M is for mystery

Friends of the Lincoln library column
By: Lora Finnegan Special to The News Messenger
-A +A
As a failed murder-mystery novelist, I stand in awe of the talents of one of California’s most successful contemporary writers of detective novels: Sue Taylor Grafton. This is Grafton’s birthday week (she was born April 24, 1940) and I’m celebrating by devouring another of her delectable mysteries (many available in the Lincoln Public Library at Twelve Bridges). You may know her as the author of the “alphabet series” featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Her crime novels are set in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, Calif. (which looks a lot like the author’s current home of Montecito, near Santa Barbara). Grafton comes by her writing chops naturally (she’s the daughter of detective novelist C. W. Grafton) but she has claimed that the strongest influence on her crime novels is author Ross Macdonald. I first got hooked on Grafton’s “A Is for Alibi,” worked my way through “B is for Burglar” and “C is for Corpse” before I had to take a break from all the fictional bloodshed and return to the actual backstabbing in my own life (the atmosphere on the staff of the major lifestyle magazine where I worked was so competitive). Meantime, Grafton has already written her way through “U is for Undertow” and “V is for Vengeance.” I’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on before the final novel in the series, which Grafton has announced will be called “Z is for Zero.” Good thing that so many of the author’s alphabet series books are available for checkout from the Lincoln Public Library at Twelve Bridges (including some on CD or in large print). But you actually have to read Grafton’s mysteries to enjoy her work. According to Wikipedia, Grafton has “refused to sell the film and television rights to her books, as her (earlier) time writing screenplays had “cured” her of the desire to work with Hollywood. Grafton has also threatened to haunt her children if they sell the film rights after she is dead. Now that’s a true bibliophile. And in case you’re wondering why that novel I wrote so many years ago remains unpublished, that’s no mystery. One reason I couldn’t get editors to take the manuscript seriously may have been its title, “Dear Editor, Drop Dead.” On the calendar The Friends is gearing up for our free Saturday Night Movie series, showing four films made from family-friendly books. The titles we’ve chosen will also be available for later check-out in book form or as a DVD. Mark your calendars for May 19, June 16, July 21 and Aug. 18. Showings start at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Entry is free, limited to 100 seats and children must be accompanied by an adult. Popcorn, sodas and bottled water will be available for purchase at modest prices. The programs will be held in the Lincoln Public Library at Twelve Bridges, Willow Room. Also, don't forget our free art show in the Willow Room, opening Saturday. This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. Have a question? Contact the Friends at 434-2404, at or e-mail Lora Finnegan is a Friends of the Lincoln Library member.