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#1
Old 12-29-2017, 02:53 PM
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Alphabet ends at Y: RIP Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton, age 77, writer of the Kinsey Milhone series (A Is for Alibi etc.). She was a great person, a role model for women writing mysteries with female protagonists, and a great mentor to a lot of developing writers. I was really sad to hear this even though nobody lives forever. I had hoped she would get to the end of the alphabet, but not quite.
#2
Old 12-29-2017, 05:56 PM
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She also told her family that she did not want any ghost writers finishing the series, nor did she want the books turned into a TV series or a movie. But then she's dead, so I guess her heirs can do what they like.
#3
Old 12-29-2017, 06:14 PM
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Wow, I am really sorry to hear this. Iíve enjoyed her books over the years.
#4
Old 12-29-2017, 06:25 PM
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I was really looking forward to "Z" (for Zero, apparently). She was definitely working her way toward a conclusion for Kinsey.

Totally not fair to quit one novel before the finale. But she gave me a lot of enjoyment with the first 25. RIP.
#5
Old 12-29-2017, 06:28 PM
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5 will get you 10 she at least has a detailed outline of the last novel in her files, and that it will be ghost-written and on bookstore shelves next year. She seems like the type to have the end-game all mapped out and written down.
#6
Old 12-29-2017, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
5 will get you 10 she at least has a detailed outline of the last novel in her files, and that it will be ghost-written and on bookstore shelves next year. She seems like the type to have the end-game all mapped out and written down.
See post #2.
#7
Old 12-29-2017, 06:35 PM
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Lines lifted from my local paper's website: Her daughter, Jamie Clark, posted news of her mother's death on Grafton's web page Friday. Her daughter concluded her posting by saying, "the alphabet now ends at Y."

I too would like an alphabetic conclusion but I guess we'll have to wait and see.
#8
Old 12-29-2017, 06:40 PM
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Only one letter away from finishing?

I remember when these books first appeared in book stores over thirty years ago. I had assumed the series had been completed long ago. I guess Sue got stuck on a few letters along the way.

I read a couple of the books that my mom loaned me. I think she's read the whole series.

RIP

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-29-2017 at 06:41 PM.
#9
Old 12-29-2017, 06:42 PM
Isaiah 1:15 Screw the NRA.
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
See post #2.
I stand by my prediction. It wasn't like she got hit by a bus at age 48. She had the last one outlined, I'm sure. The demand will be high, and the heirs aren't bound by her wishes.

Last edited by silenus; 12-29-2017 at 06:42 PM.
#10
Old 12-29-2017, 06:46 PM
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That's too bad. I haven't read any of the books, but I thought the series progression was cool.

Are the books any good?
#11
Old 12-29-2017, 07:02 PM
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No need to defy her wishes. She didn't want any ghostwriter finishing the series? Then let them put their name on the book.
#12
Old 12-29-2017, 09:27 PM
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A great loss for mystery readers and writers. Condolences to family and friends.

I was really hoping the series would conclude. There were so many interesting characters in those books, and I wonder what happens to them.
Just like when a TV series ends. I want more!
#13
Old 12-29-2017, 09:38 PM
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Ed McBain, the great police procedural author and creator of the 87th Precinct series — including Ax, Bread, Calypso, Doll, Fuzz, et al — always resented her for ripping off his schtick.

Disclaimer: I was his editor for Romance (1995), and Nocturne (1997). He didn’t do them in order.
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#14
Old 12-29-2017, 10:57 PM
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I'm hoping her heirs open her hidden safe and find a note saying "Please ask the best twenty writers in the world to each write a version of 'Z is for Zeitgeist'. Thank you."

Well, if my wishes are being followed in terms of Grafton's safe, then I hope they find a completely finished "Z is for Zaftig" manuscript.
#15
Old 12-29-2017, 11:25 PM
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If there's an afterlife, she's probably still bitching out Death for not giving her another year or two to finish one last book.
#16
Old 12-29-2017, 11:53 PM
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Her last book, "Z is for Zero," was scheduled for release in fall 2019, according to the author's website. But her husband, Steve Humphrey, said Grafton had yet to start writing the novel.

"She was trying to come up with an idea, but she never got one she liked," Humphrey said. "With chemo, she didn't have much energy or interest in that anyway. There will just be a 25-letter alphabet, I'm sorry to say."
https://google.com.au/amp/s/amp..../amp/990806001

Sounds like Y is it.
#17
Old 12-30-2017, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by SpoilerVirgin View Post
I was really looking forward to "Z" (for Zero, apparently). She was definitely working her way toward a conclusion for Kinsey.
Was she planning to kill her off?
#18
Old 12-30-2017, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
Ed McBain, the great police procedural author and creator of the 87th Precinct series ó including Ax, Bread, Calypso, Doll, Fuzz, et al ó always resented her for ripping off his schtick.

Disclaimer: I was his editor for Romance (1995), and Nocturne (1997). He didnít do them in order.
As an 87th Pct. series fan I have to ask: What schtick was that, police procedurals?* It's not like the 87P books have any kind of discernable theme to their titles, letters, numbers, colors or days of the week.

*Having not read Sue Grafton, I have no idea what the Kinsey Milhone series is, beyond the "mystery" genre.
#19
Old 12-30-2017, 08:56 AM
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McBain wrote some 87 Precinct mysteries with one word titles, intending to go through the whole alphabet, with the last one being Exit: Ax, Bread, Calypso, Doll, Fuzz, Ghost, Heat, Ice, Jigsaw, Kiss, Lightning, Mischief, Nocturne, Poison, Romance, Tricks, Vespers and Widows were published.
#20
Old 12-30-2017, 10:37 AM
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And even McBain was following in the footsteps of Lawrence Treat, who was doing alphabet police procedural novels starting in the 1940s. He later used the style for 40 short stories, the last one published just a year before Sue's first Kinsey Millhone novel was published, but well after she started writing.
Quote:
B as in Banshee (1940)
D as in Dead (1941)
H as in Hangman (1942)
O as in Omen (1943)
V as in Victim (1945)
H as in Hunted (1946)
Q as in Quicksand (1947)
T as in Trapped (1947)
F as in Flight (1948)
Grafton must have known about these. Her father was a mystery writer himself during the same period. His first two had titles taken from the first two lines of a nursery rhyme. Why he didn't continue seems to be a ... mystery.
Quote:
The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope (1943)
The Rope Began to Hang the Butcher (1944)
Whatever Sue Grafton's status as a writer, please don't attribute any originality to her titles. It's just marketing.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 12-30-2017 at 10:42 AM.
#21
Old 12-30-2017, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by manson1972 View Post
That's too bad. I haven't read any of the books, but I thought the series progression was cool.

Are the books any good?
The earliest are really good, as time went on I think she got repetitious and long-winded. But the characters are well written, you almost feel like you know them. Kinsey is a private detective, single woman, independent, ex-cop, and while checking out mysteries sometimes gets in over her head. I do love each book has an epilogue of how her case turned out.
#22
Old 12-30-2017, 10:50 AM
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Was she planning to kill her off?
Oh, I wouldn't think so! I was always hoping the last novel would end with Kinsey brought up to date in the 21st century, and was writing about looking back at her last case before she 'retired'. (and why she retired - did Henry die and leave her a fortune? Did Kinsey get wounded by a villain in the course of her work and become disabled? Did she marry, or get involved with her family, or what??? We'll never know, and there will always be a missing volume: 'Z'.)

Kinsey was 'stuck in the 80's' and earlier, in all the books. Because that was when detectives had to go out and pound the streets and do research and so on. What fun would it be reading about a private detective searching during a job staring into a computer all day, as they might well do today??
#23
Old 12-30-2017, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
<snip>

Grafton must have known about these. Her father was a mystery writer himself during the same period. His first two had titles taken from the first two lines of a nursery rhyme. Why he didn't continue seems to be a ... mystery.
<snip>
Ed McBain also wrote the Matthew Hope series, about a Florida private detective:

Goldilocks
Rumpelstiltskin
Beauty and the Beast
Jack and the Beanstalk
Snow White and Rose Red
Cinderella
Puss in Boots
The House that Jack Built
Three Blind Mice
Mary, Mary
There was a Little Girl
Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear
The Last Best Hope
#24
Old 12-30-2017, 01:04 PM
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I always thought Grafton should've had a book called "L Is For Lunch", based on her characters' most popular activity (at least in the novel I read).

Hard to believe readers keep buying ghostwritten mystery fiction after the author croaks.

Just let it go, people.
#25
Old 12-30-2017, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
I always thought Grafton should've had a book called "L Is For Lunch", based on her characters' most popular activity (at least in the novel I read).

Hard to believe readers keep buying ghostwritten mystery fiction after the author croaks.

Just let it go, people.
I'd be pretty pissed if i stuck around for 25 books and there was no conclusion.
#26
Old 12-30-2017, 01:31 PM
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Sue had just published Y Is for Yesterday this year.

She did write almost to the end.

Robert Parker literally died at his desk. Authors are hard core.

Geez, Kindle books are getting outrageous. $15 for a mystery book? There's no printing or distribution costs for a digital book. It's a file that gets downloaded.
https://amazon.com/Y-Yesterday-K.../dp/B01MUBJLNC

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-30-2017 at 01:35 PM.
#27
Old 12-30-2017, 03:24 PM
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Man, that sucks, to fall just one short of the obvious conclusion to such a long-running series.
#28
Old 12-30-2017, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Man, that sucks, to fall just one short of the obvious conclusion to such a long-running series.
That's a reason why Agatha Christie wrote books ending her Poirot and Marple series in the 1940s, at the height of her powers. She died in 1976. Instead of the slow, sad decline to a wretched end that practically every series writer goes through, her fans got peak books to remember her by. She always was a top notch marketer.
#29
Old 12-30-2017, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
That's a reason why Agatha Christie wrote books ending her Poirot and Marple series in the 1940s, at the height of her powers. She died in 1976. Instead of the slow, sad decline to a wretched end that practically every series writer goes through, her fans got peak books to remember her by. She always was a top notch marketer.
Her last few books before "Curtains" and "Sleeping Murder" were pretty said, though.

It's been pointed out that while Poirot died in his, Miss Marple didn't in hers.

As for Grafton, she had said that Kinsey was her if she hadn't turned to writing.

I'm sorry to see her go. I met her at Bouchercon a few years back and had her sign my books. She was a great writer to meet, and generous with her time and enthusiasm.

I hope, now she's gone, that her family relents on selling the rights to her books. I understand why she didn't want to, but that shouldn't apply to what's good for the living, not to mention Grafton's legacy.
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#30
Old 12-30-2017, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
That's a reason why Agatha Christie wrote books ending her Poirot and Marple series in the 1940s, at the height of her powers. She died in 1976. Instead of the slow, sad decline to a wretched end that practically every series writer goes through, her fans got peak books to remember her by. She always was a top notch marketer.
Agatha continued writing. Elephants Can Remember was published in 1972. Nemesis (Miss Marple) was published in 1971.

The series ending books, Curtain and Sleeping Murder were written early and published posthumously.

Curtain reunited Poirot and Hastings.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-30-2017 at 07:48 PM.
#31
Old 12-30-2017, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
Ed McBain also wrote the Matthew Hope series, about a Florida private detective.
Correction: Matthew Hope was a lawyer/detective (a la Perry Mason), not a private detective.

McBain, the supreme police proceduralist, always liked to say “The last time a private eye solved a murder case was never.”

Disclaimer: I was McBain’s editor for the four final Hope novels.
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Last edited by Ukulele Ike; 12-30-2017 at 08:27 PM.
#32
Old 12-30-2017, 08:50 PM
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This thread reminded me that I never finished the Mathew Hope series.

I was getting used paperbacks from a local place. I'll check Amazon and see which books I missed.

I recall they were very good.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-30-2017 at 08:50 PM.
#33
Old 12-30-2017, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
Hard to believe readers keep buying ghostwritten mystery fiction after the author croaks.

Just let it go, people.
Some of it is entertaining and very good. Series continuations that I have enjoyed:

Felix Francis books continuing the horse racing mysteries of his father, Dick Francis (the new books are substantially better than his father's last few).

Jill Paton Walsh books continuing the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries of Dorothy Sayers. The first two books, based on Sayers' notes, are the best, but I am thrilled to have them and very happy that the series was continued.

Ace Atkins books continuing Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels. They are great, and fit right into the Spenser canon.

I know that not every series continuation works out, but I love these three, and still keep track of when the next installments will be available.

I'm torn about Grafton's. If she didn't want them continued, I'd like to see her wishes respected, but OTOH, it was just one more book and then the series would have been completed anyway. And it would be so nice to have a conclusion, instead of leaving the alphabet forever unfinished.
#34
Old 12-31-2017, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
McBain wrote some 87 Precinct mysteries with one word titles, intending to go through the whole alphabet, with the last one being Exit: Ax, Bread, Calypso, Doll, Fuzz, Ghost, Heat, Ice, Jigsaw, Kiss, Lightning, Mischief, Nocturne, Poison, Romance, Tricks, Vespers and Widows were published.
I never noticed that about his one-word titles but looking at the list I see they not only had multi-word titles interleaved between them, they weren't published in order. Reading them piecemeal from the library didn't help, either.
#35
Old 12-31-2017, 12:20 PM
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Dick Francis's books took a steep nosedive after his wife died and there was talk that she had helped with the plotting.

I am sad there won't be any more Kinsey adventures but really, what kind of series wrap up were people envisioning?
#36
Old 12-31-2017, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by toast pakora View Post
I am sad there won't be any more Kinsey adventures but really, what kind of series wrap up were people envisioning?
I can't remember all of the details, but in the last few books, she had begun tying up a number of threads. She had established Kinsey's relationship with her family, and IIRC, indicated that Kinsey was due to receive an inheritance that would have allowed her to substantially improve her lifestyle. She had also started to address Kinsey's romantic live, bringing back a number of previous lovers and setting up the idea that she would eventually pick one of them to be her life partner. I expected the final book to show Kinsey settling down with someone and moving on from her current living and work arrangements to something new and more permanent. Remember that the entire series takes place in a relatively short period of Kinsey's life, only a few years. I saw it as representing a time when she was still unsettled and finding herself, and expected the conclusion to be the end of that phase of her life.
#37
Old 12-31-2017, 01:26 PM
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RIP. I'm sorry that there won't be a Z, but I'm going to sit down with A and read through to Y in her honor.
#38
Old 01-01-2018, 07:16 AM
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Sad news, of course for her family and close friends foremost, and then, secondarily for us selfish fans. I've been a major fan of the Kinsey series for a long time, I even acquired copies of all of her short stories before she collected them in the book "Kinsey and Me."

I totally respect her wishes for no one to write Kinsey after her death, and it could well be that she had no story for "Z" just yet, but I'd be surprised if she didn't at least have in mind the personal-life events for Kinsey, Henry, et al that would have taken place, and I hope the family lets us know where Sue meant for them to end up by the end of the book and series.
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#39
Old 01-01-2018, 07:18 AM
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Clothanump:

Quote:
Remember that the entire series takes place in a relatively short period of Kinsey's life, only a few years.
1982 - 1989. "A" is for Alibi was written in, and clearly meant to take place in, 1980, but starting with "B" is for Burglar, days of the week consistently lined up with a 1982 start date, so the 1980 week-days of "A" can be written off as an understandable anachronism.
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#40
Old 01-01-2018, 08:35 AM
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So, comic book time was not in effect? Even though Y is for Yesterday was published in 2017, the story is definitely set nearly 30 years ago?

Last edited by DesertDog; 01-01-2018 at 08:36 AM.
#41
Old 01-01-2018, 10:03 AM
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Personally, I think that an author's wishes ought to be respected on whether their series continue. If an author tells his family to finish a series, or picks out a successor, that's fine, it's their call. But if, as here, an author says that they don't want anyone else meddling with their creations, well, that's their call, too. Obviously there's no legal obligation for her heirs to respect her wishes, and I don't think there should be, but then, there are a lot of things heirs do out of respect for the dead that aren't legally obligated.
#42
Old 01-01-2018, 07:52 PM
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I have mixed feelings - her wishes, etc. All of her readers got to read the books that were paid for. On the other hand, people who committed to reading the series made her wealthy and would like to see how the story ends. A free-on-the-web outline would be a good compromise.

I have not read them but my wife has.
#43
Old 01-01-2018, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Personally, I think that an author's wishes ought to be respected on whether their series continue. If an author tells his family to finish a series, or picks out a successor, that's fine, it's their call. But if, as here, an author says that they don't want anyone else meddling with their creations, well, that's their call, too. Obviously there's no legal obligation for her heirs to respect her wishes, and I don't think there should be, but then, there are a lot of things heirs do out of respect for the dead that aren't legally obligated.
This is why writers need literary executors, and I'll bet she had one. But it sounds like her family was on board in any case.
#44
Old 01-01-2018, 08:53 PM
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So, comic book time was not in effect? Even though Y is for Yesterday was published in 2017, the story is definitely set nearly 30 years ago?
Yes. It was a major factor in development of the stories. As cmkeller says, the entire series A-Y covers only 7-8 years. Many books literally start within a few days of when the last one ends. Everything is based on 1980's conditions - i.e. no Internet or cell phones. Kinsey is famous for keeping all her case notes on index cards (I saw an online tribute that was an image of a pile of index cards). This is why a wrap-up would have been less about an end to Kinsey or her career, and more about her transitioning out of this period in her life. She is not so much a comic book character as a real person who goes through the normal ups, downs and personal growth of a person in her 30's.
#45
Old 01-01-2018, 09:14 PM
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I hope there is no end offered to the series. And I think the reason Grafton had difficulty writing Z, in addition to the fact that she was ill and undergoing treatment, was that she didn't want it to end either. Leave it alone. Kinsey is still at work, Henry is still baking bread, Rosie is still making incomprehensible, inedible Hungarian dishes.

Peace.
#46
Old 01-02-2018, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
This thread reminded me that I never finished the Mathew Hope series.

I was getting used paperbacks from a local place. I'll check Amazon and see which books I missed.

I recall they were very good.
EVERYTHING Ed McBain and his counterpart Evan Hunter wrote was at least very good.

Downtown, which is one of McBain's few books not part of a series, is absolutely wonderful, highly recommended, and set at Christmas time in NYC.
#47
Old 01-02-2018, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
EVERYTHING Ed McBain and his counterpart Evan Hunter wrote was at least very good.
Well, yes, most everything. He was a great in the field. But his early 87th Precinct books up through the 70s were the best. After then he either caught the disease or was inflicted with it by his publishers of turning his taut 60,000 word thrillers into 120,000 word bulks with the same amount of plot. It happened to almost every genre writer who came out of the 50s-60s paperback scene. Dick Francis. Len Deighton. Donald Westlake. Gavin Lyall. (Some sf writers, too.) Publishers learned that audiences would pay the rapidly rising cost of books if they were fatter, so they appeared to get more for their money. It worked. Their books got onto bestsellers lists, so there was no incentive to do anything else. But quality took a hit.

I'm not sure what happened to the Matthew Hope series. I don't think I ever finished it, and I'm pretty sure (it's been almost three decades) the reason was that they were the same book over and over, unlike the 87th Precinct which I didn't give up on until Fat Ollie became a lead.
#48
Old 01-04-2018, 03:42 PM
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I loved Ed McBain's books. I wonder how much they influenced NYPD Blue. I was on a 'live chat' years ago with Ed McBain and I asked him wtf happened with the Deaf Man in one of his books (the Deaf Man escaped, almost supernaturally.) Mr. McB said, 'Oh, I forgot all about him, don't worry, I'm sure he'll show up again in the future' - and he did.

Ed McBain and Evan Hunter were one and the same, you know.
#49
Old 01-05-2018, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze View Post
Sue Grafton, age 77, writer of the Kinsey Milhone series (A Is for Alibi etc.). She was a great person, a role model for women writing mysteries with female protagonists, and a great mentor to a lot of developing writers. I was really sad to hear this even though nobody lives forever. I had hoped she would get to the end of the alphabet, but not quite.
I love this series. My fantasy was that in "Z" Kinsey would investigate, solve, and avenge Dietz's murder. Because, of course, his name ends in Z.


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#50
Old 01-06-2018, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
EVERYTHING Ed McBain and his counterpart Evan Hunter wrote was at least very good.
Any time I start thinking, "Hey, I'm getting good at this writing stuff," I read a paragraph -- almost any paragraph -- of McBain and it shifts to, "not there yet."

OTOH I'm reminded of a scene in Thirty-something where Michael, the writer, is moaning about how he'll never be the next Hemingway whereupon Elliot, the artist, said, "Are you kiddin' me? Hemingway couldn't be Hemingway -- he died trying."
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