Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sue Grafton

I still remember finding A is for Alibi on a table at my local bookstore, years and years ago. I had heard about this "alphabet author" and feared her books might be gimmicky. Still, I picked it up and read the back cover. Then I read a little of the first chapter. I ended up buying the book, and I never looked back. I have read every one of the mysteries in Sue Grafton's alphabet series, and I haven't tired of her writing yet. I have my personal favorites, of course--G is for Gumshoe was, I thought, a perfect little mystery, and I is for Innocent was a wonderfully complex bit of plotting.

What I like best, of course, is Kinsey herself, and that sassy attitude that I always liked to think would be my attitude, too, were I as free as Kinsey (who keeps herself determinedly free). Grafton is a smart, funny writer, and it's not a surprise that she is at the top of the mystery writer hierarchy.

Grafton makes no secret of the fact that Ross MacDonald was one of her influences; this is something that she and I have in common. I fell in love with MacDonald's books around the same time that I fell for Grafton's. There are some similarities in their writing, but Grafton's work is lighter and funnier, even when the mysteries themselves have dark themes. MacDonald was never funny, but his metaphors are some of the best I've read in any genre: the sort that stayed with me, haunted me, after I had finished the book.

Sue Grafton is a beacon of hope for every mystery writer who aspires to have a long-running series. She will make it to the end of the alphabet, and she will do it because Kinsey is a clever creation who continues to grow and learn, even while maintaining her fun and sass, over the course of many novels.

Good for you, Sue! Thanks for all the page-turners.

(Image: http://www.bookpeople.com)

5 comments:

Deborah P said...

I'm a Sue Grafton fan as well. Happy birthday! And thanks, Julia, for posting on this.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Deborah. Do you know when the next Grafton comes out? It seems like we're about due for one. :)

Lill said...

Another Sue Grafton and Ross MacDonald fan here. I actually stumbled on Ross MacDonald when I was looking for John MacDonald books for my mother, who was a big fan of his. Serendipity. I avoided Sue Grafton for years, because of the alphabet gimmick, but then picked up "I is for Innocent" in a supermarket charity book bin and read it in a night. I love when I find an author who has published several books in a series and read the rest one after the other. The only quibble I have is that Kinsey's macha personality wears on me. While I admire the character's tenacity and toughness, I find it a bit unbelievable at times. Doesn't keep me from enjoying the books though.
Lill

Julia Buckley said...

HI, Lill! Oh, I agree. There are certain books that I like less, especially the ones in which Kinsey is snarky to her family. And I don't like it when a heroine very predictably will always break up with a love interest.

But she's still tops. I have read John D. MacDonald, but I put Ross in a different league--either next to or above Raymond Chandler.

Deborah P said...

Julia, I haven't heard when "T" comes out, but I'm more than ready as well. It's been so long since I read "S" that I may just read it again while I'm waiting.