Three women led the way in the Second Golden Age of the Mystery in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The huge boom in detective fiction was due to the courage of three women authors who moved the mystery novel from violence AGAINST women to violenceSOLVED by women. These leaders were Marcia Mueller, Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton.
Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone broke onto the mystery scene in 1982 with A is for Alibi and went on to achieve cult status in the 1980’s as she became the most read detective of either gender in that decade. The new young, hard-boiled but female detective Grafton and the others created was strong, intelligent and yet emotional about the effects of violence and crime. A new era in mysteries was beginning.
Sue Grafton died Dec. 28th at the age of 77 having written the entire alphabet series from A to Y…. Z is for Zero, which was to be her last novel in the series, will not be written after all. Grafton’s family says that she was adamant about not allowing her novels to be turned into television or film so Y is for Yesterday, which came out last August, will be the last Grafton we will be able to enjoy.
Kinsey Millhone and Sue Grafton had a sort of alter-ego connection, according to Grafton. But she noted in an interview that there was one big difference – She realized early in writing the series that if she was going to write the entire alphabet, Kinsey could not age in real time and still be a young, strong detective.
“When I started, she was 32 and I was 42,” Grafton said to the Seattle Times last August. “And now she is 39 and I am 77, which I just do not think is fair.”