innocent (1992)
  10. J is for Judgment (1993)
  11. K is for Killer (1994)
  12. L is for Lawless (1994)
  13. M is for Malice (1996)
  14. N is for Noose (1998)
  15. O is for Outlaw (1999)
  16. P is for Peril (2000)
  17. Q is for Quarry (2002)
  18. R is for Ricochet (2004)
  19. S is for Silence (2005)
  20. T is for Trespass (2007)
  21. U is for Undertow (2009)
  22. V is for Vengeance (2011)
  23. W is for Wasted (2013)
  24. X (2015)
  25. Y is for Yesterday (2017)
  26. Z is for Zero (latest news says it will not be published posthumously)

Note: If there is an active link, I’ve completed a review.