I am often at a loss when I’m asked to name my favorite author. Truth is, I don’t have one favorite author. Sometimes the answer is as easy as naming the author of the book I’m currently reading. Perhaps that makes me a less critical reader than some. I don’t know. I do know that I can readily name a number of ‘favorite’ authors of different genres.
Sometimes I indulge myself by binge reading the works of one author. For example, in honor of Sue Grafton’s recently released ‘Y is for Yesterday’, the penultimate book in her alphabet series, I choose Ms. Grafton as my favorite murder mystery author. I enjoy reading the works of other crime fiction writers, and I am an avid reader of certain suspense/thriller authors. Grafton’s murder mysteries are less ‘gritty’ than those written by other crime/suspense authors that I follow. I love the quirky private investigator, Kinsey Millhone, who is the sometimes narrator and always protagonist of this series which Grafton started over 35 years ago with the publication of “A is for Alibi”.
I recently decided to revisit the series, but I couldn’t remember where I had left off. I chose to start with “Q is for Quarry” as an audio book companion for my daily commute. As I got into the story, ably read by Judy Kaye, who in my mind IS Kinsey Millhone, I realized I had read/heard it before. That knowledge didn’t stop me from continuing to listen. I remembered some of the story, but not the ‘meat’. Besides, I relished visiting with Kinsey again. I moved on to “T is for Trespass” and “U is for Undertow”, which, as it turned out, I had also read. It didn’t matter. Grafton crafts compelling mysteries and the time I spend with Kinsey feels like I’m visiting with a funny, opinionated, and rough around the edges, friend. I’ve already got the audiobook versions of “V is for Vengeance” and “W is for Wasted” queued up on my phone.
For those who are not familiar with the series, you are missing a treat. Kinsey is not your average private investigator. She is a twice divorced woman in her late thirties who was orphaned at the age of five and brought up by a maiden aunt who was not ‘touchy feely’. Kinsey struggled through high school and hung out with the ‘losers’. After a short and unsuccessful stint in community college, she decided on a career in law enforcement. After two years she decided she wasn’t cut out for a regimented life taking orders. As a P.I. she doesn’t always follow the rules, but she is dogged and determined and has a softer heart for the underdog than she would willingly admit to. She lives in a small apartment in a converted garage next to her landlord, and best friend, Henry, a spry octogenarian.
Grafton’s characters are well developed and the relationships between the core character contingent continue to grow and morph through each of the books. Each book’s story line, however, stands alone and the crime (sometimes a twenty year old unsolved murder) is solved by the end of the book with lots of twists and turns throughout.
Stay tuned for my next Favorite Authors blog.
*Note: Photo borrowed from Sue Grafton’s website: suegrafton.com