Y is for Yesterday is the last book in Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. There will be no “Z,” since Grafton died in December.
Along with many other Grafton fans, I was greatly saddened by news of her death. I have read every Grafton book, starting with A is for Alibi. Her detective, Kinsey Millhone, was a very likeable and approachable character. Sophistication was not her strength: she always wore jeans and a turtleneck, owned one dress she kept in the trunk of her car, trimmed her hair with fingernail scissors, and enjoyed peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.
She also struggled with personal relationships, having been divorced and unlucky in love, although she did have close friends in her pastry-chef landlord Henry, his brothers, and Hungarian restaurant owner Rosie. Kinsey was known for her unorthodox investigative techniques as well as her self-deprecating sense of humor.
The early books were fast-paced and funny. As the series progressed, the tone became darker. Y is for Yesterday continues the darker theme. The plot revolves around troubled children from dysfunctional families who commit a horrible crime. They grow up to become troubled adults who show little remorse for their earlier deeds. There is little humor or lightness in this book. Henry and Rosie are reduced to flat cameos, Henry’s now-barren yard is taken over by a homeless squatter who uses her excess weight to pin down a suspect, and Kinsey is stalked by someone who is trying to kill her. Grafton knew she was ill when she wrote this book, and perhaps that influenced the tone.
While I would have preferred a more uplifting resolution to the series, I will retain fond thoughts of Kinsey, hoping that in the fictional hereafter she will continue to combat crime, renew her friendships with Henry and his siblings, and perhaps at last even find her own special someone.