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October 26, 2007

Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton is the author of a long (and to be honest, not entirely innovative) series of detective novels. They're known as the alphabet novels, "A is for Alibi", "P is for Peril" and so on. Grafton's been writing them for 25 years now and has perhaps another decade to go to finish the series.

Here's the wikipedia background on Sue Grafton:

Her experience as a screenwriter taught her the basics of structuring a story, writing dialogue, and creating action sequences, and Grafton felt ready to return to writing fiction.[3] While going through a "bitter divorce and custody battle that lasted 6 long years" Grafton would make herself feel better by imagining ways to kill or maim her ex-husband. Her fantasies were so vivid that she decided to write them down.[4]

She had long been fascinated by mysteries that had related titles, including those by John D. MacDonald, whose titles referenced colors, and Harry Kemelman, who used days of the week. While reading Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which is an alphabetical picture book of children who die by various means, she had the idea to write a series of novels based on the alphabet. She immediately sat down and made a list of all of the crime-related words that she knew. [3] This exercise led to her best known works, a chronological series of mystery novels. Known as "the alphabet novels," the stories are set in and around the fictional town of Santa Teresa, which is based on the author's primary city of residence, Santa Barbara, California (Grafton chose to use the name Santa Teresa as a tribute to the author Ross Macdonald, who had previously used this as an alternative name for Santa Barbara in his own novels).[5]

All novels of the series are written from the perspective of a female private investigator named Kinsey Millhone who lives in Santa Teresa, California. Grafton's first book of this series is "A" is for Alibi, written and set in 1982. The series continues with "B" is for Burglar, "C" is for Corpse, and so on through the alphabet. After the publication of "G" is for Gumshoe, Grafton was able to quit her screenwriting job and focus on her novels.[4] The timeline of the series is slower than real-time - "Q" is for Quarry, for example, is set in 1987, even though it was written in 2002. Her latest book, "S" is for Silence, was published in December 2005, and her next book, "T" is for Trespass, is due to be published in December 2007.

Grafton's novels are not, asmentioned, exactly groundbreaking. If you've read one or two you've got pretty much all of the joy you're going to get out of the whole series:

The middle of a (proposed) 26 book series isn't the place to look for innovative fiction, or anything other than more of the same. So I wasn't particularly disappointed to find Kinsey Millhone on much the same form as ever. Nothing fabulous but a reasonable mystery for the most part and pretty much what I expected. (....) I'll probably go back for Q at some point anyway. (I know, not exactly a ringing endorsement!)

It has to be said that they're enjoyable light reading but that's about it.

October 26, 2007 in Books | Permalink


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