A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Sue Grafton, Kentucky-born mystery writer, dies in California of cancer: Her alphabet now ends in ‘Y’

The alphabet now ends in Y.

Her daughter Jamie published this picture on Facebook — Grafton wearing THE original all purpose black dress.

Sue Grafton, the extraordinary writer of the alphabet series of mystery novels, has passed away after a two-year battle with cancer.

Grafton, 77, a Kentucky native, was a New York Times best-selling author, published in 28 countries and 26 languages. Her alphabet series featuring Kinsey Millhone started with “A is for Alibi” in 1982 and will end with the publication of “Y is for Yesterday.” The books were international favorites, counting readers in the millions.

Her daughter, Jamie, posted the notice of her death on Grafton’s Facebook page, saying her death way “unexpected and fast,” but that she was surrounded by her family including husband Steve.

“She had been fine up until just a few days ago, and then things moved quickly. Sue always said that she would continue writing as long as she had the juice,” Jamie wrote.

“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. 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.”

Named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, Grafton received many other honors and awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award from Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic, the Anthony Award given by Bouchercon, and three Shamus Awards.

Grafton has earned new respect for the mystery form. Readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.

Grafton was married to Steve Humphrey for more than 35 years and has three children, four granddaughters, and one great grandson.  She loved cats, gardens, and good cuisine — not quite the nature-hating, fast-food loving Millhone.

She had a home in Montecito, California (“Santa Teresa”) and another in Louisville, the city in which she was born and raised.

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