Sue Grafton

Age 77


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sue Grafton, author of the best-selling "alphabet series" of mystery novels, has died in Santa Barbara. She was 77.

Grafton was surrounded by family, including husband Steven Humphrey, when she died Thursday after a two-year battle with cancer, her daughter, Jamie Clark, posted on the author's website.

"Although we knew this was coming, it was unexpected and fast. She had been fine up until just a few days ago, and then things moved quickly," the posting said.

Grafton began her "alphabet series" in 1982 with "A is for Alibi." Her most recent book, "Y is for Yesterday," was published in August.

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"Many of you also know that she was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows, and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name," her daughter wrote. "Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y."

Humphrey said Grafton had been struggling to find an idea for "Z'' while undergoing treatment and losing weight.

"Nothing's been written," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "There is no Z."

He added with a laugh, "Nobody in this family will ever use the letter Z again."

The fictional heroine of the series, Southern California private detective Kinsey Millhone, was Grafton's alter ego, she told The Seattle Times earlier this year.

"I'm an introvert, so doing half of what Kinsey is beyond my poor capabilities," Grafton said. "But it's fun to get to live her life without penalty."

Her husband agreed that Grafton was Kinsey.

"Yes, as Sue said, 'We're one spirit in two bodies, and she got the good one,'" Humphrey said.

While Grafton aged, her heroine didn't quite as much.

"So when I started, she was 32, and I was 42. Now, she is 39, and I am 77. So there's a little bit of injustice there, but she is single," she told NPR in an interview earlier this year. "She's been married twice. She has no kids, no pets, no house plants."

She said she was looking forward to reaching the end of the alphabet with "Z is for Zero."

Grafton began writing at 18, and wrote her first novel at 22. "A is for Alibi" was the eighth novel she wrote, and the third she had published.

On her blog, she said her ideas come from everywhere.

"I read newspapers, textbooks on crime. I talk to private investigators, police officers, jail administrators, doctors, lawyers, career criminals. Ideas are everywhere," she said.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Grafton stayed tied to her roots, dividing her time between a home there and her home in California. In addition to her husband and daughter Jamie Clark, she is survived by another daughter, Leslie Twine, and her son, Jay Schmidt.

Grafton's remains will be cremated and the family will hold a private memorial Sunday. Memorials also will be held in Louisville and New York City.

By JOHN ANTCZAK, Associated Press

Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Guest Book

Not sure what to say?

Sad and sorrowful at Mrs. Grafton's passing. Also wanted REALLY REALLY ALOT to have finished the alphabet with "Z". I love happy endings. I wanted Kinsey to either marry Robert Dietz or Cheney Phillips and live happily ever after. Alas.....cancer is no happen ending.

Always an enjoyable read - she and her books will be missed. Great sympathy to her family.

Sue was my favorite author. I just loved going back to and revisiting the eighties with Kinsey. I first got to know Kinsey in the eighties when I was about the same age as Kinsey. I will miss you both and will reread Sue's alphabet over and over again.

I have never found an author I enjoyed more. I could hardly wait until her next book came out and just now finished her "Y" is for Yesterday. I feel like I have truly lost a friend and will miss her. I hadn't heard of her death until just recently. God Bless her and her family. She put a lot of enjoyment in my life.

You could always be sure of an enjoyable read ,she will be missed. My sympathy for relatives..

My how you are missed ...I have read and reread all of your books and envisioned how Kinsey looked, how she walked and how her voice sounded and intuitively knew she was part of your personality and there is no need to see Kinsey in the movies because you, Sue Grafton, made Kinsey Millhone real to your will always be that person who made us want to imagine that we could be Kinsey too and write Z' for ourselves...

I am sad. My wife passed away last October and I just found out from a friend. She saw I was reading her last book and told me.

My Alphabet now ends with Y also. RIP!

My favorite mystery writer. Sue Grafton will be so missed. My deepest and heartfelt condolences.
Marcia Robkin