Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sue Grafton April 24, 1940 - Dec. 28, 2017 Writer of Alphabetized Detective Yarns

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sue Grafton April 24, 1940 - Dec. 28, 2017 Writer of Alphabetized Detective Yarns

Article excerpt

Mystery writer Sue Grafton, whose fictional female detective, Kinsey Millhone, solved crimes through an alphabetical series of adventures, has died in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 77.

Her daughter, Jamie Clark, said her mother passed away Thursday night after a two-year battle with cancer and was surrounded by family, including Ms. Grafton's husband, Steve.

Ms. Grafton was the author of the so-called Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series in which each book title begins with a letter from the alphabet. The last was "Y is for Yesterday," published this year. Her Z adventure was planned for 2019.

Her daughter said, "The alphabet now ends at Y."

A former Hollywood script writer from Louisville, Ky., Ms. Grafton began her self-imposed alphabet marathon with "A Is for Alibi," published in 1982. By the time she came to Pittsburgh in October 2013 - to speak as part of the Monday Night Lecture Series presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland - she was up to the letter W and looking forward to winding up her series.

"Looking back, I think, 'What a cheeky thing to do. How amazingly arrogant to think I could do it,'" Ms. Grafton said in an interview with Post-Gazette staff writer Marylynne Pitz.

Ms. Grafton said some letters were harder than others.

'"S Is for Silence' and T were hard," she said. "I was changing the way I was doing the writing process. It took me a long time to sort out how to tell those two stories."

So, she filled a lot of notebooks.

"It took me a year to figure out which story to start with. I would try it one way, and it would collapse on itself. If I tried it the other way, it seemed coincidental. Finally, I got how to do it. Once I understand how to go about it, it always seems so self-evident," she said.

As all marathon runners know, there comes a point when it seems impossible to go on.

"I did hit the wall around S and T. Cleverly, I just retooled and figured out that I could do multiple points of view. …

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