Friday, December 29, 2017

RIP Sue Grafton

This has really been a SHITTY year.  Now comes word that mystery writer, Sue Grafton has died.  She was 77.  I never met her but loved her Kinsey Millhone alphabet mysteries.  I just finished her last book, "Y is for Yesterday" a few weeks ago and was looking forward to Z.  

Her stories were always ingenious and well-plotted.  Rarely could you out-guess her and once the mystery was solved you always realized that the clues were right there for you all along; you just weren't as clever as Kinsey.   Over the course of the series you also became fond of the other characters in Kinsey's world. 

One thing I really admired about Ms. Grafton was that she refused to option any of her books to movies or television, and she refused to let any other writer ghostwrite her series.   And her family will continue to honor her wishes.  So don't expect to see Margot Robbie as Kinsey Millhone anytime soon. 

Prior to writing her mystery series, Sue Grafton wrote screenplays for TV and movies.  And did you know she also wrote an episode of RHODA? 

I really will miss Sue Grafton.  Especially when I go on vacation. 

17 comments :

ScarletNumber said...

Her daughter has already announced that Z is for Zero will never be written.

Breadbaker said...

As I said to a friend on Facebook, Z is for the Big Sleep. RIP.

Arthur Mee said...

Oh, but "Z is for Zero" *will* be written ... in our heads. We'll each of us end the series the way we want it to end.

Me, I didn't previously understand Grafton's anti-film-and-TV mindset ... but then I saw what they did to Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski. There was a film so wrongheaded it actually seemed to leap off the screen and derail the book series for a few years. Grafton was smart, keeping Kinsey in the 1980s and in the pages of her novels.

Rest in peace, Sue Grafton. And Kinsey? You'll live forever.





James S said...

Yes a terrific writer.

Among others, she also created and wrote the TV series "Nurse" in the early 1980s starring Robert Reed.

cadavra said...

Kinsey was my favorite modern detective. She (and Grafton) paved the way for an entirely new subgenre of mystery fiction. She can never be replaced.

YEKIMI said...

Maybe this will cheer you up: A great online [and OTA] UK oldies station. Loads of familiar hits and hits that were big in England. www.mygoldmusic.co.uk [Don't get me wrong, I love RichBroRadio & Great Big Radio but the more the merrier!]

Kim T. Bené said...

I don't necessarily agree with your anti-adaptation, Ken. The world is full of really awful adaptations of really good novels.... the recent Dirk Gently adaptation of the Douglas Adams books comes to mind. But when the author puts their foot down and insists on creative control as in the case of the Harry Potter series and WB had not choice but to obey or when the writer/director really loves and understands the work as in the case of the Lord of The Rings movies you get great entertainment, the joy of seeing your characters come to life the ability to share them with others who have never read the books and the increase of the popularity of the works themselves. Yes, I know this is rare but it can be done. Perhaps if you had met the author and been allowed to write/produce a movie or a Netflix series or two every year......

Craig Gustafson said...

"I don't necessarily agree with your anti-adaptation, Ken."

It was *her* decision. Why does everything offered up to the public have to become fair game for Other Interpretations when the author adamantly does not want that?

Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe) hated the two Columbia Nero Wolfe movies and thereafter refused permission for any movie adaptations. He allowed a radio series (which he hated) and a TV pilot was filmed with William Shatner as Archie, but that didn't go anywhere. As for other writers continuing an author's characters? Nope: "Let them roll their own."
After his death, his estate allowed Robert Goldsborough to write more novels which I've stopped reading because they just aren't as good as the original, and there were two TV series, a mediocre American one with William Conrad and a really good Canadian one with Maury Chaykin. But that was after his death; Stout figured there was no realistic way or reason for him to prevent it from the grave.

Erle Stanley Gardner produced "Perry Mason" himself and kept a tight grip on it, but the quality of the two or three books per year he still wrote suffered.

The restrictions set by writers upon their own works should be respected. Unless you're David Mamet, who is completely nuts.

Kim T. Bené said...

I think we are saying the same thing. I never said all novels should be turned into video adaptations especially if the authors themselves are against it. I was just pointing out that bad adaptations may be the rule of thumb but they do not have to be a certainty depending on just how involved the creator is with the production and how much loyalty and understanding the writer/producers have.

Buttermilk Sky said...

"Let them roll their own" indeed. One more updated version of Sherlock Holmes and I'll start smashing busts of Napoleon.

Sue Grafton must have given up truckloads of money to protect the integrity of her work. Some writers just cash the check and refuse to see the resulting film. And no wonder -- when the movies got done with Simon Brett's "A Shock To the System" there was nothing left of his book but the title. Why do they bother?

Mike Griswald said...

I agree that there have been more terrible adaptations over the years than good, especially when a long, thickly plotted novel has to be distilled into a 90 minute movie. For me, the more successful adaptations have been some of the British short series for TV -- Le Carré's iTinker, Tailor and Smiley's People with Alec Guiness were excellent. Last I looked, they were both on YouTube.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Michael Learned played the lead role on "Nurse."

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

According to Wikipedia, the TV series "Nurse," which aired on CBS for a year beginning in 1981, was based on a 1979 novel of the same name written by author and journalist Peggy Anderson.

Ms. Anderson died in 2016.

Steve said...

Some years ago, a friend of mine entered a mystery writing contest. The prize included meeting Sue Grafton and having her critique the winning manuscript. She gave my friend such helpful advice that he became a published author himself... Don Bruns. She was always patient and kind to a fledgling writer, fully understanding the frustrations they were dealing with. She will be missed.

Sue Grafton co-wrote the teleplay for the 1983 TV movie "Sparkling Cyanide" - co-starring Harry Morgan. It was an updated-to-the-present-day adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel "Remembered Death." I can't help but wonder if Sue Grafton's disdain for TV and movie deals was kindled by her experience of having to rewrite Agatha Christie.

Kim T. Bené said...

You are right about Brit video adaptations. Let us not forget their magnificent Sherlock Holmes and Peroit series. Both letter perfect.

Kevin S. said...

One of my high school friends and I were talking over the Christmas holiday. He mentioned "Isn't it odd that so many famous people have died in the last three or four years?" Actually it's not because we HAVE more famous people than ever before. Cable TV's multitude of channels, multiplexes showing multi-movies whether or not they have an audience, internet, politicians, etc. Someone is going to become famous for not being famous. Heck we sure have enough people right now that are famous for being famous, the trend will have to switch at some time.

Wayne said...

I didn't know Sue Grafton wrote a Rhoda. Did you know Catch-22 author Joseph Heller wrote a Gilligan's Island?