Last Friday (December 29), a good friend sent me a text saying, "Did you hear Sue Grafton died?" I hadn't and felt a pang of grief. Grafton is the author of the alphabet mystery series featuring Kinsey Millhone, the smart and oh so independent private investigator. With Y is for Yesterday being the last volume published in the series, she died one book short of completing the A-to-Z set. The books are set in the 1970's, before the availability of personal computers, and so Millhone relied on the 3-by-5 index card and her own reasoning powers to solve one mystery after another. I share her love of index cards, still using multiple cards per day, and even included a quote in praise of the index card from M is for Malice in my first book, Just Think, as you'll see in the above photo. Millhone was also the original fashion minimalist.
In gratitude to and memory of Grafton, I'm reprinting here a post I wrote in 2011:
AE is for alter ego
Over New Year's weekend I read Sue Grafton's latest volume in her alphabet mystery series, U is for Undertow. To read a mystery sometime over the Christmas/New Year's holiday has become somewhat of an unintentional tradition, perhaps stemming back to childhood days of getting at least one Nancy Drew mystery for Christmas and quickly reading cover to cover. This year I realized that for the last handful of years, the mystery--again, unintentionally--had been an alphabet mystery. Kinsey Millhone, the private investigator in Grafton's series, seems a good friend by now whom I'm happy to revisit, having been with her in alphabetical order since A is for Alibi. Strangely, she always motivates me to get my life in order--to do work-related paperwork in a timely manner, to appreciate sitting down to pay bills, to stop work each night at a reasonable time, and to get up and get going to the office early, to act independently and ask good questions, to take more risks and trust my instincts. I even tried peanut butter and pickle sandwiches because of Kinsey and like them. Reading about her limited wardrobe--jeans, a turtleneck and blazer, and a black dress she can roll up in a ball and smoosh into her purse without causing even a trace of a wrinkle--I think she has the wisdom of Einstein, who reportedly wore the same thing every day, and I want to purge my closet. Most importantly, she motivates me to keep using index cards, which I really can't live or work without but in this technological age feel ever more antiquated when I buy a new pack. I'm always sad to get to the end of one of these books because then there is the long wait to the next. Plus the series is almost done, with only the mysteries of V, W, X, Y, and Z left to come.
If you want a smart but fun read now in the middle of a cold winter, I encourage you to try this series; start with "A." If you don't get around to it until months from now, there would be no better beach read in July.
[Photo taken of page 132 from my book, Just Think: Nourish Your Mind to Feed Your Soul; quote is from Sue Grafton's, M is for Malice.]