Sunday, December 31, 2017

Finding Success, One Hurdle at a Time

Sue Grafton was so well known for her Kinsey Millhone private-eye series, that I’d quite forgotten she composed any books prior to A Is for Alibi. The Gumshoe Site’s Jiro Kimura reminded me of the truth in his succinct obituary of the author:
Sue Grafton died of [cancer of the appendix] on December 28 at a hospital in Santa Barbara, California. The younger daughter of mystery writer-lawyer C.W. Grafton was miserable with her second husband and wrote novels at night after her day job (at a hospital in L.A.) and housework (at home in Santa Barbara). Two of her written novels were published (Keziah Dane, Macmillan U.S., 1967; and The Lolly-Madonna War, Owen UK, 1969) before A Is for Alibi (Holt, 1982). The Lolly-Madonna War was turned into the movie Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973) with her co-written script, resulting in her working in Hollywood. She co-wrote for TV programs such as Rhoda and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and [scripted] two TV movies based on Agatha Christie's novels (A Caribbean Mystery and Sparkling Cyanide, both in 1983). To her, A Is for Alibi, the first in the Kinsey Millhone series, “was a ticket out of Hollywood.” She received three Lifetime Achievement Awards: one from the Private Eye Writers of America [PWA] in 2003 (The Eye); second from the Crime Writers Association of Britain in 2008 (The Diamond Dagger): and third from the Mystery Writers of America in 2009 (The Grand Master). She won three PWA Shamus awards—for B Is for Burglar (1985), G Is for Gumshoe (1990), and K Is for Killer (1994), as well as the 1991 Falcon Award from the Maltese Falcon Society Japan for F Is for Fugitive. Her last novel was Y Is for Yesterday (Putnam, 2017), and her alphabet series has ended at Y because she would not allow any movies or TV shows or continuation sequels. She was 77.
That last note, about how she forbade the publication of any “continuation sequels,” surprises me. I’d assumed, after hearing of Grafton’s demise just one novel short of her filling out the alphabet, that some writer friend of hers or other author would push to concoct a 26th Millhone investigation. But it sounds like that won’t happen.

SEE MORE:Remembering Sue Grafton: Sparkling Cyanide (1983),” by Elizabeth Foxwell (The Bunburyist).

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