Grafton’s short-story collection is short on new and special reads

Fort Worth Star-TelegramJanuary 26, 2013 

"Kinsey and Me" by Sue Grafton.

  • Fiction Kinsey and Me Sue Grafton Marian Wood/Putnam, 304 pages

Sue Grafton’s new collection of short stories, “Kinsey and Me,” is a mixed bag of material. There are gems inside that fans of Grafton’s “alphabet series” of Kinsey Millhone detective capers are sure to enjoy.

Her best-selling novels are readily available in bookstores, but did you know that Grafton also wrote eight mystery shorts featuring her plucky private eye? Published in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Redbook and in various anthology collections, these breezy detective shorts haven’t been as easy to track down over the years.

That makes “Kinsey and Me” a kind of desert oasis for die-hard, read-everything-already fans as they wait for the next installment in the series, the as-yet-untitled “W” book due this year.

But accompanying these solid mini-mysteries is a collection of head-scratchers that simply don’t belong in the same volume: 13 quasi-autobiographical stories about a girl named Kit Blue and her painful early life with an alcoholic mother.

“Kinsey and Me” is actually a reprint of a story collection Grafton privately published in 1991.

Maybe some readers will think it’s interesting. But most will probably yearn for more of what attracted them to Grafton’s writing in the first place.

Alas, there’s only one “new” Kinsey Millhone tale accompanying the eight aforementioned stories. It’s a goofy five-page reprint from a 2003 Lands’ End catalog in which the heroine persistently plugs the clothing company’s Squall Parka with Thermolite Micro insulation. The dialog in this story includes an exchange in which a suspect says, “Nice jacket, by the way. It looks warm,” and Kinsey replies, “Thanks, it is. It’s also machine-washable.”

If the author really wanted to make this book special, maybe she should have put her back into writing two new mystery short stories. Or a 100-page novella.

Readers are being asked to hand over $27.95 for “Kinsey and Me.” They should get something truly special in return.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service