Sue Grafton's Alphabet series

25 July 2016

By Pan Macmillan

Sue Grafton'sAlphabet series of novels, featuring clever, feisty and funny Californian private eye Kinsey Millhone,from A to X.

 

'My name is Kinsey Millhone. I am a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I am thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind.'

In 1982, Sue Grafton introduced us to Kinsey Millhone. Now, over thirty years later, Kinsey is an established international icon and Sue, a bestselling author.

Over the course of Grafton’s Alphabet Series, known as such for the letter-themed titles, readers have fallen for the novels’ dysfunctional detective. Driving a decrepit Volkswagen, cutting her own hair and living in what is ostensibly a garage, Kinsey has won over readers with her ingenuity, wit and dogged dedication to her cases.

Grafton intends for Kinsey to keep solving crimes on the streets of southern California all the way up to Z.

A is for Alibi

When Laurence Fife was murdered, few cared. Plenty of people in the picturesque Southern California town of Santa Teresa had reason to want him dead. Including, thought the cops, his young and beautiful wife, Nikki. The Jury thought so too.

Eight years later and out on parole, Nikki Fife hires Kinsey Millhone to find out who really killed her husband.

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B is for Burglar

There was nothing about Beverly Danziger to cause Kinsey concern. She was looking for her sister. She paid up front. And if it seemed a lot of money for a routine job, Kinsey wasn’t going to argue.

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She kicked herself later for the things she didn’t see - Beverly Danziger didn’t seem like someone longing for a family reunion. But just as Kinsey begins to suspect foul play and start asking questions, Beverly Danziger fires her . . .

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C is for Corpse


Kinsey met Bobby Callahan in the gym on Monday morning.His story was hard to credit: a murderous assault by a tailgating car on a lonely rural road, a roadside smash into a canyon 400 feet below, his Porsche a ruin, his best friend dead, and his memory severely impaired. He was convinced someone was trying to kill him.By Thursday, he was dead.

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D is for Deadbeat

He introduced himself as Alvin Limardo. The job he hired Kinsey to do seemed easy enough . . . until his cheque bounced. His real name was Dagett. John Dagett. Ex-con. Inveterate liar. Chronic drunk. And dead.The cops called it an accident – death by drowning. Kinsey wasn’t so sure. The man, it seemed, had a lot of enemies . . .

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E is for Evidence

It was two days after Christmas when Kinsey Millhone received the bank slip showing a credit for five thousand dollars.The account number was correct but Kinsey hadn’t made the deposit.

Then came the phone call and suddenly everything became clear. The frame-up was working and Kinsey was trapped . . .

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F is for Fugitive
Seventeen years had passed since Jean Timberlake’s body had been found at the foot of the sea wall.At the time, Bailey Fowler, an ex-boyfriend of hers, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Now he’d changed his tune.

Kinsey Millhone is called in to solve the case – then she stumbles on the dark secrets of a family’s buried past . . .

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G is for Gumshoe

Three things happened on May 5, the day everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Kinsey Millhone.

The repairs were completed on her apartment, and she moved back in. She was hired by Mrs Clyde Gersh to bring her mother back from the Mojave Desert.

And lastly, a real surprise. The news that she’d made one of the top slots on Tyrone Patty’s hit list . . .

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H is for Homicide
After a three-week-long investigation, Kinsey couldn’t wait to get home.

What she needed most was a few quiet days by herself – but two things happened to change all her plans. First she ran into a murder case. Then Kinsey met Bibianna Diaz, and before the night was over they were sharing a prison cell . . .

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I is for Innocent
Kinsey was out of work. Attorney Lonnie Klingman’s usual private investigator had just dropped dead of a heart attack. Kinsey was more than happy to oblige.

The trouble started on the very first day of the investigation. Either Kinsey’s predecessor was incompetent – or someone had been getting away with murder. And next time it might turn out to be hers . . .

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J is for Judgement

For Kinsey Millhone, the investigation started with a surprise visit from an ex-colleague at California Fidelity - the company that had fired her nine months previously.

Fives hours later she was on a plane to Mexico, hot on the trial of a suicide who'd allegedly just come back to life.

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K is for Killer

Lorna Kepler was beautiful and wilful, a loner who couldn't resist flirting with danger.

She has also been found dead in mysterious circumstances and her death pulls Kinsey Millhone into a netherworld of deception, betrayal and unavenged murder . . .

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L is for Lawless
It was the week before Thanksgiving when Kinsey Millhone first heard the sad story of the late Johnny Lee, the World War II fighter pilot of whom, rather mysteriously, the military authorities have no record.

His family are concerned – perhaps Kinsey could make a few calls, straighten things out?

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M is for Malice

'M' is for Malek family: four sons now nearing middle age who stand to inherit a fortune – four men with very different temperaments and needs, linked only by blood and money. Eighteen years ago, one of them – angry, troubled and in trouble – went missing.

'M' is for Millhone, now hired to trace that missing black sheep brother.

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N is for Noose

Only six weeks have passed since detective Tom Newquist died of a heart attack. His widow is sure he was keeping secrets from her just before he died – and she hires Kinsey to find out exactly what.

But all Kinsey can uncover is that Newquist led an exemplary life, so what could he possibly have to conceal?

Kinsey’s on the point of giving up. Until she discovers a chilling new clue: a childish drawing of a thick length of rope – fashioned into a hangman’s noose . . .

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O is for Outlaw

The call comes on a Monday morning from a guy who scavenges defaulted storage units at auction. He's found a load of stuff – Kinsey stuff. For thirty bucks, he'll sell her the lot. Curiosity wins out and she hands over a twenty (she may be curious but she loves a bargain). What she finds amid childhood memorabilia is an old undelivered letter.

It will force her to re-examine her beliefs about the break-up of her first marriage, about the honour of her first husband, about an old unsolved murder. And it will put her life in the gravest peril.

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P is for Peril
 
It is now nine weeks since Dr Dowan Purcell vanished without trace. The sixty-nine-year-old doctor had said goodnight to his colleagues at the Pacific Meadows nursing home, had climbed into his car and driven away – never to be seen again.

Enter private investigator Kinsey Malone, hired to find out just what has happened.

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Q is for Quarry
 
She was a 'Jane Doe', an unidentified white female whose decomposed body was discovered near a quarry off California's Highway 1. The detectives had little to go on, and after months of investigation, the murder remained unsolved.

That was eighteen years ago. Now the two men who found the body, both nearing the end of long careers in law enforcement, want one last shot at the case . . . and they turn to Kinsey Millhone to help them find closure.

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R is for Ricochet
 
Kinsey Millhone, employed by Nord Lafferty to drive his daughter home from her incarceration at the Californian Institute for Women, marvels at the simplicity of the task.

As she finds herself befriending the ex-gambler, ex-alcoholic and ex-con, Kinsey discovers that Reba had taken the fall for her boss, also her lover, Alan Beckwith, who has so far escaped the clutches of the FBI.When Reba hears of shocking new information about her lover, she is suddenly all too eager to do everything she can to ruin him.

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S is for Silence

Just after Independence Day in July 1953 Violet Sullivan, a local good time girl living in Serena Station Southern California, drives off in her brand new Chevy and is never seen again. Left behind is her young daughter, Daisy.

Now, thirty-five years later, Daisy wants closure.

Reluctant to open such an old cold case Kinsey Millhone agrees to spend five days investigating, but very soon it becomes clear that a lot of people shared a past with Violet, a past that some are still desperate to keep hidden.

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T is for Trespass

When her elderly neighbour Gus has an accident, Kinsey Millhone is relieved when his niece organises a nurse for him. Verifying a background check on Solana Rojas doesn’t turn up anything suspicious. But Kinsey’s not convinced – especially when Gus seems to be getting worse under his nurse’s tender care.

Not only is Solana not who she seems to be but she’s more than able to play Kinsey at her own game. Suddenly the tables have turned and it’s Kinsey who’s on the wrong side of the law . . .

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U is for Undertow

In 1960s Santa Teresa, California, a child is kidnapped and never returned.

When the case is reopened after twenty years, a man - Michael Sutton - contacts private detective Kinsey Millhone for help. He claims to have recalled a strange and disturbing memory which just might provide the key to the mystery. He may have stumbled across the kidnappers burying Mary Claire Fitzhugh’s body . . .

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V is for Vengeance
 
Kinsey Millhone finds herself assisting to apprehend a shoplifter - Audrey Vance - in a shopping centre. Events take a much darker turn when Audrey's body is discovered beneath the Cold Spring Bridge, a local suicide spot.

Unable to believe she took her own life, Audrey's fiancé Marvin Striker hires Kinsey to investigate. It soon emerges that the shoplifter had become caught up in a much larger operation.

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W is for Wasted

The first was a local PI of suspect reputation, gunned down near the beach at Santa Teresa. The other was on the beach six weeks later. He'd been sleeping rough. Probably homeless. No identification. A slip of paper with Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone's name and number was in his pants pocket. The coroner asked her to come to the morgue to see if she could ID him.Two seemingly unrelated deaths, one a murder, the other apparently of natural causes.

In this multilayered tale, the surfaces seem clear, but the underpinnings are full of betrayals, misunderstandings, and outright murderous fraud. And Kinsey, through no fault of her own, is thoroughly compromised . . .

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X

When a glamorous red head wishes to locate the son she put up for adoption thirty-two years ago, it seems like an easy two hundred bucks for P. I. Kinsey Millhone.

But when a cop tells her she was paid with marked bills, and Kinsey's client is nowhere to be found, it becomes apparent this mystery woman has something to hide. Riled, Kinsey won't stop until she's found out who fooled her and why.

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X
A is for Alibi
B is for Burglar
C is for Corpse
D is for Deadbeat
E is for Evidence
F is for Fugitive
G is for Gumshoe
H is for Homicide
I is for Innocent
J is for Judgement
K is for Killer
L is for Lawless
M is for Malice
N is for Noose
O is for Outlaw
P is for Peril
Q is for Quarry
R is for Ricochet
S is for Silence

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