cover image Kinsey and Me

Kinsey and Me

Sue Grafton. Putnam/Marian Wood, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-16383-8

This short story collection from Grafton (V Is for Vengeance) combines glimpses of her series detective, Kinsey Milhone, with a revealing self-portrait, separating the two with a thoughtful essay on the evolution of the private eye. The volume opens with nine crisply plotted Milhone tales, each with a clever hook: a woman’s book club that does more than read about alibis, a twist on the classic “poison that leaves no trace.” The second, shorter section contains 13 pieces written after the death of the author’s mother. Featuring “a younger version” of Grafton called Kit Blue and a moody, atmospheric style, they searingly evoke the author’s alcoholic parents as she struggles to make peace with her troubled childhood. These provide moving and surprising insights into the woman behind the bestsellers. Though the two sections of the book feel strikingly different, fans will admire Grafton’s impressive output and feisty fictional detective all the more knowing the challenging beginnings from which both grew. Agent: Molly Friedrich, the Friedrich Agency. (Jan.)