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given us stories that reveal Kinsey’s origins and Sue’s past. “I've come to believe that Grafton is not only the most talented woman writing crime fiction today but also that, regardless of gender, her Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.”—Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post Kinsey and Me has two parts: The nine Kinsey stories given us stories that reveal Kinsey’s origins and Sue’s past. “I've come to believe that Grafton is not only the most talented woman writing crime fiction today but also that, regardless of gender, her Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.”—Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post Kinsey and Me has two parts: The nine Kinsey stories (1986-93), each a gem of detection; and the And Me stories, written in the decade after Grafton's mother died. Together, they show just how much of Kinsey is a distillation of her creator’s past even as they reveal a child who, free of parental interventions, read everything and roamed everywhere. But the dark side of such freedom was that very parental distance. The same unique voice and witty insights readers fell in love with in A Is for Alibi permeate the Kinsey stories. Those in the And Me section trace a remarkable voyage, from anger to understanding, from pain to forgiveness. They take us into a troubled family, dysfunctional as most families are, each in their own way, but Grafton’s telling is sensitive, delicate, and ultimately, loving. Enriching the way we see Kinsey and know Sue, these stories are deeply affecting. 311 KB


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given us stories that reveal Kinsey’s origins and Sue’s past. “I've come to believe that Grafton is not only the most talented woman writing crime fiction today but also that, regardless of gender, her Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.”—Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post Kinsey and Me has two parts: The nine Kinsey stories given us stories that reveal Kinsey’s origins and Sue’s past. “I've come to believe that Grafton is not only the most talented woman writing crime fiction today but also that, regardless of gender, her Millhone books are among the five or six best series any American has ever written.”—Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post Kinsey and Me has two parts: The nine Kinsey stories (1986-93), each a gem of detection; and the And Me stories, written in the decade after Grafton's mother died. Together, they show just how much of Kinsey is a distillation of her creator’s past even as they reveal a child who, free of parental interventions, read everything and roamed everywhere. But the dark side of such freedom was that very parental distance. The same unique voice and witty insights readers fell in love with in A Is for Alibi permeate the Kinsey stories. Those in the And Me section trace a remarkable voyage, from anger to understanding, from pain to forgiveness. They take us into a troubled family, dysfunctional as most families are, each in their own way, but Grafton’s telling is sensitive, delicate, and ultimately, loving. Enriching the way we see Kinsey and know Sue, these stories are deeply affecting. 311 KB

30 review for Kinsey and Me Free Preview

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    I picked this up from the library last week thinking I’d never read it. Two stories in, I realized I had already read it. So I’ll review what I can from memory. If you’ve never read a Grafton before, it’s a good one to cut your teeth on. If you love the detailed mystery it will fall short. If you just like the character you’ll love it. I’m in the middle. So it gets a 3 star rating from me. Good characters. Interesting backstory. Fun to learn about the author. I like the interaction at different I picked this up from the library last week thinking I’d never read it. Two stories in, I realized I had already read it. So I’ll review what I can from memory. If you’ve never read a Grafton before, it’s a good one to cut your teeth on. If you love the detailed mystery it will fall short. If you just like the character you’ll love it. I’m in the middle. So it gets a 3 star rating from me. Good characters. Interesting backstory. Fun to learn about the author. I like the interaction at different parts or ages in Kinsey’s life. Mysteries were too easy to solve. Not long enough to get vested. It is supposed to be this way tho. So I get it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Luanne Ollivier

    I read my first Sue Grafton book over twenty years ago. We had just moved to a small town and of course one of the first places I visited was the local library. It was housed on the main floor of an old house on Main Street at that time. The collection was small, but the enthusiasm of the librarian evident. I asked her if she could suggest a good read, nothing too heavy as I had a newborn and long reading periods were non-existent and oh, I did like mysteries.....Well, you guessed it - she put A I read my first Sue Grafton book over twenty years ago. We had just moved to a small town and of course one of the first places I visited was the local library. It was housed on the main floor of an old house on Main Street at that time. The collection was small, but the enthusiasm of the librarian evident. I asked her if she could suggest a good read, nothing too heavy as I had a newborn and long reading periods were non-existent and oh, I did like mysteries.....Well, you guessed it - she put A is for Alibi (originally published in 1982) in my hand - and a fan was born. I've read every one since and am looking forward to W is for ?, due out later this year. This 'alphabet' series features private eye Kinsey Millhone who lives and works in Santa Teresa, California. The books are set in the 1980's, so our sleuth uses 'old fashioned' methods to solve her cases. I can open the latest book and feel like I'm catching up with a familiar friend. Kinsey is wry and witty. She's a darn good sleuth and a really nice person. Grafton always comes up with a plausible plot that keeps me interested from first page to last. Kinsey and Me was originally released in 1992 with a limited run of 326 copies. This newest version is just released. The book is divided into two parts - the first half is a collection of Kinsey stories and the smaller second half is a set of stories featuring Kit Blue. What made reading these special was the foreword where Grafton explains writer's craft - specifically that of a detective short story. It was really interesting to see the method behind the result. "For me, the mystery short story is appealing for two reasons. One, I can utilize ideas that are clever, but too quirky or slight to support the extended trajectory of the novel. And two, I complete a manuscript in two weeks as opposed to the longer gestation and delivery time required of a novel. The short story allows me to shift gears. Like an invitation to go outside and play, the shorter form offers a refreshing change of pace." Some of the Kinsey stories I had come across before in various anthologies. But I enjoyed each one thoroughly. They were like a little Kinsey microcosm, offering the reader a glance and a taste of this iconic character. But, it was the introductions that really made this book personal. Grafton offers up Kinsey as her alter ego - "The person I might have been had I not married young and had children." We become privy to the similarities between the fictional Kinsey's life and Sue Grafton's. The Kit Blue stories were new to me and I think they affected me the most. "If Kinsey Millhone is my alter ego, Kit Blue is simply a younger version of me." Sue Grafton's parents were both alcoholics. The Kit stories were written ten years after the death of Grafton's mother. "...my way of coming to terms with my grief for her." They are raw, powerful and real, filled with overwhelming emotion and honesty. These are the stories that stayed with the longest. I really enjoyed Kinsey and Me - an opportunity to visit with a familiar character, but also a chance to learn more about a favourite author. "It amuses me that I invented someone who has gone on to support me. It amuses her, I'm sure, that she will live in the world long after I am gone. I trust that you will enjoy her companionship as I have." Indeed we do, Sue, indeed we do.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I enjoyed the ten short stories. The thirteen autobiographical stories were sad and depressing, although they do explain the author's outlook. I have been reading and enjoying Sue Grafton's alphabet series since 1995. Now that I have read this book, I can better understand Kinsey Millhone and how much of Sue Grafton is part of her. I enjoyed the ten short stories. The thirteen autobiographical stories were sad and depressing, although they do explain the author's outlook. I have been reading and enjoying Sue Grafton's alphabet series since 1995. Now that I have read this book, I can better understand Kinsey Millhone and how much of Sue Grafton is part of her.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    It’s January 5, 2018. Sue Grafton died just a little more than a week ago. So I thought it seemed fitting to dig into her book of short stories, Kinsey and Me: Stories. I’ve long been a fan of the alphabet series, following private detective Kinsey Millhone from A is for Alibi through Y is for Yesterday. Sadly, the alphabet ends there. Sue Grafton was primarily a novelist, but she did write a number of short stories. Kinsey and Me is a collection of Kinsey Millhone short stories in the first par It’s January 5, 2018. Sue Grafton died just a little more than a week ago. So I thought it seemed fitting to dig into her book of short stories, Kinsey and Me: Stories. I’ve long been a fan of the alphabet series, following private detective Kinsey Millhone from A is for Alibi through Y is for Yesterday. Sadly, the alphabet ends there. Sue Grafton was primarily a novelist, but she did write a number of short stories. Kinsey and Me is a collection of Kinsey Millhone short stories in the first part, followed by a second part that contains stories based on Grafton’s own life with alcoholic parents. Many of these works have previously been published in other anthologies. Her Kinsey stories are like the typical Kinsey novels, only not. Some of them feel a bit rushed. But I enjoyed the situations Kinsey finds herself in – I mean, how does anyone invent these crazy crimes? Some of these people are downright mean. Or bad. Or dumb. My favorite story was “The Lying Game”, which Ms. Grafton explains she wrote at the request of Lands’ End for its 40th anniversary catalogue. Humorists Garrison Keillor and Roz Chast had agreed to contribute, and being a huge fan of both, Sue agreed to write something as well. In the preface, she explains that she is part of Kinsey and Kinsey is part of her. There is humor and candor there, and it seems that the two are good friends, so to speak. She also talks about the art of writing and the evolution of the hard-boiled detective novels that now include people of all ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. She writes about her family: her alcoholic parents, who are the foundation of the Kit Blue stories in part two. She speaks with adoration of her husband and children. She concludes her preface with these words: “What I’ve noticed is that any attempt to trim out the dark matter takes away some of the good that was also buried in the muck. The past is a package deal and I don’t believe there’s a way to tell some of the truth without telling most. Wisdom comes at a price and I have paid dearly for mine.” Sue Grafton is referring to her Kit Blue stories. My gut reaction to these was that they are sad and depressing. I knew as I read them that they are, in part, Ms. Grafton’s story. As she says in her preface, she realized after writing the Kit stories that she was working through her feelings about her mother. The stories read more like a journal, although most of them are written in third person. As the events unfold, Kit gradually comes to see her mother more as a total human being, someone who was happy once and someone whom she actually loved. There is also a bit of insight into her relationship with her father and his relationship to her mother. I could see how writing likely brought comfort, awareness, and healing to Ms. Grafton as a young woman when she decided to embark on her new career. Granted, some of the Kinsey short stories, uh, fell short in their details and story line. But overall, most were entertaining enough. Who knew that behind that beautiful, gracious, smiling face on all those book covers was a past filled with so much pain? I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that this woman who captivated us with 25 PI novels is no longer around to write Z is for Zero. Thank you, Sue Grafton, for providing so many hours of reading pleasure. You live on in Kinsey Millhone! 4 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    miteypen

    I give the first half of the book one star and the second half four, but I still only rated the book at two stars because it was such a disappointment overall. I'm glad I didn't buy the book, because I would have felt cheated. The Kinsey stories were a failure for the most part. There was no real plot development and Kinsey solves the mysteries too easily. Most of the endings were too abrupt and usually insipid. And Kinsey's personality doesn't shine through at all. Some of the stories had poten I give the first half of the book one star and the second half four, but I still only rated the book at two stars because it was such a disappointment overall. I'm glad I didn't buy the book, because I would have felt cheated. The Kinsey stories were a failure for the most part. There was no real plot development and Kinsey solves the mysteries too easily. Most of the endings were too abrupt and usually insipid. And Kinsey's personality doesn't shine through at all. Some of the stories had potential if they had been a novel, but now they've been used (wasted) in the wrong format. On the other hand, the second part of the book showed just how good a writer Grafton really is. All the vignettes (I wouldn't exactly call them short stories) were sensitive portraits of a dysfunctional family and I really liked the way Grafton examined her relationship with her parents, particularly her mother, from different perspectives. (I'm assuming that these are autobiographical.) I've rarely read such a spot-on description of depression and alcoholism anywhere. The book doesn't take long to read so the first part can be dispensed with pretty rapidly so you can finally get to the good part.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    ARC copy. Kinsey and Me: Stories is a rare treat for a mystery fan and for students of the writer's craft. The Kinsey short stories show exactly why Grafton has such a loyal following. They are fun and well crafted with surprisingly complexity for their given space. The ...and Me stories - more vignettes, really - are what push this collection into something special. They are raw and heartbreaking and beautiful; I applaud Grafton's courage and willingness to share them. To the fan, though, they ARC copy. Kinsey and Me: Stories is a rare treat for a mystery fan and for students of the writer's craft. The Kinsey short stories show exactly why Grafton has such a loyal following. They are fun and well crafted with surprisingly complexity for their given space. The ...and Me stories - more vignettes, really - are what push this collection into something special. They are raw and heartbreaking and beautiful; I applaud Grafton's courage and willingness to share them. To the fan, though, they are also a trove of unexpected insights into the character and world of Kinsey Millhone. It really is unusual to get to see so clearly how a fiction series is informed by the interior landscape of an author.

  7. 5 out of 5

    fleurette

    I've never read any book in the series about Kinsey Millhone and I'm not a big fan of short stories but I still liked the book. Maybe it's because all the stories (in the first part) were connected by the main character. I had time to get to know her. And the cases she is working on are very interesting and diverse. The book is divided into two distinct, though not equal, parts preceded by the author's introductions. The first, larger one contains stories about Kinsey Millhone. The second is much I've never read any book in the series about Kinsey Millhone and I'm not a big fan of short stories but I still liked the book. Maybe it's because all the stories (in the first part) were connected by the main character. I had time to get to know her. And the cases she is working on are very interesting and diverse. The book is divided into two distinct, though not equal, parts preceded by the author's introductions. The first, larger one contains stories about Kinsey Millhone. The second is much more personal, the main heroine is Kit - the author's alter ego - and focuses on her relationship with her alcoholic mother. These two parts are very different, although both are undoubtedly good. The first part is definitely more to my taste. The short stories about Kinsey Millhone definitely encouraged me to reach for one of the novels in this series. The stories are short, but you don't have the feeling that they are written in a hurry. The story is always well thought out. Each story is clearly different from the others and you don't feel like reading the same story over and over again. I rarely read short stories but maybe I should give it a try, or at least try some more crime stories, because these are really good, even for a person who has never met Kinsey Millhone before. The second part is completely different. And I admit I haven't read all the stories in this part. I read half of them and couldn't read more. Not because they are bad, but because I wasn't in the mood for something like this. These stories are incredibly personal and emotional. The author projects her own experiences of growing up at home of two alcoholics, focusing primarily on her relationship with her mother. For people who like such stories they will probably be good, but I do not like such emotional pieces of real life. Knowing that they reflect the experiences of the author herself, I had the feeling of a kind of inappropriateness. As if I was watching her in a moment of weakness and was fascinated by her suffering and misery. These are very personal pieces. I am not sure why the author decided to share them with the readers. And I'm not even sure why she decided to combine them with stories about Kinsey Millhone. These two parts are completely different, have a different atmosphere, a different purpose. And to tell the truth, they don't really match. You read the first part for the pure entertainment of a criminal case. It has no depth or hidden meanings. In the second part, quite the opposite. In my opinion, the problem is that people who reach for this book for stories about Kinsey Millhone will be surprised by stories about Kit and not necessarily positively. I haven't read the reviews of other readers, so I don't know if that's why this book has fairly low ratings, but maybe that's the reason. Either way, I'm glad I read this book because of stories about Kinsey Millhone. I will seriously consider reading one of the books in the series about her.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mish Middelmann

    Sue Grafton has far more depth than I acknowledged while enjoying her Kinsey Millhone series of crime mysteries. In this anthology she brings a crisp quickness to her Kinsey Millhone short stories, full of delectable twists and turns. She also reminded me that she takes this genre far from what was a male-dominated tradition, and gives her female protagonist depth and strength without having her impersonate male private eyes or deny her womanhood. Where it all went way deeper for me was in the (s Sue Grafton has far more depth than I acknowledged while enjoying her Kinsey Millhone series of crime mysteries. In this anthology she brings a crisp quickness to her Kinsey Millhone short stories, full of delectable twists and turns. She also reminded me that she takes this genre far from what was a male-dominated tradition, and gives her female protagonist depth and strength without having her impersonate male private eyes or deny her womanhood. Where it all went way deeper for me was in the (shorter) second part of this book: a series of stories chronicling the slow death of her alcoholic mother, and what it was like to be a child in a family torn apart by the pain. Her mother drank and smoked herself to death over more than ten years while Grafton was growing up - "I was five ... that's when the safety of my childhood began to unravel." The stories are sparse and searing and told with the deepest of love - a love that accepts the most awful truths about life and love and families. I am deeply touched, and I see more clearly that the stories a writer tells for "entertainment" are often rooted in the deepest human pain and wisdom.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    Having read all the way through ”V” in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series, I discovered that this collection of short stories existed and since all of the stories take place prior to “W” (and since I tend to be a completest) I decided to go ahead and read this volume as well. The book is divided into two parts. The first part contains nine stories of Kinsey’s investigative adventures and I found them to be quite focused and pretty enjoyable reads. They aren’t as fun as the novels because there Having read all the way through ”V” in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series, I discovered that this collection of short stories existed and since all of the stories take place prior to “W” (and since I tend to be a completest) I decided to go ahead and read this volume as well. The book is divided into two parts. The first part contains nine stories of Kinsey’s investigative adventures and I found them to be quite focused and pretty enjoyable reads. They aren’t as fun as the novels because there is nothing of the larger group of co-characters that make the novels so entertaining; nothing from octogenarian Henry, or Rosie or Kinsey’s estranged family. They are short straightforward whodunits almost in the style of a Hercule Poirot short story. None of them are necessary to read for the enjoyment of the larger series of novels, as they stand alone completely. They do vary in tone, however, from serious to near-whimsical crimes/criminals but I thought all of them were pretty fun reads. Not so with the second half of the book. Here we find 11 “stories” from a character named Kit Blue who is reportedly a younger version of Sue Grafton herself. I use the term “stories” loosely because they are more like autobiographical observations on life with alcoholic parents and dealing with her mother’s death. There are no plots per se, more like essays on the over-arching darkness. Taken as a group, they do provide insights on Sue Grafton, as well as why the character of Kinsey Millhone is the way she is. And they are certainly well-written pieces. But enjoyable reading…not so much. So I am granting four stars for part 1 and two stars for part 2 (being generous) rounding out to three stars for the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Faye

    Read: April 2019 Part One: Kinsey Between the sheets - 4/5 stars Long gone - 4/5 stars The Parker shotgun - 3.5/5 stars Non sung smoke - 4/5 stars Falling off the roof - 4/5 stars A poison that leaves no trace- 3/5 stars Full circle - 4/5 stars A little missionary work - 3.5/5 stars The lying game - 2/5 stars An Eye for an I: Justice, Morality, the Nature of the Hard-boiled Private Investigator, and all that Existential Stuff - 4/5 stars Part Two: and Me It's difficult to individually rate the foll Read: April 2019 Part One: Kinsey Between the sheets - 4/5 stars Long gone - 4/5 stars The Parker shotgun - 3.5/5 stars Non sung smoke - 4/5 stars Falling off the roof - 4/5 stars A poison that leaves no trace- 3/5 stars Full circle - 4/5 stars A little missionary work - 3.5/5 stars The lying game - 2/5 stars An Eye for an I: Justice, Morality, the Nature of the Hard-boiled Private Investigator, and all that Existential Stuff - 4/5 stars Part Two: and Me It's difficult to individually rate the following stories. They are a series of semi-autobiographical essays that deal with Grafton's attempt to understand her alcoholic parents - in particular her mother. The essays cover the period of time from sometime in Grafton's late childhood all the way to her late twenties. They are clearly heartfelt but difficult to judge critically. I preferred the first half of the book with Kinsey's short stories! A woman capable of anything That’s not an easy way to go Lost people Clue Night visit, corridor a April 24, 1960 The closet Maple hill - A portable life The quarrel Jessie Death review A letter from my father

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    Tough call, this one. Sue Grafton is the best author I have never read. Let me clarify that by saying that I listened to "A is for Alibi" as an audio book and identified the character Kinsey Millhone with the reader of the series, Judy Kaye who does a great job. So, I have "read" every book in the series courtesy of Judy. This book consists of 9 short Kinsey Millhone stories which were great - well plotted, clever, believable, and well written. The second half deals with "Kit" who is reflective of Tough call, this one. Sue Grafton is the best author I have never read. Let me clarify that by saying that I listened to "A is for Alibi" as an audio book and identified the character Kinsey Millhone with the reader of the series, Judy Kaye who does a great job. So, I have "read" every book in the series courtesy of Judy. This book consists of 9 short Kinsey Millhone stories which were great - well plotted, clever, believable, and well written. The second half deals with "Kit" who is reflective of Sue's life in 13 stories that deal with her alcoholic mother and father, the dysfunctional family, the mother's illnesses, surgeries, etc. I am not a big fan of misery and wallowing in past issues of a rotten family life - probably why I tend to shy away from Oprah's book club picks. Despite the topic, the writing is excellent. So, how about a split? 5 stars for the Kinsey stories, 3 for the Kit stories, gives us a 4 rating. It was a pleasant way to pass the 700 miles I put on for business this week.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zoey

    This book has 2 parts to it. The first half "Kinsey & the second half "Me" Being a big Kinsey fan (getting ready to start No.19 in the series)it was almost guaranteed I was going to like the first half which consists of 9 short stories starring everyone's favourite female PI from the 80s. They were all typical Kinsey stories, although I'm not sure she really suits short stories as some of them just felt a bit rushed & the mystery too easily & quickly solved. 3.5★ The second half unfortunately not s This book has 2 parts to it. The first half "Kinsey & the second half "Me" Being a big Kinsey fan (getting ready to start No.19 in the series)it was almost guaranteed I was going to like the first half which consists of 9 short stories starring everyone's favourite female PI from the 80s. They were all typical Kinsey stories, although I'm not sure she really suits short stories as some of them just felt a bit rushed & the mystery too easily & quickly solved. 3.5★ The second half unfortunately not so enjoyable. These 13 short stories revolve around the character Kit Blue from childhood through to adulthood, marriage & children with her alcoholic Mother. These stories were very deep, dark & depressing & really not my thing, although made slightly more interesting (& definitely more sad) by the fact that these stories are apparently partly auto-biographically for the author. 2.5★

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    This is an interesting book with two distinct sections. The first is a series of short stories Grafton wrote many years ago that feature Kinsey Millhone, the well-known detective from the alphabet series. The second part is a fictional autobiography of Grafton herself, told in the guise of a character she names Kit Blue. The nine short stories which make up the first part were published over a five year period that began in 1985. They appeared in Redbook, various anthology collections and one, a This is an interesting book with two distinct sections. The first is a series of short stories Grafton wrote many years ago that feature Kinsey Millhone, the well-known detective from the alphabet series. The second part is a fictional autobiography of Grafton herself, told in the guise of a character she names Kit Blue. The nine short stories which make up the first part were published over a five year period that began in 1985. They appeared in Redbook, various anthology collections and one, a story in which she blatantly flogs a Squall Parka, is from the 2003 Land’s End fortieth anniversary catalogue. Each of the stories presents a mystery which Kinsey investigates and solves, in the end revealing the clues that led to her conclusion and the name of the culprit. But having read Grafton’s alphabet series for years, I found these stories far from the quality of her well executed novels. Given they were written earlier in her writing career, that is not surprising. I understand she included them to provide readers with a sense of her public and private self, with Kinsey being an invented version of herself and Kit Blue, the self she was fifty years previously. But literary intention aside, these early stories just did not work for me. The best part of the book is what follows them. It begins by outlining the evolution of the private investigator as a character in crime fiction, presenting an excellent primer for all readers of the genre. This is followed by the thirteen autobiographical stories about Kit Blue and her painful years growing up in a family with a younger sister and a pair of alcoholic parents. They are the stories of Grafton’s past life and the challenges she faced during her childhood, as a young adult and then as a married woman with children. They are brutally honest, poignant and at times painful to read, creating a very revealing self portrait of this well-known author. Grafton’s father, C.W. Grafton was a part time crime writer, a successful lawyer and a functioning alcoholic who downed two jiggers of whiskey each morning before brushing his teeth and heading off to work. Even after consuming a fifth of Old Crow a day, he was able to practice law, argue cases in court and write briefs and legal opinions. Her mother Vanessa had a different routine, downing her two jiggers in the pantry but then collapsing on the couch and falling asleep. Grafton deeply resented the fact that her mother could not handle alcohol the way her father did, essentially leaving her to raise herself with little supervision or guidance. Discipline, if and when it occurred was arbitrary and capricious. Grafton spent her summers immersed in mystery novels. Left to read as much as she wanted, she worked her way through Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie and Mickey Spillane. By the time she was eighteen she was obsessed with becoming a writer. As her mother’s health deteriorated, Grafton was forced to become her care giver. Vivian was frequently admitted to hospital for malnutrition, broken bones pneumonia and finally to remove the cancer in her esophagus, the result of years of smoking and drinking. She was often depressed, had attempted suicide twice and after her cancer surgery, attempted suicide once more. This time successfully. Her daughter Sue was twenty at the time. After her mother’s death, Grafton used fiction as a way to work through and understand her past life, a way she says of “processing her emotional garbage”. In the Kit Blue stories, Grafton explores emotional wounds that have long sense healed. She has shared them in an effort to let others who have difficult childhoods see they too can work through painful times and be successful. As she says, we do not get to choose our parents or have a say in what happens in our early years, but we do have the power to turn misfortune to our advantage and avoid letting it define our lives. For years Grafton felt only rage against her mother for neglecting her and it was years before she could think any positive thoughts about her or recognize her death as a loss. She never felt the same way about her father who escaped her anger because he functioned so well as an alcoholic. But it is clear both were incompetent and ineffective parents. As Grafton lived through those times, it was her writing that helped her cope. It was only after her father’s death that she was able to “shake off the wreckage of her childhood”. Or perhaps she admits, she just grew up and accepted who she was, someone who was not always the person she wanted to be. She acknowledges having a temper, being impatient with her children as a young mother and being unable to be the person her two ex-husbands wanted her to be. When she finally reached the point in life when she forgave her parents, she admitted that she too needed forgiveness from her family for her failings. She now feels at peace with the person she has become. For those who have not read Grafton’s novels, this is not the best place to start. It would be better to sample her fiction and come back to this book at a later time. It would make the book so much more meaningful. Apart from the first section, this was a very satisfying read although I would have preferred Grafton just wrote an autobiography and appended the Kit Blue stories to it. I would also have liked to hear more about her writing process and her experiences as an author, but perhaps that is for another time and another book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eric Cohen

    The "Me" section of this book was by far the better part. Sadly, the Kinsey stories were pretty lackluster. Or maybe, they just paled by comparison to the more nuanced Kinsey we have all come to know and love in the novels. In the very personal "Me" stories, Grafton deftly draws us into a world of sadness, pain and regret but doesn't abandon us, or her characters there. As these linked remembrances come to an end, she allows Kit, the protagonist in all these stories (and a stand-in for the author The "Me" section of this book was by far the better part. Sadly, the Kinsey stories were pretty lackluster. Or maybe, they just paled by comparison to the more nuanced Kinsey we have all come to know and love in the novels. In the very personal "Me" stories, Grafton deftly draws us into a world of sadness, pain and regret but doesn't abandon us, or her characters there. As these linked remembrances come to an end, she allows Kit, the protagonist in all these stories (and a stand-in for the author), to experience the redeeming graces of growth, self-knowledge and love. Grafton's ability to capture the essence of a moment through her description of time and place is at it's most refined here. It was a pleasure to watch her turn her skill as a writer loose in a different format. One question I had was whether these stories would be able to stand on their own if published separately. In this volume they procede more or less sequentially, and feel almost like a novella. Not that it matters, but I did find myself wondering how I would have reacted if I had only been give one of them at random to read. I suspect that a reader would not appreciate these stories nearly as much if they were presented as stand-alone entities. I gave the book three stars only because I felt the first part was so weak. Had it all been of the same quality as the second part, my rating would have been higher.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I, too, am a Kinsey fan although some of her 'darker' novels are not my favorites. For about two years, I lived in the Santa Barbara area the stories are set in. As a student, I traveled all over the places Ms. Grafton describes in her thinly disguised Santa Teresa. I enjoyed the short stories and considered them as exercises for her, like scales and rehearsals by a musician. I also identified with the last section "and me" as my childhood was very similar...learning to be self sufficient and alone I, too, am a Kinsey fan although some of her 'darker' novels are not my favorites. For about two years, I lived in the Santa Barbara area the stories are set in. As a student, I traveled all over the places Ms. Grafton describes in her thinly disguised Santa Teresa. I enjoyed the short stories and considered them as exercises for her, like scales and rehearsals by a musician. I also identified with the last section "and me" as my childhood was very similar...learning to be self sufficient and alone at an early age; having an alcoholic father and a mother working so hard to keep a roof over our heads she was mostly absent or asleep. This was, I thought the best writing I have read from Ms. Grafton.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shelleen Toland

    This is a book of a collection of stories of Kinsey's origins and how she came to be. Then it was about Grafton's life. Grafton had a pretty much messed up childhood with alcoholics for parents. The book was ok. This is a book of a collection of stories of Kinsey's origins and how she came to be. Then it was about Grafton's life. Grafton had a pretty much messed up childhood with alcoholics for parents. The book was ok.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Mitchell

    Ordinarily I don't care for short stories but I've been a fan of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone since A is for Alias so there was no way I would miss this book. Then I discovered that it is so much more than a collection of stories; it includes a lot of information about Grafton's life that she never talks about and some stories about a character named Kit Blue. Blue's stories are from the decade after Grafton's mother died. They deal with the alcoholism of both of her parents in real life as wel Ordinarily I don't care for short stories but I've been a fan of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone since A is for Alias so there was no way I would miss this book. Then I discovered that it is so much more than a collection of stories; it includes a lot of information about Grafton's life that she never talks about and some stories about a character named Kit Blue. Blue's stories are from the decade after Grafton's mother died. They deal with the alcoholism of both of her parents in real life as well as her mother's death. It's an emotional journey of self discovery. The Kinsey stories are short versions of her books written for various publications. There is even one written for Land's End which features one of their parkas. I got a big kick out of these little gems, some with surprising twists at the end and all excellent examples of how to write a short story. Her quick portraits of characters are spot-on and most of the tales are very funny. I just began to write about some examples but realized they were spoilers so I can't very well tell you much because I'll drift into spoiler land. Well trust me, you'll love them. The Kit Blue stories are heart-wrenching. They showed me the depth of emotion Grafton feels but also a different side to her writing skills. I never cry when reading a book but I came pretty close in this section. Kit and her older sister became the parents because of their parents' alcoholism, and they had to learn responsibility for others and how to take care of a home and family way too early. Then when their father remarried, learning to deal with a difficult stepmother was another challenge. It told me much about Grafton and the origin of her series characters. I had gone to the library to get another book but just had to grab this one from the display in the fiction department. So glad I did. Kinsey and Me was a fast read but one that greatly affected me. Highly recommended Source: library

  18. 4 out of 5

    Judie

    KINSEY AND ME is a three-in-one. The main part of the book, Kinsey, presents nine short stories featuring Kinsey Millhone, a thirty something Private Investigator. Each of these stories is well-crafted and presents a full, satisfying condensed version of the popular Kinsey Millhone alphabet novels. The last part, and me, is autobiographical and tells about her relationships with her parents, primarily her mother. Both of her parents were alcoholics and that had a tremendous influence on her growi KINSEY AND ME is a three-in-one. The main part of the book, Kinsey, presents nine short stories featuring Kinsey Millhone, a thirty something Private Investigator. Each of these stories is well-crafted and presents a full, satisfying condensed version of the popular Kinsey Millhone alphabet novels. The last part, and me, is autobiographical and tells about her relationships with her parents, primarily her mother. Both of her parents were alcoholics and that had a tremendous influence on her growing up years and first, early marriage. The beginning discuss her writing: e.g., How Kinsey was created. She tells us that Kinsey ages one year for every two and a half books. She also explains the difference between crime, mystery, and detective books. Crime novels focus on the elements of the crime. The reader watches all of it. There is no mystery. The mystery presents the story and makes the reader figure out the solution based on the clues. The detective story has the reader follow what the detective learns. It is not always logical but there won’t be a last minute surprise culprit. The middle (entr’acte) explains the development of the detective story from the “hard-boiled private eyes” of the thirties to his personality after World War II to it’s present form. The PI is no longer a tough white man. They are a diverse group including many races, genders, and sexual orientations. She mentions the way homicide has infected all of America. “While the cunning of fictional homicide continues to fascinate, its real-life counterpart has been reduced to senseless butchery. Murder is the beast howling in the basement, rustling unleashed in the faraway reaches of our souls.” The genre is still popular because it offers order and hope and shows how one person can make a difference. Reading KINSEY AND ME was a treat.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I'll never turn down the opportunity to read a Sue Grafton book. There's something wonderfully wry and believable in her spotlight character (and, she admits in this book, alter ego) Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey's deadpan delivery, dry wit and no-BS approach to life and mysteries are always a treat. The Kinsey stories and Grafton's preface are totally delightful--little miniatures of the books, with wonderful twists and fun characters and dialogue. And Grafton tells us that , yes, just as we've alway I'll never turn down the opportunity to read a Sue Grafton book. There's something wonderfully wry and believable in her spotlight character (and, she admits in this book, alter ego) Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey's deadpan delivery, dry wit and no-BS approach to life and mysteries are always a treat. The Kinsey stories and Grafton's preface are totally delightful--little miniatures of the books, with wonderful twists and fun characters and dialogue. And Grafton tells us that , yes, just as we've always suspected, Kinsey is what she might have become, had her life been different. The "stories" in the second half are autobiographical. And they're not really tales, but reflections on how Sue Grafton evolved as a writer and a human being. They were clearly written by a different person than the one with the confident voice and head for plots. The writer has some talent, but is a novice--and the prose suffers, as art, although the pieces were undoubtedly cathartic for Grafton.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    After having read all of Sue's alphabet books within the last several months, Kinsey and Me: Stories, I saved for last. It is beyond my words to say how the second half of that book moved me, for more reasons than one. Though I never had the honor of actually knowing her, I sadly feel as though I've lost a friend. Rest in peace, Sue Grafton.❤ After having read all of Sue's alphabet books within the last several months, Kinsey and Me: Stories, I saved for last. It is beyond my words to say how the second half of that book moved me, for more reasons than one. Though I never had the honor of actually knowing her, I sadly feel as though I've lost a friend. Rest in peace, Sue Grafton.❤

  21. 5 out of 5

    Una Tiers

    This was disappointing at best since the reader didn't have a chance to try to solve the puzzle. This was disappointing at best since the reader didn't have a chance to try to solve the puzzle.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    For readers who have followed the Sue Grafton Alphabet Mystery series, Kinsey Millhone is a familiar character. Almost like someone from our own lives--albeit our lives in the eighties, the decade that has become the signature era for the character. A time before technology had advanced and when the Internet was still in the distant future. Kinsey's style was born from pages of gritty detectives searching for clues the old-fashioned way. "Kinsey and Me: Stories" is a closer look into the characte For readers who have followed the Sue Grafton Alphabet Mystery series, Kinsey Millhone is a familiar character. Almost like someone from our own lives--albeit our lives in the eighties, the decade that has become the signature era for the character. A time before technology had advanced and when the Internet was still in the distant future. Kinsey's style was born from pages of gritty detectives searching for clues the old-fashioned way. "Kinsey and Me: Stories" is a closer look into the character and the author. In the first section, we enjoy several short stories featuring Kinsey with her trademark tough girl persona and her ability to "lie" and follow the clues with diligence. In the second half, Grafton takes us into her own life in the ten years following her mother's death. She writes: "At the remove of some fifty years, I still find myself reluctant to lift the veil on a period of my life that was chaotic and confused. Looking back, I can see that I was rudderless and floundering, that in attempting to save myself, I hurt others...." In the introduction to the final section, she says that "Kinsey Millhone is the person I might have been had I not married young and had children. She is more than that. She is a stripped-down version of my 'self'--my shadow, my projection--a celebration of my own freedom, independence, and courage." With Kinsey Millhone as her alter ego, Grafton describes Kit Blue, featured in the final stories, as a younger version of herself. In Kit Blue, we see the pain of the lost child whose parents dived into their bottles and abdicated their roles as parents. We also see how she comes to terms with her life and what remains. In Kit's voice, we read this description: "My parents were lost people, refugees, and not from any country that I've seen, not the victims of the known wars on this earth, but refugees in subtle battles fought somewhere inside and won and lost and borders crossed and flags laid down. My parents were the displaced...not of this world but from their lives, separated from themselves somehow when all those inner wars came to an end." I believe that most writers create their best versions of life in their fiction from the pain, angst, and interior journeys they have slogged through. And Grafton's latest creation takes us to the heart of that interior world and lets us see her very soul. Five stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gigi Ann

    I've read (I think) all of Sue's alphabet series, after my daughter told me about them about 2o years ago. I had to do a lot of catch-up reading of them until I finally got them all read. When I noticed this book by Ms. Grafton to mark this anniversary year, I knew I had to have it to read. I was not disappointed. I especially enjoyed the preface part of the book, explaining things about writing mysteries which I hadn't thought about. One point she made is something I've always agreed with: "The I've read (I think) all of Sue's alphabet series, after my daughter told me about them about 2o years ago. I had to do a lot of catch-up reading of them until I finally got them all read. When I noticed this book by Ms. Grafton to mark this anniversary year, I knew I had to have it to read. I was not disappointed. I especially enjoyed the preface part of the book, explaining things about writing mysteries which I hadn't thought about. One point she made is something I've always agreed with: "The culprit has to be a visible entity in the body of the tale. In other words, the killer can't be someone who pops out of nowhere in the last paragraph." I hate reading a mystery and that happens, makes me so mad! Another point she wrote about that I thoroughly agree with is: "The solution to the puzzle and the explanation for the crime have to be natural and logical. No ghosts, no Ouija boards, and no Divine Intervention." A few books I read recently were ruined for me just because of those very things. I hate paranormal books! Now to the 'Kinsey' part of the book, I loved it, I loved these short mystery stories about Kinsey. They told the story without a lot of unnecessary filler. These were nine quick little reads, that I didn't want to end. So I only read two or three a day, so the book would last longer. Now on to the 'Me' part..... I'm not sure if this was an autobiography, about her life when she was young or not. It was written 10 years after her mothers death, about Kit Blue, and is a bit dark. If it is autobiographic, she had a very sad beginning in her young life. I can't imagine having to live a young dark life like she describes. However, I'm sure many people have and survived, just as she did. All in all I have to say I liked this book, and awarded it 4****

  24. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I love Sue Grafton. Everyone knows her "alphabet" series (A is for Alibi, etc) and I think she truly started writing want she wanted to around letter P. But this book? These are all short stories, with the first half of the book about her main character in the alphabet series, Kinsey Millhone. I love this character. I've always wanted to be her just a little bit. She's in her 30s, living in California alone, a nice little apartment, runs to the beach every day, and she's a freelance private dete I love Sue Grafton. Everyone knows her "alphabet" series (A is for Alibi, etc) and I think she truly started writing want she wanted to around letter P. But this book? These are all short stories, with the first half of the book about her main character in the alphabet series, Kinsey Millhone. I love this character. I've always wanted to be her just a little bit. She's in her 30s, living in California alone, a nice little apartment, runs to the beach every day, and she's a freelance private detective. Pretty awesome, huh? But the second half of the book was really all about Sue Grafton. I had a hard time reading some of them because they are about her alcoholic parents and how her mother drank herself to death. Sue became her mother's parent when she was still in middle school. Tough stuff, but still good writing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    One of my favorite mystery series will never be finished due to the untimely death of author Sue Grafton. How sad that her alphabet series ended with letter 'Y'. This book is a collection of short stories half of which star her PI Kinsey Milhone. They are interesting and full of the quirky humor Kinsey often showed during her investigations. The last half of the book I believe is semi-autobiographical. These very short vignettes star Kit Blue who speaks of her love of mystery novels from a very One of my favorite mystery series will never be finished due to the untimely death of author Sue Grafton. How sad that her alphabet series ended with letter 'Y'. This book is a collection of short stories half of which star her PI Kinsey Milhone. They are interesting and full of the quirky humor Kinsey often showed during her investigations. The last half of the book I believe is semi-autobiographical. These very short vignettes star Kit Blue who speaks of her love of mystery novels from a very young age, growing up with alcoholic parents, the early death of her mother and many other family issues. I'm not sure why, but I felt very uncomfortable reading Kit's stories almost like I was learning way too much about a person I admire greatly. Anyway, if you are a Grafton fan you will more than likely enjoy this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Part 1 consists of short stories about Sue Grafton's feisty detective Kinsey Milhone, relating small vignettes of detective work. Part 2 consists of semi-autobiographical stories about Kit, a young woman recalling incidents from her life with dysfunctional, but loving, alcoholic parents. Grafton's voice shines here and we feel the pain of her youth and young womanhood. Part 1 consists of short stories about Sue Grafton's feisty detective Kinsey Milhone, relating small vignettes of detective work. Part 2 consists of semi-autobiographical stories about Kit, a young woman recalling incidents from her life with dysfunctional, but loving, alcoholic parents. Grafton's voice shines here and we feel the pain of her youth and young womanhood.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vonia

    I grew up on Sue Grafton's alphabet series. I started reading them around the age of eleven, along with Mary Higgins Clark books. I have to admit that I have since outgrown the mystery genre, deeming them "beach reads". I do not mean to look down on them exactly, but I guess I feel that other literature is more varied and has more possibilities to offer me. Different authors are able to transport me to more diverse places; they introduce me to a wider selection of ideas and philosophies, mindset I grew up on Sue Grafton's alphabet series. I started reading them around the age of eleven, along with Mary Higgins Clark books. I have to admit that I have since outgrown the mystery genre, deeming them "beach reads". I do not mean to look down on them exactly, but I guess I feel that other literature is more varied and has more possibilities to offer me. Different authors are able to transport me to more diverse places; they introduce me to a wider selection of ideas and philosophies, mindsets and subcultures. I do feel that mysteries and thrillers, especially those in a long running series, have their niche with characters you love and familiar territory, but the drawback is the limited scope. That being said, Kinsey Milhone will always have a special place in my heart. I found myself involuntary smiling and laughing as I read, mostly from nostalgia. Characters and places in the series that I had once been so familiar with came back easily. Her tendency to be a loner, her dislike for children, her precious VWs, her "little black dress", her young at heart landlord Henry that she has always had a thing for, Detective Dolan, her tendency to by step the law when she feels it necessary, the oft used (technically illegally) California Fidelity insurance identification card (it comes in handy in more situations than one might imagine), the early morning runs she loves, her partiality to sweets and other unhealthy foods. The introduction she gives to readers in each of the letter books is pretty much the same as in each of the Kinsey Milhone short stories. Something along the lines of her name, that she is a private investigator, license, bonded, insured; white, female, unmarried, twice divorced, thirty something (she ages years every 2.5 books). I am so familiar with the fictional town if Santa Teresa that she lives with that I swear it has to be real. Growing up in California myself, I adored any references to Los Angeles and details such as one of the characters being a student at the University of California, Santa Teresa (I attended one of the actual University of Californias). I never before compared Sue Grafton's books to Donald Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown series (the predecessor to the alphabet series in my personal life), but I am now. Truth be told, I wish I were not. For younger readers, the short story, easy turnaround, mystery-solution format works. Not so much for readers such as myself, need and greedy for story development, character depth, foreshadowing, twists and turns, red herrings, false alarms, and complex solutions for our mysteries. I felt that the solution came too soon in all but the last few stories. As soon as I had formed a connection with the characters, Kinsey solves the mystery and I never get to hear from them again. Yes, I get to continue knowing Kinsey, but the others are done with. This is one of the reasons that makes short stories so difficult to write and it seems that Grafton takes a few years to develop and talent in the genre. Even with her last few short stories, she is not showing the best of her writing abilities by writing short stories. Included in "Kinsey and Me" are 9 Kinsey Milhone stories, from around 20-30 pages each (in the edition I read). A little comment on each. "Between the Sheets" was fun in that it showed Kinsey's soft spot for children when she feels like it, even though, like me, she does not really want any. "Long Gone" is a testament to stupid criminals; naive at the very least. "The Parker Shotgun" educated me a little on guns as collector's items. "Unsung Smoke" was poised to be my favorite story until the forced "mystery solved!" moment; the irony in the ending is one of my favorite things in Grafton's writing. "Falling Off The Roof" was a least favorite because it had a very strange ending; it is left vague, the mystery solved but it ends with inequity. "Poison That Leaves No Trace" tried its best with a twist, but, again, it was very sudden. Family drama, mother and daughter competitiveness gone wrong. "Full Circle" is my favorite story out of the nine. It is, on the surface, about a car accident Kinsey witnesses that turns out to actually be a murder. She solves the mystery on instinct and intuition, but what I liked about it did not involve the solution to the mystery at all, but how the story ended. À la O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi", it was a twist ending with comic irony. The penultimate story, "A Little Missionary Work", involves a hostage situation with a famous Hollywood couple that stars in the fictional "I had fun reading about Kinsey out of her element, trying to navigate herself through the rich and famous one moment, the next moment visiting her friend Harry Hovey- an inmate incarcerated in the Santa Teresa prison- in order to borrow some funds (much more her element). This one also had an unexpected twist ending and, as noted before, one of the few stories that felt right as a short story. There is enough suspense to enthrall readers, as well as sufficient character development. The last story, "The Lying Game" is by far the shortest at only five pages, published twelve years after the others. It was originally published in a Land's End catalogue (there is a tidbit where Kinsey describes her warm Land's End outerwear with finances as she spies on two brothers in the wilderness; later, the brothers compliment Kinsey on her choice) It is no coincidence that my favorites out of the nine are all towards the end. They are published in the order they were chronologically written by Grafton, from 1986 to 2003 (1986-1991, then 2003). Somewhat disappointingly, none of the Kinsey Milhone stories are new, although they may be new to most readers. They were all previously published, as indicated and detailed in "Acknowledgements". (I always find it paradoxical that authors need to cite themselves in order to avoid plagiarism. See: & , though my opinion aligns more with this: .) Original material in "Kinsey and Me" includes the preface, introductions to Part I (Kinsey Milhone stories) and Part II (Kit Blue stories), and 12 out of 13 Kit Blue stories. Also included is the previously published in 1995 "An Eye for an I: Justice, Morality, the Nature of the Hard-Boiled Private Investigator". These were actually my favorite parts of the book, but not because they were new material. They were my favorite because I gave me an inside, behind-the-scenes look at Sue Grafton's life as a writer. I first picked up this book because it was listed as an autobiography/memoir. Which it is, but only in part. As she says in the introduction to Part II, "If Kinsey Milhone is my alter ego, Kit Blue is simply a younger version of me. The following thirteen stories were written in the decade following my mother's death, my way of coming to terms with my grief for her. I realized early in the process of writing that I could take any moment I remembered and cut straight to the heart of our relationship. It was as if all moments, any moment, every moment, were the same. Every incident I had access to seemed connected at the core; that rage, that pain, all the scalding tears I wept, during her life and afterward. All of it is part of the riddle I think of now as love." This summarizes what she shares in both introductions and the preface; how her stories, her novels, and ultimately her characters saved her- Kinsey Milhone quite literally by giving her a career and the financial means to live, and Kit Blue by giving her the necessary outlet; free therapy. Whereas on the one hand I found it irritating to read "Kit Blue" where my mind was expecting "Sue Grafton" and stories being told in the third person, first person, second person, but never identifying the author as "Sue", as a psychology scholar I do understand that she would have been unable to write about her painful childhood in the direct first person. It would have been too real, too honest. She needed a layer of protection, a remove and enough denial to allow the stages of grieving to take its course; to process the feelings she had bottled inside for so long. Like self-assigned therapy, she experiments with different writing formats, a few in the second person, some in first person, others in third person; one about the contents of Kit/Sue's late mother Vanessa's closet (fittingly titled "The Closet"), one about their colored maid and how she felt about Vanessa, "Maple Hill" tells about the house they lived in as a family (the only one previously published), one that tells if her time working on hospitals, how in later years she finds comfort in hospitals ("Death Review"). Many, if not all of them, seem like responses to those writing prompts ("Write about an important date, but you can only focus on the one chosen twenty-four hour period", "Write about the contents of a closer, discussing the items, but branching from there".) Sue Grafton tells us about her father, how he was also a writer, how he introduced "the wonders of the genre" to get, inspiring the future writer in her, whereas from her mother she "learned all the lessons of the human heart". She explains how mystery and detective fiction, especially the hard-boiled private investigator, were the escape from reality that she needed, one of the few advantages of two severely alcoholic parents. She went from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie, from Raymond Chandler to Richard Prather to Dashiell Hammett.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ashley F

    Sue Grafton is one of my auto-buy authors. I discovered her years ago when I was graduating from Agatha Christie's Ms. Marple and the tv show Murder, She Wrote. Kinsey Millhone became part of my yearly reading habits as I inhaled each book as quickly as I could. I knew early on Grafton did not release books in the fashion of Patterson, Roberts, or Steel and often a year or two would go by before the next one. I tended to read three-five a year as I tried to stretch them out until the next few we Sue Grafton is one of my auto-buy authors. I discovered her years ago when I was graduating from Agatha Christie's Ms. Marple and the tv show Murder, She Wrote. Kinsey Millhone became part of my yearly reading habits as I inhaled each book as quickly as I could. I knew early on Grafton did not release books in the fashion of Patterson, Roberts, or Steel and often a year or two would go by before the next one. I tended to read three-five a year as I tried to stretch them out until the next few were out. Now I've caught up through V is for Vengeance and am impatiently waiting for W. Kinsey and Me offered me a bit of a break from waiting for the next Kinsey Millhone. I put the book on hold the moment I could (#1!) and waited patiently for January 8th. Once it came I had to finish Exposed to You (review here) and it was a hard wait. The first half of the book contains a group of short stories/mysteries with Kinsey. They act as almost origin stories in the sense we meet no other characters. Henry, her landlord, is mentioned in passing and she runs into a friend from the insurance company at one point but as a whole, the stories deal with Kinsey only. Kinsey is back and better than ever in these stories as she deals with deaths ruled accidental, missing bodies, and missing people. She approaches each mystery with a unique wit and sarcastic humor which I love and look forward to constantly. Kinsey goes to parties wearing her all-purpose dress, leaving her much-needed gun locked in the glove compartment, while unknowingly helping criminals before bringing them to justice. The second half of the book serves as a memoir for Ms. Grafton as she dealt with her mother's alcoholism and subsequent death. The main character is named Kit Blue but it is evident she is mirrored after Ms. Grafton. Kit navigates hating and loving her mother until her death from acting as a parent when she is young to dealing with her father's re-marriage and selling of the childhood home. I did not enjoy Kit Blue's stories as much as Kinsey Millhone's. I like memoirs so that was not the issue. The issue was the complete difference in writing style. Kinsey's stories are light and fun while Kit Blue's were dark and depressing. Understandably there should have been a difference since each character dealt with very different things. I did not dislike Kit Blue or the reveals surrounding Sue Grafton's life but I preferred reading about Kinsey. 4/5 Stars

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marcie

    What a strange book – the first half being short stories starring Grafton’s recurring heroine, female P.I. Kinsey Millhone, from her long-running alphabet mystery series of novels (she’s on “W” now), and the second half being self-therapeutic random essays of Grafton’s painful childhood. Grafton, the author, is the link, and this book is the explanation of how Millhone’s persona and Grafton’s ability to write in Millhone’s voice developed. The deadpan, unemotional voice, the no-nonsense demeanor, What a strange book – the first half being short stories starring Grafton’s recurring heroine, female P.I. Kinsey Millhone, from her long-running alphabet mystery series of novels (she’s on “W” now), and the second half being self-therapeutic random essays of Grafton’s painful childhood. Grafton, the author, is the link, and this book is the explanation of how Millhone’s persona and Grafton’s ability to write in Millhone’s voice developed. The deadpan, unemotional voice, the no-nonsense demeanor, the unflinching ability to see the ugly aspects of human nature so clearly, on Millhone’s part – all definitely the result of a child of alcoholic parents forced to become their parent, on Grafton’s part. Did I really need this book added to my canon of knowledge about Millhone? She has been like a friend to me, this character, throughout 22 books – I love the snooping and the details of her findings! The devil is in the details! And, geez, the jams she gets into when it all blows up in her face! Frankly, I’m a little icked out, like I always am when reality and fantasy collide, such as in the pictures of pregnant or abused Disney princesses circulated on the Internet. If the two parts had been packaged separately, untarnished by the presence of the other, maybe I would feel less bothered? But, I’m sure certain fans will be finally satisfied, all their many questions answered, about how and why Grafton created such a heroic, fascinating, trailblazing, lasting character. I love Kinsey Millhone and feel she is me when reading her cases. I don’t need to know where she came from. Or maybe I always knew and didn’t need it spelled out. Two stars feels too harsh for anything with Kinsey Millhone in it, hence three.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ricki

    Hard to believe I have been reading, and loving, Sue Grafton's Alphabet series for over 20 years, and have not been disappointed in one yet! I am not a huge fan of short stories, so I was a little hesitant in this one. Shocker.... I loved the short stories in the first part of this book! You knew that Kinsey was always dealing with more clients than just the ones that made it into the big books. I think the difference comes from knowing the character so well at this point that the disappointment Hard to believe I have been reading, and loving, Sue Grafton's Alphabet series for over 20 years, and have not been disappointed in one yet! I am not a huge fan of short stories, so I was a little hesitant in this one. Shocker.... I loved the short stories in the first part of this book! You knew that Kinsey was always dealing with more clients than just the ones that made it into the big books. I think the difference comes from knowing the character so well at this point that the disappointment of a story that ends quickly wasn't an issue like it usually is for me. As to the second half of the book, I compliment Sue Grafton on opening her heart up to the tragedy that was her growing up years and for making something of herself even when the world might have thought it would never be possible. As we get near the end of the alphabet, I get scared that once Z is for Z_________ we won't ever get to see or her about Kinsey again. Maybe Sue will retire, but I hope not as I would miss her books!

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