R Is For Ricochet [NOOK Book]

Overview

Reba Lafferty was a daughter of privilege, the only child of an adoring father. Nord Lafferty was already in his fifties when Reba was born, and he could deny her nothing. Over the years, he quietly settled her many scrapes with the law, but he wasn't there for her when she was convicted of embezzlement and sent to the California Institution for Women. Now, at thirty-two, she is about to be paroled, having served twenty-two months of a four-year sentence. Nord Lafferty wants to be sure she stays straight, stays ...
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R Is For Ricochet

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Overview

Reba Lafferty was a daughter of privilege, the only child of an adoring father. Nord Lafferty was already in his fifties when Reba was born, and he could deny her nothing. Over the years, he quietly settled her many scrapes with the law, but he wasn't there for her when she was convicted of embezzlement and sent to the California Institution for Women. Now, at thirty-two, she is about to be paroled, having served twenty-two months of a four-year sentence. Nord Lafferty wants to be sure she stays straight, stays at home and away from the drugs, the booze, the gamblers." "It seems a straightforward assignment for Kinsey: babysit Reba until she settles in, make sure she follows all the rules of her parole. Maybe all of a week's work. Nothing untoward - the woman seems remorseful and friendly. And the money is good." But life is never that simple, and Reba is out of prison less than twenty-four hours when one of her old crowd comes circling round.


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  • Tagged! Interview: Sue Grafton
    Tagged! Interview: Sue Grafton  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Grafton offers more of the same-old same-old in her less-than-inspired 18th Kinsey Millhone novel (after 2002's P Is for Peril). In this sexy adventure, the spunky hard-boiled detective has to escort the newly paroled Reba Lafferty, privileged ne'er-do-well, to her stately home, keeping her on the straight and narrow. Reba challenges the PI with her barely concealed hankerings for the now off-limits booze, gambling and charming Alan Beckwith, married real estate developer and former employer for whom Reba took a two-year barbwire vacation courtesy of the California Institution for Women. Lust is in the air as studly, stylish cop Cheney Phillips enters in his red Mercedes, fanning the flames with Kinsey, when Beckwith's activities catch the eye of the feds. Kinsey lends a supportive ear to her beloved 87-year-old landlord, smitten by a 70-year-old neighbor. Kinsey and Reba team up to get the goods on Beckwith, but reckless Reba has vengeful ideas of her own and more than once lands their collective fat in the fire. If the chemistry between Cheney and Kinsey seems forced at times, Grafton as usual creates believable and enduring characters and a strong sense of place in her town of Santa Teresa circa 1987. And that should be more than enough for most fans. Agent, Molly Friedrich at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency. (July 13) Forecast: A decline in quality in this iconic series hardly matters. A national author tour will help fuel another bestseller. BOMC Main Selection, main selection of Doubleday Book Club, Literary Guild and Mystery Guild. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Grafton's 18th Kinsey Milhone mystery, the crime is not murder (although a corpse does pays a brief visit) but "love gone right, love gone wrong, and matters somewhere in between." Hired by dying millionaire Nord Lafferty to baby-sit his recently paroled daughter, Reba, Kinsey finds herself entangled in a complex money-laundering scheme when Reba decides to take revenge on the two-timing lover for whom she had gone to prison. Meanwhile, Kinsey's octogenarian landlord resigns himself to a loveless life after his interfering brothers sabotage a budding relationship with a lively widow. And the twice-divorced Kinsey has to decide whether to risk opening her heart to sexy cop Cheney Phillips. As demonstrated here, Grafton's series remains fresh and exciting, with complex plots and well-developed characters. Kudos to Grafton for maintaining her high standards. Grafton lives in California and Kentucky. [A BOMC, Doubleday Book Club, Literary Guild, and Mystery Guild main selection.]-Wilda Williams, Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Kinsey has been hired by a wealthy father to befriend his daughter upon her release from prison after serving a sentence for embezzling funds from her boyfriend/employer. It sounds easy, but the detective learns quickly that Reba's boss is still involved in a complex money-laundering scheme and is wanted by many federal law-enforcement agencies who want Reba to help them get evidence against him. Eventually she does, but there are problems leading to the exciting climax when the sleuth herself is kidnapped. Kinsey is young enough to appeal to teens; her lighthearted personality and witty asides amuse and entertain. Fans of this series will be pleased that she has a new boyfriend, but may be frustrated because her elderly landlord's family interferes.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
R is really for romance, as Kinsey Millhone acknowledges on the first page of this tale of love gone right and wrong and every which way in between. After serving her time for embezzling $350,000 from real-estate entrepreneur Alan Beckwith, Reba Lafferty's emerging from the California Institution for Women, and her father, an ancient millionaire, wants somebody to meet her at the prison gate, drive her home, and make sure she gets settled. Mission accomplished, Kinsey and Reba agree after two days of salt-and-pepper rapport. But like the Commander in Chief, they turn out to be premature. Reba's relationship to the man she robbed is fraught with complications that multiply by the minute, and before long Lt. Cheney Phillips, Santa Teresa PD, is leaning on Kinsey to lean on Reba to gather evidence in a money-laundering case for the IRS, the FBI, and the DEA. Back home, Kinsey's landlord, spry geezer Henry Pitts, chafes as his even older brothers try to cut into his courtship of widowed painter Mattie Halstead, leaving Kinsey wondering why she's trying to foster some love affairs and nip others in the bud. No more mystery than Q Is for Quarry (2002). But Kinsey's frantic attempts to keep her balance on the tightrope between a pair of lovers scheming against each other, and her own latest stab at romance, will have fans purring contentedly. Book-of-the-Month Club/Doubleday Book Club/Literary Guild/Mystery Guild main selection
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101147030
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/29/2005
  • Series: Kinsey Millhone Series , #18
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 11,117
  • File size: 348 KB

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton is published in 28 countries and 26 languages—including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. Books in her alphabet series, begun in 1982, are international bestsellers with readership in the millions. And like Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker, and John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—Sue Grafton has earned new respect for the mystery form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.


Sue divides her time between Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky, where she was born and raised. She has three children and two grandchildren. Grafton has been married to Steve Humphrey for more than twenty years. She loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine.

Biography

Sue Grafton is published in 28 countries and 26 languages -- including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. She's an international bestseller with a readership in the millions. She's a writer who believes in the form that she has chosen to mine: "The mystery novel offers a world in which justice is served. Maybe not in a court of law," she has said, "but people do get their just desserts." And like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker and the John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—she has earned new respect for that form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.

But who is the real Sue Grafton? Many of her readers think she is simply a version of her character and alter ego Kinsey Millhone. Here are Kinsey's own words in the early pages of N Is for Noose:

"So there I was barreling down the highway in search of employment and not at all fussy about what kind of work I'd take. I wanted distraction. I wanted some money, escape, anything to keep my mind off the subject of Robert Deitz. I'm not good at good-byes. I've suffered way too many in my day and I don't like the sensation. On the other hand, I'm not that good at relationships. Get close to someone and the next thing you know, you've given them the power to wound, betray, irritate, abandon you, or bore you senseless. My general policy is to keep my distance, thus avoiding a lot of unruly emotion. In psychiatric circles, there are names for people like me."

Those are sentiments that hit home for Grafton's readers. And she has said that Kinsey is herself, only younger, smarter, and thinner. But are they an apt description of Kinsey's creator? Well, she's been married to Steve Humphrey for more than twenty years. She has three kids and two grandkids. She loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine—not quite the nature-hating, fast-food loving Millhone. So: readers and reviewers beware. Never assume the author is the character in the book. Sue, who has a home in Montecito, California ("Santa Theresa") and another in Louisville, the city in which she was born and raised, is only in her imagination Kinsey Millhone -- but what a splendid imagination it is.

Biography from author website

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    1. Hometown:
      Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 24, 1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, University of Louisville, 1961
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

1

The basic question is this: given human nature, are any of us really capable of change? The mistakes other people make are usually patently obvious. Our own are tougher to recognize. In most cases, our path through life reflects a fundamental truth about who we are now and who we've been since birth. We're optimists or pessimists, joyful or depressed, gullible or cynical, inclined to seek adventure or to avoid all risks. Therapy might strengthen our assets or offset our liabilities, but in the main we do what we do because we've always done it that way, even when the outcome is bad...perhaps especially when the outcome is bad.

This is a story about romance-love gone right, love gone wrong, and matters somewhere in between.

I left downtown Santa Teresa that day at 1:15 and headed for Montebello, a short ten miles south. The weather report had promised highs in the seventies. Morning cloudiness had given way to sunshine, a welcomed respite from the overcast that typically mars our June and July. I'd eaten lunch at my desk, feasting on an olive-and-pimiento-cheese sandwich on wheat bread, cut in quarters, my third-favorite sandwich in the whole wide world. So what was the problem? I had none. Life was great.

In committing the matter to paper, I can see now what should have been apparent from the first, but events seemed to unfold at such a routine pace that I was caught, metaphorically speaking, asleep at the wheel. I'm a private detective, female, age thirty-seven, working in the small Southern California town of Santa Teresa. My jobs are varied, not always lucrative, but sufficient to keep me housed and fed and ahead of my bills. I do employee background checks. I track down missing persons or locate heirs entitled to monies in the settlement of an estate. On occasion, I investigate claims involving arson, fraud, or wrongful death.

In my personal life, I've been married and divorced twice, and subsequent relationships have usually come to grief. The older I get, the less I seem to understand men, and because of that I tend to shy away from them. Granted, I have no sex life to speak of, but at least I'm not plagued by unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. I've learned the hard way that love and work are a questionable mix.

I was driving on a stretch of highway once known as the Montebello Parkway, built in 1927 as the result of a fund-raising campaign that made possible the creation of frontage roads and landscaped center dividers still in evidence today. Because billboards and commercial structures along the roadway were banned at the same time, that section of the 101 is still attractive, except when it's jammed with rush-hour traffic.

Montebello itself underwent a similar transformation in 1948, when the Montebello Protective and Improvement Association successfully petitioned to eliminate sidewalks, concrete curbs, advertising signs, and anything else that might disrupt the rural atmosphere. Montebello is known for its two-hundred-some-odd luxury estates, many of them built by men who'd amassed their fortunes selling common household goods, salt and flour being two.

I was on my way to meet Nord Lafferty, an elderly gentleman, whose photograph appeared at intervals in the society column of the Santa Teresa Dispatch. This was usually occasioned by his making yet another sizable contribution to some charitable foundation. Two buildings at UCST had been named for him, as had a wing of Santa Teresa Hospital and a special collection of rare books he'd donated to the public library. He'd called me two days before and indicated he had "a modest undertaking" he wanted to discuss. I was curious how he'd come by my name and even more curious about the job itself. I've been a private investigator in Santa Teresa for the past ten years, but my office is small and, as a rule, I'm ignored by the wealthy, who seem to prefer doing business through their attorneys in New York, Chicago, or L.A.

I took the St. Isadore off-ramp and turned north toward the foothills that ran between Montebello and the Los Padres National Forest. At one time, this area boasted grand old resort hotels, citrus and avocado ranches, olive groves, a country store, and the Montebello train depot, which serviced the Southern Pacific Railroad. I'm forever reading up on local history, trying to imagine the region as it was 125 years ago. Land was selling then for seventy-five cents an acre. Montebello is still bucolic, but much of the charm has been bulldozed away. What's been erected instead-the condominiums, housing developments, and the big flashy starter castles of the nouveau riche-is poor compensation for what was lost or destroyed.

I turned right on West Glen and drove along the winding two-lane road as far as Bella Sera Place. Bella Sera is lined with olive and pepper trees, the narrow blacktop climbing gradually to a mesa that affords a sweeping view of the coast. The pungent scent of the ocean faded with my ascent, replaced by the smell of sage and the bay laurel trees. The hillsides were thick with yarrow, wild mustard, and California poppies. The afternoon sun had baked the boulders to a golden turn, and a warm chuffing wind was beginning to stir the dry grasses. The road wound upward through an alley of live oaks that terminated at the entrance to the Lafferty estate. The property was surrounded by a stone wall that was eight feet high and posted with No Trespassing signs.

I slowed to an idle when I reached the wide iron gates. I leaned out and pushed the call button on a mounted keypad. Belatedly I spotted a camera mounted atop one of two stone pillars, its hollow eye fixed on me. I must have passed inspection because the gates swung open at a measured pace. I shifted gears and sailed through, following the brick-paved drive for another quarter of a mile.

Through a picket fence of pines, I caught glimpses of a gray stone house. When the whole of the residence finally swept into view, I let out a breath. Something of the past remained after all. Four towering eucalyptus trees laid a dappled shade on the grass, and a breeze pushed a series of cloud-shaped shadows across the red tile roof. The two-story house, with matching one-story wings topped with stone balustrades at each end, dominated my visual field. A series of four arches shielded the entrance and provided a covered porch on which wicker furniture had been arranged. I counted twelve windows on the second floor, separated by paired eave brackets, largely decorative, that appeared to support the roof.

I pulled onto a parking pad sufficient to accommodate ten cars and left my pale blue VW hunched, cartoonlike, between a sleek Lincoln Continental on one side and a full-size Mercedes on the other. I didn't bother to lock up, operating on the assumption that the electronic surveillance system was watching over both me and my vehicle as I crossed to the front walk.

The lawns were wide and well tended, and the quiet was underlined by the twittering of finches. I pressed the front bell, listening to the hollow-sounding chimes inside clanging out two notes as though by a hammer on iron. The ancient woman who came to the door wore an old-fashioned black uniform with a white pinafore over it. Her opaque stockings were the color of doll flesh, her crepe-soled shoes emitting the faintest squeak as I followed her down the marble-tiled hall. She hadn't asked my name, but perhaps I was the only visitor expected that day. The corridor was paneled in oak, the white plaster ceiling embossed with chevrons and fleurs-de-lis.

She showed me into the library, which was also paneled in oak. Drab leather-bound books lined shelves that ran floor to ceiling, with a brass rail and a rolling ladder allowing access to the upper reaches. The room smelled of dry wood and paper mold. The inner hearth in the stone fireplace was tall enough to stand in, and a recent blaze had left a partially blackened oak log and the faint stench of wood smoke. Mr. Lafferty was seated in one of a pair of matching wing chairs.

I placed him in his eighties, an age I'd considered elderly once upon a time. I've since come to realize how widely the aging process varies. My landlord is eighty-seven, the baby of his family, with siblings whose ages range as high as ninety-six. All five of them are lively, intelligent, adventurous, competitive, and given to good-natured squabbling among themselves. Mr. Lafferty, on the other hand, looked as though he'd been old for a good twenty years. He was inordinately thin, with knees as bony as a pair of misplaced elbows. His once sharp features had at least been softened by the passing years. Two small clear plastic tubes had been placed discreetly in his nostrils, tethering him to a stout green oxygen tank on a cart to his left. One side of his jaw was sunken, and a savage red line running across his throat suggested extensive surgery of some vicious sort.

He studied me with eyes as dark and shiny as dots of brown sealing wax. "I appreciate your coming, Ms. Millhone. I'm Nord Lafferty," he said, holding out a hand that was knotted with veins. His voice was hoarse, barely a whisper.

"Nice to meet you," I murmured, moving forward to shake hands with him. His were pale, a tremor visible in his fingers, which were icy to the touch.

He motioned to me. "You might want to pull that chair close. I've had thyroid surgery a month ago and more recently some polyps removed from my vocal cords. I've been left with this rasping noise that passes as speech. Isn't painful, but it's irksome. I apologize if I'm difficult to understand."

"So far, I'm not having any problem."

"Good. Would you like a cup of tea? I can have my housekeeper make a pot, but I'm afraid you'll have to pour for yourself. These days, her hands aren't any steadier than mine."

"Thanks, but I'm fine." I pulled the second wing chair closer and took a seat. "When was this house built? It's really beautiful."

"1893. A man named Mueller bought a six-hundred-forty-acre section from the county of Santa Teresa. Of that, seventy acres remain. House took six years to build and the story has it Mueller died the day the workers finally set down their tools. Since then, the occupants have fared poorly...except for me, knock on wood. I bought the property in 1929, just after the crash. Fellow who owned the place lost everything. Drove into town, climbed up to the clock tower, and dived over the rail. Widow needed the cash and I stepped in. I was criticized, of course. Folks claimed I took advantage, but I'd loved the house from the minute I laid eyes on it. Someone would have bought it. Better me than them. I had money for the upkeep, which wasn't true of many folks back then."

"You were lucky."

"Indeed. Made my fortune in paper goods in case you're curious and too polite to inquire."

I smiled. "Polite, I don't know about. I'm always curious."

"That's fortunate, I'd say, given the business you're in. I'm assuming you're a busy woman so I'll get right to the point. Your name was given to me by a friend of yours-fellow I met during this recent hospital stay."

"Stacey Oliphant," I said, the name flashing immediately to mind. I'd worked a case with Stacey, a retired Sheriff's Department homicide detective, and my old pal Lieutenant Dolan, now retired from the Santa Teresa Police Department. Stacey was battling cancer, but the last I'd heard, he'd been given a reprieve.

Mr. Lafferty nodded. "He asked me to tell you he's doing well, by the way. He checked in for a battery of tests, but all of them turned out negative. As it happened, the two of us walked the halls together in the afternoons, and I got chatting about my daughter, Reba."

I was already thinking skip trace, missing heir, possibly a background check on a guy if Reba were romantically involved.

He went on. "I only have the one child and I suppose I've spoiled her unmercifully, though that wasn't my intent. Her mother ran off when she was just a little thing, this high. I was caught up in business and left the day-to-day raising of her to a series of nannies. She'd been a boy I could have sent her off to boarding school the way my parents did me, but I wanted her at home. In retrospect, I see that might've been poor judgment on my part, but it didn't seem so at the time." He paused and then gestured impatiently toward the floor, as though chiding a dog for leaping up on him. "No matter. It's too late for regrets. Pointless, anyway. What's done is done." He looked at me sharply from under his bony brow. "You probably wonder what I'm driving at."

I proffered a slight shrug, waiting to hear what he had to say.

"Reba's being paroled on July twentieth. That's next Monday morning. I need someone to pick her up and bring her home. She'll be staying with me until she's on her feet again."

"What facility?" I asked, hoping I didn't sound as startled as I felt.

"California Institution for Women. Are you familiar with the place?"

"It's down in Corona, couple of hundred miles south. I've never actually been there, but I know where it is."

"Good. I'm hoping you can take time out of your schedule for the trip."

"That sounds easy enough, but why me? I charge five hundred dollars a day. You don't need a private detective to make a run like that. Doesn't she have friends?"

"Not anyone I'd ask. Don't worry about the money. That's the least of it. My daughter's difficult. Willful and rebellious. I want you to see to it she keeps the appointment with her parole officer and whatever else is required once she's been released. I'll pay you your full rate even if you only work for a part of each day."

"What if she doesn't like the supervision?"

"It's not up to her. I've told her I'm hiring someone to assist her and she's agreed. If she likes you, she'll be cooperative, at least to a point."

"May I ask what she did?"

"Given the time you'll be spending in her company, you're entitled to know. She was convicted of embezzling money from the company she worked for. Alan Beckwith and Associates. He does property management, real estate investment and development, things of that type. Do you know the man?"

"I've seen his name in the paper."

Nord Lafferty shook his head. "I don't care for him myself. I've known his wife's family for years. Tracy's a lovely girl. I can't understand how she ended up with the likes of him. Alan Beckwith is an upstart. He calls himself an entrepreneur, but I've never been entirely clear what he does. Our paths have crossed in public on numerous occasions and I can't say I'm impressed. Reba seems to think the world of him. I will credit him for this-he spoke up in her behalf before her sentencing. It was a generous gesture on his part and one he didn't have to make."

"How long has she been at CIW?"

"She's served twenty-two months of a four-year sentence. She never went to trial. At her arraignment-which I'm sorry to say I missed-she claimed she was indigent, so the court appointed a public defender to handle her case. After consultation with him, she waived her right to a preliminary hearing and entered a plea of guilty."

"Just like that?"

"I'm afraid so."

"And her attorney agreed to it?"

"He argued strenuously against it, but Reba wouldn't listen."

"How much money are we talking?"

"Three hundred fifty thousand dollars over a two-year period."

"How'd they discover the theft?"

"During a routine audit. Reba was one of a handful of employees with access to the accounts. Naturally, suspicion fell on her. She's been in trouble before, but nothing of this magnitude."

I could feel a protest welling but I bit back my response.

He leaned forward. "You have something to say, feel free to say it. Stacey tells me you're outspoken so please don't hesitate on my account. It may save us a misunderstanding."

"I was just wondering why you didn't step in. A high-powered attorney might have made all the difference."

He dropped his gaze to his hands. "I should have helped her...I know that...but I'd been coming to her rescue for many, many years...all her life, if you want to know the truth. At least that's what I was being told by friends. They said she had to face the consequences of her behavior or she was never going to learn. They said I'd be enabling, that saving her was the worst possible action under the circumstances."

"Who's this 'they' you're referring to?"

For the first time, he faltered. "I had a lady friend. Lucinda. We'd been keeping company for years. She'd seen me intercede in Reba's behalf on countless occasions. She persuaded me to put my foot down and that's what I did."

"And now?"

"Frankly, I was shocked when Reba was sentenced to four years in state prison. I had no idea the penalty would be so stiff. I thought the judge would suspend sentence or agree to probation, as the public defender suggested. At any rate, Lucinda and I quarreled, bitterly I might add. I broke off the relationship and severed my ties with her. She was much younger than I. In hindsight, I realized she was angling for herself, hoping for marriage. Reba disliked her intensely. Lucinda knew that, of course."

"What happened to the money?"

"Reba gambled it away. She's always been attracted to card play. Roulette, the slots. She loves to bet the ponies, but she has no head for it."

"She's a problem gambler?"

"Her problem isn't the gambling, it's the losing," he remarked, with only the weakest of smiles.

"What about drugs and alcohol?"

"I'd have to answer yes on both counts. She tends to be reckless. She has a wild streak like her mother. I'm hoping this experience in prison has taught her self-restraint. As for the job itself, we'll play that by ear. We're talking two to three days, a week at the most, until she's reestablished herself. Since your responsibilities are limited, I won't be requiring a written report. Submit an invoice and I'll pay your daily rate and all the necessary expenses."

"That seems simple enough."

"One other item. If there's any suggestion that she's backsliding, I want to be informed. Perhaps with sufficient warning, I can head off disaster this time around."

"A tall order."

"I'm aware of that."

Briefly, I considered the proposition. Ordinarily I don't like serving as a babysitter and potential tattletale, but in this case, his concern didn't seem out of line. "What time will she be released?"

—from R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton, Copyright © 2004 Sue Grafton, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Sue Grafton

Internationally acclaimed suspense author Sue Grafton is right on target with the powerful 18th volume in her bestselling Alphabet Mystery series featuring private eye Kinsey Millhone. In R Is for Ricochet, Kinsey is hired to help a young parolee make the tough transition back into the "real world." But riding herd on willful, rebellious Reba Lafferty proves to be a tougher job than anyone anticipated. Reba hasn't outgrown her taste for living life on the edge, and she's got a positive talent for taking other people along with her…including Kinsey. Sue Grafton spins a complex web of crime and passion in this tale of love, money laundering, and revenge. Here's what Grafton had to say when Ransom Notes asked her to talk about what she writes, and why…and how her most famous creation, Kinsey Millhone, fits into the big picture.

Sue Grafton: To me, mysteries are appealing because they have a strong story line -- beginning, middle, and end -- a hero, a villain, and (with luck) a satisfying resolution. Mysteries are designed to be read in one or two sittings, which is a blessing for busy people who don't have much time to themselves. My best moments with writing are those when I'm totally immersed in the scene in front of me. Most of writing is in the preparation; research, plotting, character development, and the outlining of sequences. I find the writing itself comes more quickly when I've done my homework in advance. Most of the cases I write about are fiction. In the real world, murder seldom makes sense, and the motives for such crimes are absurd, given all the pain and suffering involved. In a mystery novel, the killer generally has a strong reason for what s/he does. There's stealth and ingenuity, both of which Kinsey Millhone employs in her search for the truth.

Ransom Notes: In Q Is for Quarry, the publisher included a forensically reconstructed portrait of the real murder victim that story was based on, in the hope that the victim might finally be identified. Has there been any progress on that real-life investigation?

SG: The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department has had close to 150 calls about the Jane Doe I wrote about in Q. So far, none have panned out, but we're all still optimistic that one of these days someone will step forward with Jane Doe's real name.

RN: What you do think exploring romantic/personal story lines, as you do in R Is for Ricochet, adds to the mix in a mystery?

SG: In this day and age, the mystery novel doesn't have to be as plot-driven as it used to be. I think of Kinsey Millhone as literally a "private eye"...someone who observes and comments on society at large. Most of what she does is related to crime and criminals, but certainly her personal life and her personal development work hand-in-hand with her professional life. In many ways, R is about romance, which seems like the perfect counterpoint to murder and death.

RN: Do you plan to continue to write about Kinsey after you finish the Alphabet series, or in books outside of that sequence?

SG: I did a great deal of writing before I launched myself into the current Alphabet series. I wrote and published two mainstream novels, plus articles and short stories. I also worked in Hollywood for 15 years before Ms. Millhone came along. These days, I write one book at a time with no clear sense of where I'm heading. I discover as I go, which is anxiety-producing but keeps me on my toes. Certainly, I intend to go all the way to Z...at which point I may retire!

RN: Do you like readers to contact you?

SG: I'm always interested in hearing from my readers...unless they write to insult or berate me. I can be reached through my publisher, or through P.O. Box 41447, Santa Barbara, CA 93140.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 90 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2011

    I enjoyed "R"

    I started with "A" and am up to "R". I will be ordering the next couple of books for my nook soon. I look forward to each book as if I was catching up with an old friend. I enjoy Kinsey's adventures, issues, and spirit. I am upset that the alphabet has so few letters left. I have enjoyed the ones I have read and look forward to the ones that I haven't. Thank you, Sue Grafton, for this series.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    R is for Reba

    Reba Lafferty is one of my favorite 'criminals' so far in the Kinsey series. Although there are times you want to figuratively wring her neck, she is such a fun sidekick that you forgive her.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    R is for ricochet

    This one was a little different from the other books. I did not feel like it was a mystery so much as the truth coming out. Kinsey was hired to be a babysitter not a PI. Not my favorite, but a lot of character development on main characters that I enjoyed. As always I love these Sue Grafton books ready for the next one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2012

    Very good!

    If you are a fan of Grafton's alphabet series, then you will be happy. Another easy reading mystery that I found very enjoyable. All the regular's with a new mystery.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2007

    Not My Favorite

    I'm a big Sue fan and this was the only alphabet book I had missed. It was rambling I have to agree with the other reviewers. I am anxiously awaiting 'T'. It started out great though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2006

    Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!

    Two days ago I was whining re Q is for Quarry and Cheney's 'marriage'. WOW I wish I had waited to read R is for Ricochet. I would have liked to see Kinsey kick Reba's butt from here to the moon throughout the entire book, which made the ending very satisfying. And Cheney Phillips is my idea of a sexy leading man. Good Lord, their interaction took my breath away. I dearly hope this guy is the one for Kinsey. He is good enough for her and she is definately deserving of this smart, sweet, endearing hunk. I read this in under 24 hours, a record for me with a Grafton novel. So, if anyone is keeping record, I vote for a Kinsey/Cheney ride into the happiness sunset by the end of this series. I have become a very devoted fan of Ms. Grafton and Kinsey Millhone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2005

    R is for rambling

    I am a big fan of Sue Grafton and could not wait to read 'R'. However, I was disappointed because I felt the story dragged on a bit. Also, I hated her relationship with Chaney. I hope they break up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2005

    Not up to par.....

    I was also disappointed in this newest book in this series. As someone else noted, the Kinsey character acted totally different. It was almost as though someone else wrote the book and not Grafton who has given Kinsey such strong characteristics! Kinsey has always been an independent person who thought things through and kept her wits about her. In this episode, she was nervous and did many things very out of character. I realize that Grafton had Kinsey find a successful love match and that made her appear softer and more feminine. But her actions in the plotline were those of someone who had never been in the PI field before. I was left feeling as though it was just a quick write for Grafton. She didn't do service to her wonderful heroine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    Disappointing

    I am a huge Sue Grafton fan and couldn't wait to start R however I was dissappointed with it, it just didn't have the same kind of feel as the other books. It was kinda bland and...dare I say...boring? But that is just my opinion. I hope S is better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2005

    Wearing Out?

    I have read all the Kinsey Millhone mysteries and eagerly await each new one. However, I was very disappointed with the 'R' of the series. Kinsey does so many stupid things that it is unbelievable. What happened to the tough Kinsey? She comes across here as naive and just dumb. The ending is a bit foggy as well. I do hope Grafton gets back on track with 'S'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2005

    ANOTHER GRAFTON GREAT

    I think this is the best LETTER yet! I've read everything...A-R...and they just keep getting better. Grafton has done a superb job of devloping Kinsey into a believable and likeable character. I don't know what I'll do after I finish 'Z is for...?'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2004

    My favorite one so far. . .

    I loved this book. I had a hard time putting it down. Over the past year I have read A-Q and this one has been my favovite. I think it was more of a thriller but that just makes me like it more. I think it was well written, and the ending was good. I am so ready for the next letter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2004

    What's next???

    This book was just great it kept you on the edge. I would really like to read what happens next because we all deserve a little happiness once in a while.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2004

    Losing steam

    R is for Ricochet wasn't as good as I expected. The story seemed too forced at times and I'm not sure I will be getting S.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2004

    R Is for Ricochet

    This series has turned sour with the last few books. This one was stale and boring. I miss the days of A-M. Shape up Sue!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2004

    A Great Read

    This is my first Kinsay Millhone book and I couldn't of been more impressed. I loved the personalities and the writing. A great book and it does deserve the current slot, #1 New York Times bestseller.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2004

    NOT UP TO GRAFTON'S STANDARDS!!!

    I love Sue Grafton's books and look forward to each and every one....Unfortunately this one DID NOT hold up to her usual wit and humor and surprises.....This was predictable after the first few chapters .... nothing exciting happened....very dull and boring. Hope she does better with 'S' !!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2014

    Religion of the world of Xtoski (2)

    Mojkai was a daughter of Zorgagroz. She would apear in dreams as a lion. Her scales wer hot and shined when the sun hit them. Her eyes are yellow-bronze. She would deliver a prophecy to you in your dreams. Her name meant Sand. The world was dark, the land all flat and black, not a mountain nor forest nor desert or frost desert, just plain. Not even a drop of rain or water. You get water from the Aqua-tree (Eioh-vfroesth). She was quick and calm, as well as future-telling abilities. One day she found a giant stone, yellow-cream like her scales and larger than the moon was! She touched it, the second that was done it shatterred into millions of tiny little peices. She spent years trying to put it back together, but finally gave up. With a great roar, she sent the dust flying over the land to cover a large amount of it. The sun shone brightly in these places. She had created all the deserts of our world. Zorgagroz came to Mojkai and told her she had learned her ability. She would be a smart warrior. <br> Vfroesth was a son of Zorgagroz. He had green scales and was strong, fierce, and brave. He apeared in dreams as a tiger. He looked around. The world was mostly black-, except for his sister's creation. He would never do anything like that- or would he? His green scales turned neon green at day and puke green at night. He looked around. It was sunset, and his scales were fading as the moon came up. He attempted to chase the sun and keep his scales beautiful, but to no avail. The land was dark and empty where he landed. There was a peculiar green pebble near him, and he realized he was at the Aqua-tree, the one good thing Xtosk brought to the world. He sipped water from its surface. Deer drank sleepilly and a human sat and sucked up the water. They loked at him and panicked. He sighed and sniffed the strange pebble, before he could stop it, green sparkles came out of his nose! The pebble burst upward into something like the Aqua-tree, but it was brown and green instead of blue. The pebbles scattered everywhere, and more green dust spread from his nose. Green light filled the air as trees and moss and grass and ferns sprouted up everywhere. He created the forests of our land. Hos mother drifted gently and said to him: *you grant life, but not the way i do. You grant plant-life, i grant animal-life, as wel as the humans the ability to rebirth their populations and kings in that silly little war of theirs.* When she finished, she flew away.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    RedWing

    He paded in. "Rasperstar?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    To Rasperstar

    Mde I join? - Featherpelt

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 90 Customer Reviews

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