fiction / mystery

Y Is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton


I’ve been reading this series since I was about 12 so of course, I pre-ordered Y is for Yesterday almost 9 months ago and read it the day it came out. I’ve always enjoyed Kinsey Millhone and her weird peanut butter and pickle sandwiches and affinity for the elderly. Kinsey was in her early 30s when the books started and I’ve slowly inched closer to her in age over the years as the books normally take place mere months after each other. She is still stuck in the ’80s and still slightly older than me, but just a year now rather than being more than twice my age.

That said, I was so disappointed in this book. It flips back and forth between several narrators: Kinsey and a handful of young adults who were involved in a crime in 1979 as high schoolers. Kinsey is hired by a couple who’s son just got out of jail for his involvement in a classmate’s murder. His parents are being blackmailed about a videotape of him and a classmate sexually assaulting a classmate at a party. First, I was surprised Kinsey took the case after seeing the tape. That bothered me. Then she went on to be very sympathetic to the other assailant after visiting him. He had been released from prison from his involvement with the murder. She at one point refers to him as being basically a good kid. After she saw the tape! I know it is supposed to be the 1980s but still, Kinsey herself spends a lot of the book being worried that a man who physically assaulted her in an early book will come back to hurt her again so you’d think she’d be at least a little sympathetic to the victim of the assault who she treats fairly poorly throughout the book.

As the book was also told through the view point of some of the high schoolers (now grown up) the contents of the tape are constantly rehashed. By the victim, by Kinsey, by other people. It was not only repetitive but it was disturbing. It really seemed gratuitous after a point and I say this as someone who has read many a disturbing book.

The subplots of the man who is stalking Kinsey and her old homeless friends staying with Henry, her elderly neighbor were okay. The subplot with her cousin was odd. Kinsey spent a lot of time being jealous of her cousin which was boring. It seemed to me that Sue Grafton might have been trying to fit as many old characters into the story before she ends the series at Z but it really wasn’t necessary. I missed having Kinsey being her old self and the scenes with Henry.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad the series is wrapping up. I’ve read it most of my life (26 years!!) but if this is the route she is taking, I’m done. Of course, I will read Z  (completist!) but I hope she doesn’t start over at One or something.

Also: no one used the term “baby bump” in the 1980s!!

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