Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton

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Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: An interesting, unusual collection for fans of the Alphabet Murder novels who would like to read a little bit more about Kinsey, and learn a little about the author's life too.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: January 2013
Publisher: Mantle
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0230771444

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Sue Grafton is the writer who turned me on to crime fiction. I used to studiously avoid that part of the library feeling myself, for some unknown reason, to be above such stories. Then one day I read one of Sue Grafton's alphabet murder stories and I was hooked! I couldn't get enough of them! I'm currently awaiting the next in the series to be published, so I was pleased to see this collection appearing in the meantime. The collection is split into two parts, with the first made up of short stories about Kinsey Millhone, the private detective from the Alphabet books, and the second part being a sort of fictionalised autobiography for Grafton herself, with stories supposedly about a character called Kit Blue but, really, being stories of Grafton's own childhood and young adult life.

Short stories can be tricky little things to write, and I think this must especially have been the case here when Kinsey is used to starring in her own full length novel and here the story must be crammed into just a matter of pages. For this reason, some of the stories work better than others, and occassionally the plots seems a bit ham-fisted, and the characters more two-dimensional than Grafton fans are used to. But I still found myself very much drawn in, and loving spending a little time with Kinsey again! She remains recognisably herself, and it's fun to see the way these plots get resolved so very quickly.

I really liked the preface and introduction to the book. Grafton writes about how short stories, and crime fiction short stories need to work, as well as briefly writing about where Kinsey came from. To be honest, I would've liked more, much more, of this. I could have read a whole book of Grafton just writing about writing, creating the character, researching her stories, and because there is just such a little of this I decided to deduct one star from my review. So, fans, there is something to learn, but not very much of it!

The second half of the book is unusual. There is an entr'acte where Grafton writes about Private Investigators within stories, followed by another introduction to lead us into the stories about Grafton's own life. She was the child of two alcoholics, and after her mother died she used fiction to write about some of the incidents in her life, perhaps as a kind of catharsis. The character she writes about in the stories is called Kit Blue, which is a little strange as I'd just expected her to use her own name. Because of this the stories do seem slightly removed from Grafton herself. We know that they are about her life, because she has told us so, but for some reason she is using a fictional character to portray her life. Very intriguing! The stories here are sad at times, and it's interesting to get a glimpse into Grafton's own life.

So, this is a collection for fans of Grafton's work already really. I don't think a new reader would gain anything from beginning here and, indeed, might be put off since the Kinsey stories are sometimes good, always interesting, but nowhere near as brilliantly executed as the novels. Fans should certainly take a look however, just to get a little more Kinsey. It's a shame Grafton didn't go into more detail about being an author, her ties to Kinsey and their similarities and differences - those were the really interesting parts for me - but I found this a satisfying read none-the-less and am, of course, still looking forward to the next Alphabet book!

This is currently the most recent Alphabet Book, and well worth a read V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

Buy Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton at Amazon.com.

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