Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

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Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: We've almost made it to the end of the alphabet! Told in both the past and the present, this story has a lot of unlikable characters, and wanders on a little too long, but it's still good to spend time with Kinsey again.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: August 2017
Publisher: Mantle, Main Market Ed
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781447260202

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My very first crime fiction book was a Kinsey Millhone story, and I found it so utterly captivating that it converted me from a crime avoider to a crime lover! Since that first story, I have been committed to the alphabet mysteries, so it I felt both excited and a little sad to be holding the penultimate story in the series in my hands! Set in the 1980's in a fictional town, Santa Teresa in California, Kinsey is a female private detective. She lives alone, and is incredibly self-sufficient and smart, uncovering mysteries through dedicated hard work.

The story this time is told in both the past and the present. Well, in Kinsey's present, since these stories are set during the 1980's. A bunch of teenagers were involved in the death of one of their classmates ten years previously. One of them served time, and having just been released from prison finds himself being threatened with an old videotape made around the time of the murder. Kinsey is engaged to help with the threat of blackmail, but becomes embroiled in the story of what actually happened that night and the attempt to uncover who on earth is telling her the truth.

Kinsey is also dealing with the threat of a malicious character from her previous story, Ned Lowe, who appears to be out to 'get' Kinsey. This was where I felt the story sometimes fell a little short. Kinsey was shaken by her previous encounter with Ned, which was understandable, but she seems to be having a hard time recovering from that. She's doing all the right things, taking self defence classes, checking and double checking her security around her home, and yet somehow I began to feel that she'd lost her confidence. There were one or two moments when she reacted in ways that didn't quite feel true to her character, and at one point, when she is in serious danger and should blatantly call the police on 911, she ends up calling her neighbour, Henry, who isn't even at home! I don't always like Kinsey in these stories, or perhaps I should say, I don't always think I would get on with her if she was a real person! But I do normally respect her, and I enjoy how independent, strong and capable she is. This time I felt she fell a little short, and I was worried about her. This applied to her personal life too, where she seemed to be allowing her cousin Anna to walk all over her, whilst barely raising a whimper! I just found myself feeling cross with her and wondering when she'd get back to being her usual self.

I found the case engaging, although almost all of the characters involved were very unlikable! The one character I was rooting for was, of course, the one I knew had been murdered. Still, I enjoyed the unfolding of events, both in the past and the present. It did run a little too long. I like a crime story to move faster than this one did, and I'm sure the earlier alphabet stories used to crack along in much shorter books. Perhaps as the author is nearing the end of the series she is reluctant to finish it too soon, and so she wants to spend more time with her characters. Kinsey's neighbour Henry, who is always my favourite, did pop in from time to time, and we get to see Rosie and hear about her interesting food concoctions, as well as their being a new house guest or two staying over at Henry's place. I would have liked more Henry and less blackmail, but still, at least he appeared a little!

I most enjoy the moments when Kinsey is pootling around her town, seeing her friends and neighbours, or when she was uncovering Ned's subterfuge at her office and discovering what had happened to one of Ned's previous love-interests. I much prefer it when she's being very smart, and figuring things out in interesting ways. Usually Sue Grafton maintains a very real feel of the eighties, and it's intriguing to see how the cases get solved without the use of much of our modern technology. This time the historical setting seemed to slip occasionally, and I found myself wondering about aspects such as whether organic food was a 'thing' in 1989, and why none of the characters seemed to have a computer yet.

I realise that I'm sounding quite critical, and yet still this is a good, solid four star book! I did enjoy it, very much, and it's a remarkably quick book to read, even though it's so enormous. It's just that I really enjoy this series, and feel very invested in the characters, and as it romps towards the end I was hoping for it to be really amazing, and instead it was just good. Kinsey being a little 'off' was disappointing to me. I have my fingers crossed now for 'Z is for Zero' (Sue Grafton revealed the final title on her website!) We've got two years to wait, to discover how it all ends...

Further reading suggestion: You can dip in and out of the alphabet series fairly easily, as although there are stands of plot running throughout, each mystery is normally standalone. I'd recommend taking a look at U is for Undertow if you haven't already.

Buy Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton at Amazon.com.


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