cover image Y Is for Yesterday

Y Is for Yesterday

Sue Grafton, read by Judy Kaye. Random House Audio, , unabridged, 14 CDs, 17 hrs., $45 ISBN 978-0-385-39399-7

In Grafton’s penultimate Kinsey Millhone alphabet mystery, actor Kaye provides the perfect tough but feminine, self-effacing voice for the series’ protagonist. 1989 is drawing to a close when Kinsey, working as a private eye, agrees to help her new clients, Lauren and Hollis McCabe deal with an extortionist. Their son, Fritz, has just completed a 10-year stint in a county youth prison for murdering a female classmate. The extortionist is demanding $25,000 to keep an old sex video, starring Fritz and an underage girl, from sending him back behind bars. The novel alternates between 1979, when Fritz and his despicable, entitled private school friends drift from a cheating scandal to the brutal killing, and Kinsey’s search for the extortionist among Fritz’s former peers, whom age has not improved. Kaye effortlessly takes listeners through Kinsey’s sleuthing, repeating her voices for regulars, like octogenarian landlord Henry Pitts and the crazed Ned Lowe, and smoothly creating vocal characterizations for newcomers. Self-absorption is the key to her interpretations of the awful class of 1979. The well-born boys sound properly loutish, the overprivileged girls, emotional and surly. Only a skillful actress could make them sound so unappealingly entitled. [em]A Putnam/Wood hardcover. (Aug.) [/em]