Alphabet mystery author Sue Grafton dies at 77

Sue Grafton's husband said she didn't write a novel for the last letter in the alphabet, Z, before she died Thursday. File Photo by Mark Coggins/Wikimedia

Dec. 29 (UPI) — Sue Grafton, the author of a series of alphabet-themed mystery novels featuring investigator Kinsey Millhone, died in California, her husband announced Friday. She was 77.

Grafton, a native of Louisville, Ky., died Thursday of cancer.

“She was marvelous and fabulous and adored by everyone who knew her,” her husband of more than 40 years, Steve Humphrey, told The Courier Journal in Louisville. “She was very successful as a writer; very dedicated and very talented.”

She is perhaps best known for her alphabet mystery novels, which she began writing in 1982 with “A is for Alibi.” Each subsequent novel featured the next letter in the alphabet — “B is for Burglar” and so on.

She published her last novel, “Y is for Yesterday,” in August. She did not start on a book for the letter Z before her death.

“She was trying to come up with an idea, but she never got one she liked,” Humphrey said. “With chemo, she didn’t have much energy or interest in that anyway. There will just be a 25-letter alphabet, I’m sorry to say.”

Her novels have been published in 26 languages in 28 countries.

A graduate of the University of Louisville, Grafton was named Kentucky’s 2007 Distinguished American by the A.B. “Happy” Chandler Foundation, and was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer mourned her death in a post on Twitter.

“The world has lost a great talent and prolific author in Sue Grafton — and in Louisville we have lost a citizen, friend, neighbor, a master gardener and hometown hero. Her legacy will live on through her words, which will entertain and thrill readers for generations to come,” he wrote.

Humphrey said there will be a memorial service for Grafton on Sunday in California, where she lived part of the year.

“There is talk about doing a larger memorial service in New York in April,” he said. “Her literary agent is thinking of doing that before the Edgar Awards Ceremony.”


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