Y Is for Yesterday | Book Review

Y Is for Yesterday is the 25th installment in Sue Grafton’s long-running Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series. Kinsey is asked to investigate the blackmail of a young man just released from juvenile detention for a homicide he committed a decade earlier. As she begins to question family and friends, she uncovers a web of secrets and lies that lead to murder.

At the same time, she keeps looking over her shoulder for the serial killer who failed to silence her six months earlier and still wants revenge. (That story is told in Grafton’s previous novel, X.)

I first heard of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries while living and working in Santa Barbara, California more than ten years ago. Santa Teresa—where Kinsey lives and works as a private investigator—is a lightly fictionalized Santa Barbara, so it was easy for me to imagine her pounding the pavement in search of justice, or at least answers. I started with A Is for Alibi, got hooked instantly, and have since worked my way through the alphabet one letter at a time.

It’s hard to believe that Sue Grafton has been at this series since 1982, when A Is for Alibi was published, but I’m glad she’s persisted. This book is a page-turner, and I look forward to reading Z Is for Zero in 2019.


Book Reviewed:
Sue Grafton, Y Is for Yesterday (New York: G. Putnam’s Sons, 2017).

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

Review of ‘X’ by Sue Grafton

xSue Grafton, X (New York: Putnam, 2015). Hardcover | Kindle

X is the twenty-fourth installment in Sue Grafton’s long-running Kinsey Millhone mysteries. Set in Santa Teresa, California—a lightly fictionalized Santa Barbara—the novel follows two story lines: Kinsey looking for a client’s long-lost son and trying to close out a late colleague’s still-open case. There’s also a contretemps with her annoying, elderly neighbors.

I am a huge fan of this series, having read each of the novels in order, beginning with A Is for Alibi. Patrick Anderson has written, “Grafton’s Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.” I agree. Kinsey is likeable, whip-smart, and plucky. You cheer for her as she sees justice through in each case.

That said, X is the best novel of the series. (I wonder if it has to do with the difficulty of finding a suitable crime to include in the title. The other novels follow the A Is for Alibi title formula. Here, there’s no X Is for _____.) It opens with one story line but spends the bulk of the novel focused on the other story line. The lines never come together, and the annoying neighbors seem like a distraction too. The neighbors get what’s coming to them in the end, but of the two major storylines, only one reaches a satisfactory resolution.

X may not be the best novel in the series, but it’s always good to hear from Kinsey. I’m already looking forward to Y.


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

Review of ‘W Is for Wasted’ by Sue Grafton

W-Is-for-WastedSue Grafton, W Is for Wasted (New York: Putnam, 2013). Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

To be honest, I don’t remember how I learned about Sue Grafton’s series of Kinsey Millhone mysteries or when I first read them. I do know this, however: I’ve read them all and loved every one. I typically start and finish a novel within a 24-hour period. For me, any mystery that keeps me turning pages is a good mystery. By that standard, the latest installment in Grafton’s long-running series is a good mystery.

In W Is for Wasted, Kinsey learns about two murders: a distant relative she never knew and a fellow private investigator she never trusted. Some of the action takes place in Bakersfield, California, in the late 1980s, but most of it takes place in Kinsey’s hometown of Santa Teresa, California—a fictionalized version of Santa Barbara. (Having lived in Santa Barbara, it’s fun plotting Grafton’s place and street names onto the real things.)

As Kinsey investigates the first murder—and gets drawn into the investigation of the second—she befriends the homeless, antagonizes the wealthy, makes frenemies of newfound family members, interacts with old flames, and even takes a shine to her neighbor Henry’s new cat, Ed. If you’ve read the other books in Grafton’s series, you’ll appreciate the evolution of her character. If not, you’ll enjoy the mystery as it slowly unfolds.

One recommendation, though: If you’ve never read any of the other books in this series, do yourself a favor and start with A Is for Alibi. If you like that one, work your way up to W Is for Wasted in alphabetical order. Each book stands on its own, of course, but the real payoff is to read the series.


P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

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