Sue Grafton In Conversation

Aug 9, 2015

Sue_Grafton_1aOne mystery writer, a local, in conversation with one mystery writer who’s PI lives in a town that “looks” surprisingly like a neighbor up north, Santa Barbara.

Bestselling author Sue Grafton comes to Vroman’s via All Saints Church on August 27, and partakes in conversation with local mystery writer Denise Hamilton.

Sue Grafton is the granddaughter of Presbyterian missionaries on her maternal and paternal side. Both her mother and father were raised in China and were childhood sweethearts, marrying in 1932 and raising Grafton and her sister Ann in Kentucky.

Cornelius Warren Grafton was a practicing attorney in Louisville, but also an author of wonderfully titled books such as The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope and The Rope Began to Hang the Butcher.




Grafton graduated with a BA from University of Louiseville in 1961 and, according to her online biography, worked in the medical field as an admissions clerk and clinic secretary at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and then as a medical secretary to a general practitioner and finally a medical education secretary at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara.

Grafton says she found her passion for writing at the age of eighteen and finished her first novel when she was twenty-two. Keziah Dane was published in 1967 and her second novel, The Lolly Madonna War, was made into a feature film starring Rod Steiger and Jeff Bridges. Both books are no longer in print.

After helping to write the screenplay for The Lolly Madonna War, Grafton continued to work in Hollywood, writing for television shows such as Rhoda and scripting several TV movies.

“With her third husband, Steve Humphrey, she also adapted some Agatha Christie novels for television.” Perhaps it gave her the bug because only a few years later, the world was introduced to Kinsey Millhone, a young, independent, sometimes fumbling and bumbling, hard-headed PI in the small town of Santa Theresa. A Is for Alibi was released in 1982 and in the subsequent 33 years, Grafton has written 24 Kinsey adventures.




Vroman’s is hosting Grafton’s August 27th reading and signing with the release of X (which stands alone, missing the “for” something, e.g. N Is for Noose, R Is for Ricochet). Grafton’s books are quick, light reads—not-too-heady whodunnits with affable returning characters like her octogenarian landlord, Henry Pitts, who rents his renovated garage to Kinsey (even though it’s been blown up several times over the course of the series) and the eccentric Rosie who’s originally from Hungary and runs a local tavern, creating entrees with odd ingredients that Kinsey can’t recognize and yet continues to order. Kinsey’s family history comes to light slowly and in a few books takes the main stage, men come and go periodically, and she’s the type of young woman who doesn’t look in the mirror very often, trims her hair with nail scissors (really?), but runs 3 miles everyday and is rather obsessive about her teeth.




The series is set in the 1980s, so Kinsey must rely on elements other than a cell phone, GPS, Google search, and Siri to answer her questions and follow the clues. It means a lot of driving in whatever run down car she owns at the moment and a lot of going from A to B and C to M to hunt down the killer and neatly wrap up the mystery. After a while, series readers can skim certain parts that require repetition for new readers who have jumped into the middle of the alphabet. These books are something to grab for a beach day or a lazy afternoon on the back deck when one’s brain isn’t interested in working on all cylinders.

And light and fluffy books purely for entertainment—for many of us, there are days that require just, and only, that.




Sue Grafton in Conversation with Denise Hamilton for X
Thursday, August 27th, 7 p.m.
All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena 91101
Cost: $30 + tax; includes one ticket and copy of X
Tickets will not be shipped

Reservations being accepted now
Purchase tickets online here or call 1.626.449.5320
Tickets & books available for pick-up from Vroman’s on Tuesday, Aug. 25th
For complete info, visit










Denise Hamilton is the author of five contemporary crime novels starring Eve Diamond and The Last Embrace, inspired by the disappearance of starlet Jean Spangler in Hollywood, 1949. She’s editor of the short story anthologies Los Angeles Noir and Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics, has reported for the L.A. Times, was a Fulbright Scholar, and has an obsession…about perfume. Denise is a proud and admitted perfumanista.


D.Hamilton 06

Books by Denise Hamilton:
Trials to Measure
Prisoner of Memory: A Novel
Savage Garden
Last Lullaby
Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics
The Last Embrace
Sugar Skull
Los Angeles Noir
The Jasmine Trade
Damage Control






Sue Grafton source info:





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