Y Is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone Series #25)

Y Is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone Series #25)

by Sue Grafton

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Overview

Y Is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone Series #25) by Sue Grafton

THE FINAL INSTALLMENT IN SUE GRAFTON'S ALPHABET SERIES 

WINNER OF THE ANTHONY/BILL CRIDER AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL IN A SERIES  

Private investigator Kinsey Millhone confronts her darkest and most disturbing case in this #1 New York Times bestseller from Sue Grafton.

In 1979, four teenage boys from an elite private school sexually assault a fourteen-year-old classmate—and film the attack. Not long after, the tape goes missing and the suspected thief, a fellow classmate, is murdered. In the investigation that follows, one boy turns state’s evidence and two of his peers are convicted. But the ringleader escapes without a trace.
       
Now, it’s 1989 and one of the perpetrators, Fritz McCabe, has been released from prison. Moody, unrepentant, and angry, he is a virtual prisoner of his ever-watchful parents—until a copy of the missing tape arrives with a ransom demand. That’s when the McCabes call Kinsey Millhone for help. As she is drawn into their family drama, she keeps a watchful eye on Fritz. But he’s not the only one being haunted by the past. A vicious sociopath with a grudge against Millhone may be leaving traces of himself for her to find...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399163852
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/22/2017
Series: Kinsey Millhone Series , #25
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 19,392
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton first introduced Kinsey Millhone in the Alphabet Series in 1982. Soon after, both writer and heroine became icons and international bestsellers. Ms. Grafton was a writer who consistently broke the bonds of genre while never writing the same book twice. Named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, her awards and honors included the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award from Britain's Crime Writers' Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bouchercon, three Shamus Awards, and three Anthony Awards—including the first two ever awarded. She passed away in December 2017.

Hometown:

Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky

Date of Birth:

April 24, 1940

Place of Birth:

Louisville, Kentucky

Education:

B.A. in English, University of Louisville, 1961

Read an Excerpt

1

The Theft

January 1979

Iris stood at the counter in the school office, detention slip in hand, anticipating a hand-smack from Mr. Lucas, the vice principal. She’d already seen him twice since her enrollment at Climping Academy the previous fall. The first time, she’d been turned in for cutting PE. The second time, she’d been reported for smoking outside study hall. She’d been advised there was a smoking area set aside specifically for students, which she argued was on the far side of campus and impossible to get to between classes. That fell on deaf ears. This was now early January and she’d been reported for violating the school’s dress code.

She was willing to admit that detention slips were a poor means of establishing her place in a new school. The younger students wore uniforms, but in the upper grades, clothing was at the discretion of the individual student as long as the overall look was considered within bounds. The way Iris read it—no skirts or dresses with hemlines above the knee, no tank tops, no shorts, no T-shirts with slogans, no underwear showing, and no flip-flops or Doc Martens. As far as she was concerned, she was playing by the rules. She’d assumed she could wear anything she pleased, within reason, of course. Climp had a different point of view. In the minds of the school administrators, clothing was meant to show modesty, respect, conservatism, and seriousness of purpose.

Her choice that morning had been an ankle-length claret-colored velvet dress with a ruffled collar, long sleeves, black tights, and high-top red tennis shoes. Her hair was long and thick, a color that fell somewhere between auburn and flame red thanks to a mixture of boxed dyes. Two big silver barrettes held the mass away from her face. On each wrist she wore a wide leather cuff, studded with brass and silver nail heads. As it turned out, all of this was a great big no-no. Well, shit.

The school secretary, Mrs. Malcolm, acknowledged Iris’s presence with a nod, but clearly the woman didn’t intend to interrupt her work over the antics of a problematic ninth grader. She was busy distributing mail to various teachers’ cubbyholes. A student volunteer, Poppy, was stapling together packets of some sort. Iris was a freshman at Climping Academy, the Santa Teresa private school located in Horton Ravine, which was so la-di-da, it totally freaked her out. She was only at Climp because her father had been hired to teach advanced placement math and to coach field hockey. The tuition was twenty thousand dollars a year, which her parents could never have afforded if not for her father’s job, which allowed Climp to waive the cost of enrollment.

The last high school she’d attended was in a “mixed” neighborhood in Detroit, which was to say, drugs, thugs, and vandalism, some of which Iris had generated herself when the mood struck her. She’d been uprooted from Michigan and plunked down on the West Coast despite her protests. California was a bust. She expected surfers, dopers, and free spirits, but it was all the same old shit as far as she could tell. Climping Academy was beyond belief. Enrollment from kindergarten to twelfth grade was three hundred students total, with a pupil-to-teacher ratio of nine to one. Expectations were high and most of the students rose to the occasion. And why would they not? These were all rich kids, whose mommies and daddies gave them the best of everything: trips abroad, unlimited clothing budgets, private tennis and fencing lessons, and weekly visits with a shrink—the latter just in case some boob was gifted with a brand-new VW instead of the BMW he had his heart set on. Big boo-fucking-hoo. Her parents often expressed doubts about her private school attendance, citing the pressure to conform and the dangers of materialism. Her parents fancied themselves Bohemians.

One look at her outfit and her homeroom teacher, Mrs. Rubio, had informed her she’d have to go home and change, and when she told Mrs. Rubio she had no transportation, the woman had suggested she take a bus. Like, huh? Iris didn’t know anything about bus schedules, so what was she supposed to do? Unlike most of the other students, she didn’t live in snooty old Horton Ravine. Moving from Michigan to California had been a shock, the sticker prices for homes being exorbitant. Her parents had purchased a shabby rambling house on the Upper East Side with a mortgage that would keep them enslaved for life. How Bohemian was that? Iris was an only child. Her parents had never wanted children in the first place, a sentiment they were happy to remind her of at the drop of a hat. Her mother, at the age of ­twenty-five, went in to have her tubes tied against medical advice, and ­discovered she was pregnant. Husband and wife had agonized over whether to terminate, and in the end they decided it was acceptable to have one child. Often in Iris’s hearing, they congratulated themselves on their parenting style, which consisted largely of instilling independence in the girl, meaning an ability to entertain herself and demand precious little.

Her mother had a degree in political science and was currently teaching part time at Santa Teresa City College. She also volunteered two afternoons a week at an abortion clinic, where she felt it was incumbent on her to champion reproductive rights, women’s control over their own bodies, and the advisability of women keeping their options open instead of burdening themselves with unwanted offspring.

Meanwhile, having witnessed the sophistication of Horton Ravine, Iris was embarrassed by the way she was forced to live. On the home front, her parents favored clutter and disarray—imagining perhaps that untidiness and intellectual superiority walked hand in hand. Iris couldn’t remember the last time the three of them sat down to a meal. Dishes were left in the sink since neither her mother nor father could be bothered with such things. Dusting and vacuuming were too mundane to address. Laundry went undone. If one of them broke down and actually washed and dried a load, it was left in a pile on the living room sofa to be reclaimed as needed. Iris did her own. Her parents believed it was exploitative of the lower classes to hire household help, so those chores were best left a-begging. They were also committed to the notion of equality between the sexes, which spawned an unspoken competition to see who could force the other to knuckle under and pick up the slack. Iris’s bedroom was the only orderly room in the house and she spent most of her free time there isolated from the chaos.

Mr. Lucas appeared in the doorway to his office indicating that she should come in. He was a good-looking man, low-key, relaxed, and competent. His hair was the color of California beach sand, his face nicely creased. He was tall and trim, given to cashmere vests and dress shirts with the sleeves rolled up. He tossed a file on his desk and took a seat, lacing his fingers above his head. “Mrs. Rubio has lodged an objection to your outfit,” he remarked. “You look like you’re on your way to the Renaissance Faire.”

“Whatever that is,” she said.

“This is the third detention you’ve been cited for since you arrived. I don’t understand this pattern of defiance.”

“Why is it a pattern when I’ve only done two things wrong?”

“Counting today, that makes three. You’re here to learn, not to do battle with school authorities. I’m not sure you appreciate the opportunity you’ve been given.”

“I don’t give a shit about that,” she said. “All my friends are back in Detroit. With all due respect, Mr. Lucas, Climping Academy sucks.”

She saw that Mr. Lucas was prepared to ignore her bad language, probably thinking the issue of trash talk was not what was at stake. “I went back and looked at your records. At your last school, you did good work. Here you’ve set yourself on a collision course. You miss your friends. I get that. I’m also aware California isn’t an easy place to live if you’re accustomed to the Midwest, but you keep on acting out, you’re only hurting yourself. Does that make sense to you?”

“So what’s the deal? Three demerits and I’m out?”

He smiled. “We don’t give up as easily as that. Like it or not, you’re here three more years. We want the time to be pleasant and productive. You think you can handle that?”

“I guess.”

She studied the floor. For some reason, she was stung by his tone, which was kind. His concern seemed genuine, which made it all the worse. She didn’t want to fit in. She didn’t want to adapt. She wanted to go back to Detroit, where she knew she was accepted for who she was. In that moment, Iris realized she had violated her own working strategy in situations like this. The trick was to look abject and give a lengthy explanation for the infraction, which might or might not be true. The point was to fill the air with verbiage, to apologize at least twice, sounding as sincere as possible for someone who didn’t give a rat’s ass. The secret was to put up no resistance whatever, a technique that had worked well for her in the past. Resistance only fueled the lecture, encouraging the adult-types to pontificate.

She murmured, “What about my clothes? I don’t drive, so there’s no way I can go home and change.”

“Now, that I can help you with. Where do you live?”

“Upper East Side.”

“Hang on a minute.”

He got up from his desk and crossed to the door to the school office, which he opened, sticking his head out. “Mrs. Malcolm, can you do me a favor and let me borrow Poppy for half an hour? Iris needs a ride home. Upper East Side. There and back, thirty minutes max.”

“Of course. If it’s all right with her.”

“Sure. Happy to.”

Iris could feel her heart start to bang in her chest. Poppy was one of the most popular girls at Climp, operating at such an elevation that Iris barely had the nerve to speak to her. She was close to panic at the idea of being in a moving vehicle with her for even ten minutes, let alone thirty.

Once in the parking lot, Poppy turned to her with a grin. “Cool threads, kid. I wish I had your nerve.”

The two got into Poppy’s Thunderbird. Once Iris slammed the car door, she reached into her bag and pulled out a vintage Lucky Strike cigarette tin, filled with tightly rolled joints, at which Iris was adept. “Care to partake?”

“Oh, shit yes,” Poppy said.

That had been January and the two had been inseparable since. To Iris’s credit, she was a model of good behavior for the next three months.

Every afternoon, they repaired to Poppy’s house, ostensibly to study, but actually to smoke dope and raid Poppy’s parents’ liquor cabinet. Iris was a genius at concocting mixed drinks, utilizing what was available. Her latest she called a “flame thrower,” which entailed Kahlúa, banana-flavored liqueur, crème de menthe, and rum. Poppy’s parents didn’t drink rum. That bottle was held in reserve should a guest request it. Poppy’s father was a thoracic surgeon, her mother a hospital administrator, which meant long hours for both and a pre­occupation with medical matters, gossip as much as anything else. Poppy’s two older sisters had graduated from college. One was now in medical school and the other was working for a pharmaceutical company. The whole family was high-profile and high-achievement. Poppy was an oopsie baby—a surprise addition to the family, arriving long after Poppy’s mother assumed she’d been liberated from diapers, teething, pediatricians, PTA meetings, and soccer practice. Iris and Poppy had that in common, their alien state. It was as though both had been deposited by spacecraft, leaving the mystified earthlings to raise them as best they could.

Most of the time the two girls were on their own, ordering pizza or any other foodstuff that could be charged to a credit card and delivered to Poppy’s door. At least she could drive and she often delivered Iris to her house at ten at night. Iris’s parents never said a word, probably grateful she had a friend whose company she preferred to theirs.

In April, Iris was dumbfounded when she received yet another summons to the vice principal’s office. What’d she do this time? She hadn’t been called out on anything and she felt put upon and unappreciated. She’d been doing her best to blend in and behave herself.

Even Mrs. Malcolm seemed surprised. “We haven’t seen you for a while. What now?”

“No clue. I’m tooling along minding my own business and I get this note that Mr. Lucas wants to see me. I don’t even know what this is about.”

“News to me as well.”

Iris took a seat on one of the wooden benches provided for the errant and unrepentant. She had her books and her binder in hand so that once she was properly dressed down, she could report to her next class, which in this case was world history. She opened her binder, pretending to check her notes. She was careful to show no interest in the secretary’s disbursement of manila envelopes, but she knew what they contained: the Benchmark California Academic Proficiency Tests. These were administered at the beginning and end of junior year, designed to measure each student’s mastery of math and En­glish. Poppy had been bitching for weeks about having to perform up to grade level or suffer the indignities of remedial catch-up work. Under certain circumstances, the test results would determine whether a junior was even allowed to advance to senior year. Iris wondered if there was a way to get her hands on a copy. Wouldn’t that be a coup? Poppy was her best friend, a diligent student, but not all that bright. Iris could see her limitations, but overlooked her deficits in the ­interest of her status at Climp. Poppy’s boyfriend, Troy Rademaker, was in somewhat the same boat. His grades were excellent, but he didn’t dare risk anything less than top marks. He attended Climp on a scholarship it was essential to protect. In addition, he and Austin Brown were among the nominees for the Albert Climping Memorial Award, given annually to an outstanding freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior based on academic distinction, athletic achievement, and service to the community. Austin Brown was the unofficial but equally undisputed kingpin of the junior class, much admired and equally feared for his scathing pronouncements about his classmates.

Poppy wasn’t conventionally pretty, but she was stylish and well-liked. Schoolwork was her curse. She was one of those borderline cases where year after year, teachers had talked themselves into passing her along without requiring a command of core subjects. This had always worked to Poppy’s advantage, keeping her in lockstep with classmates she’d known since kindergarten. The problem was that grade by grade, she’d been advanced on increasingly shaky grounds, which meant the work only became harder and more opaque. Now Poppy alternated between feelings of frustration and feelings of despair. Iris’s role, as she saw it, was to take Poppy’s mind off her scholastic woes, thus the dope-smoking and junk food.

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Y is for Yesterday 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 130 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It felt like we had a long wait for this book! After reading it, I understood why the last one left us hanging a bit re: Kinsey's near-fatal encounter with serial killer Ned Lowe. This book ties up those loose ends while also presenting a new case based on events that occurred 10 years earlier, in 1979. As the story progresses, it goes back and forth in time between the actual date for Kinsey, September 1989, and 1979. It's smoothly done. It lets us see how events really happened versus what people choose to tell Kinsey happened. The pacing is good, and the tension builds nicely. As usual, the characters feel like real people. The dialogue is crisp and intelligent. In a way, there is less detail about Kinsey's friends/family in this book versus some of her other books, but what is there is significant. I expect it means we'll see some interesting events in "Z". There is one boo boo near the beginning of this book. In Chapter 2, Kinsey supposedly leaves the office at 04:15p.m. She then takes 10 minutes to get home. Once home, she hunts up some old newspaper articles, goes for a jog and cool down, showers, and then reads for 2 hours before going to Rosie's. No problem except she supposedly stops reading about 06:00p.m. Oops. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. Kinsey and Henry and the rest of the gang are a brilliant collection of characters, and I'm looking forward to their next adventure in "Z". It will be sad, too, but I prefer to remember how lucky we are Ms. Grafton gifted us with such a brilliant bounty.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sue Grafton keeps readers enthralled at an even pace. Very hard to put down. Enjoyed reading till the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love her writing style
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finished with tears in my eyes....RIP Sue??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do desperately hope Ms. Grafton remembers there are many numbers available when she runs out of letters... ( 1 if by land, 2 if by sea, etc. ) - I only held back the 5th star because I kept losing track a bit between '79 and '89.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best one yet!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As in all of Ms. Grafton's novels, I felt I was there in Santa Therisa with Kinsey Milhone. Once again, I lived and breathed the adventure right by her side as opposed to simply reading it from pages in a book. She has a way of bringing life to the story by her mastery of the description of small details, intermingling seemingly mundane actions (such as, a play-by-play of her lunch break) with thrills and danger. I enjoyed the way this story switched between the current time of 1989 back to 1979, seamlessly melding the cause and effect of the events. I happily anticipate "Z is for..." but feel sad that it signifies the end. Maybe she could start over at "A" again..?
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
One of the best in the series. Sue Grafton masterfully intertwined two different timeframes into one tale. There are lots of twists and turns which added to the suspense. Our old friends from the other books: Henry, Rosie, etc. are also included which made everything seem comfy and familiar. I was a bit surprised by a number of editing errors such as repeated words, etc. But overall, a good edititng job. I can't wait to read Z is for Zero and will miss Kinsey and her friends when the series finally comes to an end. I have been a Sue Grafton fan since A is for Alibi came out in the 1980's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love her writing style and Take a Barnes $10 Off coupons code from bookscoupons.com
Babette-dYveine 4 months ago
Goodbye, Kinsey -- I will miss you. Rest in peace, Ms. Grafton.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I have read every one of Sue Grafton's books, I am saddened that we will not be able to read anymore new stories.
jillybeans41 5 months ago
For the past 25 years or so, Kinsey Millhouse has been visiting many of us as she works her way through the alphabet. It is sad news to hear this will be Kinsey's last adventure to take us all on, as the author Sue Grafton has passed away with her two year battle with cancer. Ms. Grafton stated upon her death, she didn't want a ghost writer to finish the last book, which she had named many years ago, Z is for Zero. I can understand her decision not to have someone else finish the series up. As many of us have read on going series from author's who have passed away, and a ghost writer continues on with their legacy, many times they miss the connection in which an author and the characters both main and supporting, have developed. This was Ms. Grafton's character from start to finish, as sad as most of us are, we can understand how this is Kinsey's last appearance. However she is not far from gone. There's always a new generation that can be introduced to Kinsey, and the series is still out there for all to read. The story starts out Kinsey gets a new client, her son was just released from prison, and suddenly a tape from his past is sent to him telling him to come up with 25,000 or a copy will be sent to the DA. Kinsey learns Fritz, was involved in the murder of a classmate back in 1979, he served ten years, and it appears someone wants him to return. As Kinsey starts the investigation she learns it all starts with private school where one girl steals a test so that two of her friends will be able to pass it, then another girl is blamed for the anonymous letter the principle receives. When the school rich kid, whose very self-centered, manipulating, spoiled, and all around bully, gets mad at Sloane, who apparently has something Austin wants, doesn't fear him like the other kids do, decides that he he's going to scare her into getting what he wants goes all terrible wrong. He has Fritz use his father's gun and he shoots Sloane. From this point on in the book it bounces from 1979 then back to 1989, as each former classmate tells their version of what happened and what's on the tape. The characters' live seem to be stuck in the past and still mourning Sloan's death and it's affected their day to day lives. Also there is a on going story picking up where X ended and Ned Lowe is still on the loose and Kinsey is dealing with that and still looking over her shoulder. In the mean time, a couple of the homeless friends of Kinsey have taken up residency in Henry's backyard. The other character's who are friends and family of Kinsey are back to stir up the mix as well. The one thing I didn't enjoy about this book was the telling over and over and over what was on the tape. It seemed like this was the filler in between how to get to who the extortionist was and what really happened the night Sloan was killed. The story starts off slow and it seems to stay at that pace. In my rating, I really only wanted to give it a three stars but then I thought about how Ms. Grafton was dealing with her cancer, and her love for Kinsey, and wanting to try and finish the series, and for her determination, I did bump it up to four stars and I realize everything she was dealing with in her everyday life. Since the series is now over, I am sad Kinsey won't be having any more stories to tell. Over the years, it was nice to see how well Kinsey and the other character's that were introduced have develop to where you think of them more as real people and not just
Anonymous 7 months ago
I have always enjoyed reading Sue Grafton. I am saddened that she will not be able to finish the alphabet.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Sue went out with a bang!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved everyone of these books A thru Y! RIP Sue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, she did not disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! So sad that there will be no Z.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this final Sue Grafton book. Kudos on a good whodunit story line. Yes you will be missed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best one yet, will be sad for Z.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked the addition of new characters and the pilot while graphic keep me reading to the last page!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another home run. Thank-you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great read! I enjoyed all the books in the alphabet series and I look forward to the next adventure at the end of each one! I couldn't put the book down and when I got to the end I was very happy to have all the loose ends tied up in Kinsey's final report!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this mystery series. Look forward to "Z," but then in a way I don't, because I don't want them to end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this whole series. I was surprised at the end. I hate to see this series end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WHat a confusing book. So many characters. Too much repeating of the same events. I have read all of her books in this series and this is my least favorite. I was so anxious for this book to come out, but I'm really disappointed in it. I will read the next one though!