Random Review: Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton

This review does not contain spoilers.

Book Name: Kinsey and Me: Stories
Author: Sue Grafton
Publisher(s): A Marian Wood Book/Putnam
Format(s): Hardcover/Trade and mass market paperback/Audiobook/eBook
Genre(s): Short stories/mysteries
Release Date: January 8, 2013

Rating: 5/10

Kinsey and Me: Stories is really two books in one with the first half or so being previously released short stories starring Sue Grafton’s best selling heroine Kinsey Milhone, and the second portion including several autobiographical short stories featuring Kit Blue at the main character. The Milhone stories are for the most part fantastic. The rest? Not so much.

Composing short story mystery is not an easy thing because following the “rules” of writing mysteries you really need to introduce the killer at some point, and in a 20 page story it doesn’t take much to figure everything out. So the key is often not the “who”, but the “why” and “how”. Grafton really handles those very well and does the reveal at the end in such a manner that you’re happy with the story despite figuring out the “who” early on. Because of the publications these stories were originally released in some have a theme where others are just straight short story mystery, and the editor has done a masterful job of making sure they all fit together in a nice mix. The last Milhone story is really a logic problem and not a mystery, but a nice twist at the end makes it a nice fit (this actually a pun, but to tell you why would spoil it).

The second portion of Kinsey and Me: Stories is Grafton writing as if Kit Blue was her, and were composed after Grafton’s mother passed away and are a mostly fictionalized account of the relationship Grafton had with her parents. They are, unfortunately, in my opinion not very good. I get the personal nature of the stories and I’m sure it took a lot emotionally to write them, but I could just never connect with the stories despite reading many of them a couple of times. Grafton would have done much better simply writing the section as a straight autobiography, although I can certainly understand if she was unable to do so.

If you’ve read Grafton’s “Alphabet series” Kinsey and Me: Stories is certainly worth checking out just for the fantastic opening stories, if not you’re better off making another selection.

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