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Originally from Louisville, KY, Sue Grafton is renowned worldwide for her alphabetical series of mysteries starring Kinsey Millhone, a private investigator in Southern California. The series came about when Grafton was going through a painful divorce and kept thinking of ways to kill her ex-husband - after realizing that wouldn't be a very good idea, she decided to write about the methods instead "...and get paid for it."

Born in 1940 to a chemistry teacher and a lawyer/author, Grafton graduated from the University of Louisville in 1961 having majored in English Literature. She published two novels early in her career, 1967's Keziah Dane and The Lolly-Madonna War in 1969, then spent time as a medical secretary, admissions clerk, and cashier at various hospitals and offices in southern California. She later worked as a writer in Hollywood, churning out several screenplays in less than ten years. She married Steven Humphrey in 1978, and together they adapted Agatha Christie novels into plays and co-wrote other theatrical works. In 1982, Grafton saw triumph and tragedy - she published the first of the Kinsey Millhone series, but in the same year lost her father. A longtime attorney who had also written several mysteries, C.W. Grafton had been a profound influence on his daughter. Still, she continued to produce Kinsey stories, and by the early 1990s was able to earn her income solely from writing. Today, Grafton spends time with her three children and two grandchildren (one of whom is named Kinsey), and enjoys her cats, gardens, and food cooked by her personal chef. Readers often wonder how much of Sue is in Kinsey, and the author admits that while both go running to exercise a few mornings per week and they have similar attitudes, she maintains that the character at times has a mind of her own. In 1997, she cooperated with Natalie Kaufman and Carol Kay on their book G is for Grafton, providing them with working journals and extensive notes so they could form a book about the world of Kinsey Millhone, including maps, diagrams, photos, relationships, social issues, and details on Grafton's writing style, awards, and her place in the development of the detective novel.

My introduction to Sue Grafton's work came in the summer of 2000, while I was in line at Union Station to take a train to New York City. The woman behind me had been reading a book when she suddenly piped up "I just realized I've already read this, does anybody else want it?" Nobody answered, so I offered to take the hardcover off her hands. It turned out to be L is for Lawless, and had been on sale at the station's Barnes & Noble. I hadn't really brought anything else with me to read, so after finding a seat and settling down I read the blurb on the inside jacket cover. It looked awfully fluffy, but wouldn't light reading be appropriate for a nearly-four-hour trip? So I began to read, and by the time we reached Penn Station I was hooked. I honestly cannot explain why I like the series so much, but since that first book I have snapped up copies of previous letters at yard sales, in Salvation Army stores, and wherever else I can find them. When the latest in the series - P is for Peril - came out, I was right up front during her presentation and gladly stood in line to get my own shiny new hardcover signed. Perhaps what's so appealing is how accessible both the books and their author are. They are all fast reads, but I've never solved the case before Kinsey has - the books are easy to read and yet very absorbing. Before meeting the very friendly Sue at the book signing, I had talked with her and her fans through the discussion board on her own website - not only does she participate in the conversation, but she sends holiday cards to fans who have contacted her through the site. Many authors have seemed distant and aloof to me, but Sue Grafton is cheerful and respects her fans.


  • Novels
  • Short Stories
    • She Didn't Come Home (1986)
    • Murder Between The Sheets (1986)
    • The Parker Shotgun (1986)
    • Falling Off the Roof (1989)
    • A Poison That Leaves No Trace (1990)
  • Plays
    • Lolly-Madonna XXX, with Rodney Carr-Smith (1973)
    • With Friends Like These, Rhoda series (1975)
    • Walking Through the Fire, from a book by Laurel Lee (1979)
    • Sex and the Single Parent, from a book by Jane Adams (1979)
    • Nurse, from a book by Peggy Anderson (1980)
    • Mark, I Love You, from a book by Hal Painter (1980)
    • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers series, with Steven Humphrey (1982-83)
    • A Caribbean Mystery, with Steven Humphrey, from the novel by Agatha Christie (1983)
    • A Killer in the Family, with Steven Humphrey and Robert Aller (1983)
    • Sparkling Cyanide, with Steven Humphrey and Robert Malcolm Young, from the novel by Agatha Christie (1983)
    • Love on the Run, with Steven Humphrey (1985)
    • Tonight's the Night, with Steven Humphrey (1987)
  • Filmography
    • Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973) (novel)
    • Walking Through the Fire (1979) (TV)
    • Sparkling Cyanide (1983) (TV screenplay)
    • A Killer in the Family (1983) (TV)
    • A Caribbean Mystery (1983) (TV screenplay)
    • Love on the Run (1985) (TV)
    • Tonight's the Night (1987) (TV)


Book tour appearance, 6 June 2001, Arlington, VA

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