Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton: A review

We're coming to the end of Sue Grafton's alphabet mystery series; only Z to go after this one.

I've been reading these books since the start, way back in the early '80s, and it's been an uneven ride as it often is with long-running series, but I've stuck with it because that's what I do and because I have a vast reservoir of affection for Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.

In this one, Grafton again takes us back to the '80s when Kinsey was in her 30s. She gives us a two-pronged mystery. One prong involves the psychopathic serial killer from the last book and the other takes us back ten years to 1979 and a group of the most obnoxious and unlikable teenagers you are ever likely to encounter.

The psychopathic killer from the X book is still on the loose and is a threat to society and to Kinsey who tried to put him away, as well as to two women who were formerly in his life. He's come back to Santa Teresa to try to tie up all those dangling loose ends, one of which is named Kinsey Millhone.

Meanwhile, while worrying over her own safety, Kinsey is hired to look into an extortion scheme. Back in 1979, that unsavory group of teenagers had been involved in some truly awful stuff - bullying, sexual assault, a porn tape of a drugged girl being assaulted by three boys, and finally murder. Two of them had served time in prison for the murder, but they were juveniles when convicted and both are now out in 1989, the second one, Fritz, only recently released. 

It's Fritz's mother who has hired Kinsey, because someone is trying to extort $25,000 from them, threatening to take the porn tape, in which Fritz is prominently featured, to the D.A. He could easily land back in prison once again.

Kinsey goes about her investigation in her usual organized and workmanlike fashion, while also keeping an eye out for the psychopath and trying to negotiate tricky social interactions involving her cousin Anna who is now living in Santa Teresa and two of her former lovers, as well as two street people and a giant dog camping out in her landlord's backyard. It's enough to make the hardiest private investigator tired.

This plot made me a bit tired as well. As the series winds down, it has lost a bit of its oomph. There are few surprises anymore. Moreover, the book seemed unnecessarily long with a lot of repetitious padding. I think it could have been substantially improved by more rigorous editing.

All that being said, I do love Kinsey Millhone and I will follow her in her adventures right up to the end of the alphabet.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



  1. I wonder if Sue Grafton is ever sorry she decided to do the entire alphabet. I have to laugh because it is the kind of thing I often do and then get tired. I have a lot of this series to go but I agree, she made us love Kinsey Millhone.

    1. She's been at it for 35 years. I would guess she'll be happy to seen the end of Z!

  2. I've found out recently that there's lots of fillers in long standing series. Not a good thing for hard core fans, but I'm glad you liked this one anyways. Only one more to go.


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