Audio: "G" is for Grafton
OMG! We’re almost at the end. Y Is for Yesterday is Sue Grafton’s 25th Alphabet mystery, and it’s just as compelling as A is for Alibi was when it was published 35 years ago. That’s when we first met Kinsey Millhone, the smart, spunky, thoroughly competent, just tough-enough female PI who lives and works in fictional Santa Teresa (think Santa Barbara). In the latest go-round, Grafton braids two plots together. The first goes back and forth in time, from “yesterday,” 1979, when a bunch of out-of-control, posh private school teenagers make a sex tape, murder a classmate and get caught, to now, 1989 in Kinsey time, when the youngest is finally out of juvy and being blackmailed. Kinsey, hired by the kid’s mother, is working on this complex case when a serial killer from her past, determined to add her to his morbid tally of murdered women, shows up and does his damnedest. Judy Kaye, who’s become the very voice of Kinsey, narrates as she has for much of the series, lending extra verve to Grafton’s keen attention to detail.
Ready for another unreliable narrator? Meet Cass Tanner, who was just 15 years old when she and her older sister, Emma, disappeared from their home in affluent Connecticut. Then, three years later, Cass returns—alone, unharmed, with a highly explicit story about where the sisters have been and why they left. As Wendy Walker’s doozy of a psychological thriller, Emma in the Night, read by Therese Plummer and Julia Whelan, begins to unfold, you’ll be caught up in Cass’ tale of a remote island in Maine, Emma’s pregnancy and the couple who took them in. Providing a subtle counterpoint are FBI forensic psychiatrist Abby Winter’s doubts. Abby was on the original case when the sisters went missing and has long wanted to look more deeply into Cass and Emma’s seemingly disturbed, dysfunctional family. An expert on narcissistic personality disorder and the daughter of a difficult mother herself, Abby begins to find holes in Cass’ explanation. She’s sure that Judith Martin, the sisters’ maniacally manipulative, needy mother, is at the heart of their problems. Nothing is as it seems, and you’ll root for Cass and for Abby to see it through.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
In The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story, Edwidge Danticat writes about death and grief and mourning with calm intensity and grace, circling around the pain and loss she experienced while her mother was dying of ovarian cancer. She searches through novels, poems and memoirs by writers from Leo Tolstoy to Albert Camus, Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, Zora Neale Hurston, Christopher Hitchens and many more, looking for a way that “might make all of this easier to grasp even though we cannot change the outcome.” Death has echoed through many of Danticat’s books, and her close, insightful reading of the way others have framed unbearable heartbreak seems to bring her, if not comfort, a kind of solace, a glimmer of understanding—“Each death frames previous deaths in a different light, and even deaths to come.” She reads here, making her mother’s final story intimate, immediate and timeless.
This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.