Monday, November 25, 2013
Title: W is for Wasted
By: Sue Grafton
I have to confess I was not a Sue Grafton fan. For some reason, I used to be turned off by her formulaic, alphabetically ordered treatments of titles, not to mention her typecast characters and plot-driven story lines in the Kinsey Millhone mystery series. In response to public requests, SCPL has recently purchased all of Grafton’s available titles in unabridged CD and digital formats so as to upgrade its spotty and abridged Grafton collection.
I understand that mystery readers like to revisit their favorite authors and characters from time to time in a systematic fashion. I also understand that Sue Grafton’s PIs (private investigators), who operate in both California and Nevada, have many followers. But what is the real fascination with Sue Grafton, which has lasted over a span of more than three decades? Out of curiosity, I began with G is for Gumshoe and immediately fell under the spell of Kinsey Millhone. I wanted to know more about her past and future. So I went back to the very beginning, A is for Alibi (1982), when Kinsey, then 32, had just launched her PI career. Her latest, W is for Wasted (2013) enables readers to see that not only is Kinsey more mature and experienced in her investigation skills, but, more importantly, that Sue Grafton has developed Kinsey’s social consciousness towards homelessness and the competitive PI profession.
There is an additional bonus to listening to Sue Grafton, for the audio rendition is performed by two of the best female narrators, Mary Peiffer (A-N) and Judy Kaye (O-W). Listeners have identified their voices with Kinsey Millhone the same way we identify Maggie Smith with Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.