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Y is for Yesterday (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) – by Sue Grafton

Immerse yourself in the gripping world of “Y is for Yesterday,” the latest installment in the thrilling Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. In this dark and haunting mystery, private investigator Kinsey Millhone is faced with her most chilling case yet. Set in the late 1970s and the late 1980s, the story delves into the disturbing aftermath of a sexual assault and the trail of secrets and revenge that unfolds. As Kinsey navigates the twisted path of the investigation, she becomes entangled in a dangerous game with a sociopathic killer. With its gripping plot and compelling characters, “Y is for Yesterday” is a must-read for fans of suspenseful crime fiction.

Y is for Yesterday (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) - by Sue Grafton

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Plot Summary

1979: Sexual Assault and Murder

In 1979, the plot of “Y is for Yesterday” begins with a shocking event – the sexual assault of a fourteen-year-old classmate by four teenage boys from an elite private school. The assault is also filmed, but soon after, the tape goes missing, and the suspected thief, another classmate, is found murdered.

1989: Release of Fritz McCabe

Ten years later, in 1989, one of the perpetrators, Fritz McCabe, is released from prison. However, he remains moody, unrepentant, and angry, and is closely monitored by his parents. The McCabes, alarmed by their son’s behavior, reach out to private investigator Kinsey Millhone for help.

The Missing Tape and Ransom Demand

The McCabes enlist Kinsey’s assistance when they receive a copy of the missing tape along with a ransom demand. Kinsey is drawn into the family’s drama and begins investigating the case. She suspects that the original ringleader of the assault is still at large, and it becomes apparent that someone is determined to keep the past a secret.

Kinsey Millhone’s Involvement

As Kinsey delves deeper into the case, she keeps a close watch on Fritz, suspecting that he may still be involved in criminal activities. However, as she investigates further, it becomes clear that she is not the only one haunted by the events of the past.

The Haunting Past and Sociopath

A vicious sociopath emerges, with a personal grudge against Kinsey Millhone. This individual begins leaving traces and clues for her to find, escalating the tension and danger of the investigation. Kinsey must confront her darkest fears and confront the sociopath determined to harm her.


In the end, Kinsey Millhone unravels the mystery, bringing justice to the survivors of the assault and closure to the victims’ families. The tangled web of secrets and lies is exposed, and the truth behind the haunting past is revealed.

Character Analysis

Kinsey Millhone

Kinsey Millhone is the central character of the story, a private investigator who becomes immersed in the case. She is portrayed as a strong, determined, and intelligent woman who is unafraid to confront her fears and push through difficult circumstances. Kinsey’s analytical mind and sharp instincts are crucial to unraveling the mystery.

Fritz McCabe

Fritz McCabe is one of the perpetrators of the sexual assault and murder. After his release from prison, he is depicted as moody, unrepentant, and angry. Fritz’s troubled nature and unpredictable behavior make him a compelling character to watch throughout the novel.

The Perpetrators

The four teenage boys involved in the sexual assault and murder are depicted as entitled, cruel, and lacking remorse. Their actions set the events of the novel into motion and leave a lasting impact on the lives of those involved.

The McCabes

The McCabes, Fritz’s parents, play a pivotal role in the story. They are concerned about their son’s behavior and seek Kinsey’s help when they receive the missing tape and ransom demand. The dynamics between the McCabes and Fritz, as well as their role in protecting him, provide insight into the complexities of family relationships.

The Sociopath

The sociopath who emerges as a threat to Kinsey adds an additional layer of suspense and danger to the story. This character becomes fixated on Kinsey, leaving clues and messages as part of a game of cat and mouse. The sociopath’s motivations and identity become a central focus of the investigation.

Y is for Yesterday (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) - by Sue Grafton

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Justice and Revenge

One of the central themes in “Y is for Yesterday” is the quest for justice and the desire for revenge. The survivors of the assault and murder seek justice for the crimes committed against them, while others are driven by a desire for revenge against those responsible.

The Effects of Trauma

The novel explores the lasting effects of trauma on both individuals and families. The survivors and their loved ones grapple with the emotional and psychological scars left by the events of the past. The story highlights the resilience and strength of those affected, as well as the long-term impact trauma can have on a person’s life.

Family Dynamics

Family dynamics play a significant role in the narrative. The McCabes’ struggle to protect their son and reconcile their love for him with the reality of his violent actions raises questions about loyalty, responsibility, and the lengths to which a family will go to keep their secrets hidden.

Power and Control

The theme of power and control is prevalent throughout the novel. The perpetrators of the assault and murder exerted power over their victim, while the events that follow reveal the lengths people will go to regain control over their lives and seek justice.

Writing Style

First-Person Narrative

Sue Grafton employs a first-person narrative, allowing readers to experience the story through the eyes of Kinsey Millhone. This writing technique creates an intimate and immersive reading experience, drawing readers into the world of the protagonist as she unravels the mystery.

Pace and Suspense

Grafton masterfully builds suspense throughout the novel, gradually revealing key details and unraveling the web of secrets. The pacing is crafted to keep readers engaged and on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning the pages to discover what happens next.

Attention to Detail

Grafton’s attention to detail adds depth and richness to the narrative. Her descriptions of characters, settings, and events create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, enhancing the overall reading experience.

Y is for Yesterday (A Kinsey Millhone Novel) - by Sue Grafton

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Santa Teresa, California

The novel is set in Santa Teresa, a fictional town in California. The choice of setting adds to the atmosphere of the story, providing a backdrop of idyllic coastal beauty and a stark contrast to the dark events that unfold.

Private School Environment

The private school environment serves as a key setting in the novel. The exclusivity and privilege associated with the private school add layers of complexity to the characters and their motivations. The closed-off world of the elite private school further highlights the power dynamics and consequences of the assault.


The Missing Tape

The missing tape serves as a symbol of the past and the secrets that lie buried. Its absence represents the ongoing mystery and the lengths some will go to keep the truth hidden. Its reappearance and the subsequent ransom demand propel the story forward, driving the characters to confront the haunting past.

Kinsey’s Detective Files

Throughout the novel, Kinsey’s detective files symbolize her dedication to her profession and her commitment to seeking the truth. They serve as a reminder of her past cases and experiences and highlight her meticulous attention to detail.

The Haunting Past

The haunting past is a recurring theme and symbolizes the lingering effects of trauma. The past follows the characters throughout the novel, affecting their present actions and choices. It represents the unresolved pain and the need for closure.

Critical Reception

Positive Reviews

“Y is for Yesterday” has received positive reviews for its gripping plot, well-developed characters, and skillful storytelling. Critics praise Sue Grafton for her ability to maintain suspense and deliver a satisfying conclusion. The book’s exploration of complex themes and its examination of the human psyche have also been commended.

Negative Reviews

While “Y is for Yesterday” has garnered mostly positive reviews, some critics have expressed reservations about the pacing of the novel. They argue that certain sections of the book could have been condensed to maintain a tighter narrative flow. However, these criticisms are overshadowed by the overall positive reception of the novel.

Comparison to Previous Novels

“Y is for Yesterday” is often compared to Sue Grafton’s previous novels in the Alphabet series. Critics note that the book stays true to Grafton’s signature style and continues to captivate readers with its compelling characters and intricate plot. It is considered a worthy addition to the series and a fitting conclusion to Kinsey Millhone’s journey.


Final Novel in the Alphabet Series

“Y is for Yesterday” serves as the twenty-fifth and final installment in Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. The series has been widely praised for its consistent quality and influential impact on the mystery genre. Grafton’s dedication to completing the series before her passing has cemented her legacy as one of the most celebrated mystery authors of her time.

Sue Grafton’s Influence on the Mystery Genre

Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series has had a significant influence on the mystery genre, particularly in the subgenre of women sleuths. Grafton’s portrayal of Kinsey Millhone as a strong, independent female detective paved the way for other authors to create complex, empowered female protagonists in their own works.


Film/TV Adaptation Possibilities

Given the popularity of Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series and the success of other crime dramas on screen, there is potential for “Y is for Yesterday” to be adapted into a film or TV series. The suspenseful plot and intriguing characters would lend themselves well to visual storytelling.

Audiobook Narration

The audiobook version of “Y is for Yesterday” offers an immersive experience for fans of the series. The narration brings the characters to life and enhances the suspenseful nature of the story. Audiobook enthusiasts can enjoy the book in a different format while still experiencing the tension and excitement.


Overall Impression

“Y is for Yesterday” is a suspenseful and engrossing novel that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Sue Grafton’s masterful storytelling, well-developed characters, and attention to detail create a captivating reading experience. The exploration of complex themes and the resolution of the haunting past make this novel a fitting conclusion to the Alphabet series.


Fans of Sue Grafton’s previous works and readers who enjoy mystery and suspense novels will find “Y is for Yesterday” a must-read. With its compelling characters, intricate plot, and exploration of powerful themes, this novel is a satisfying and thrilling conclusion to Kinsey Millhone’s journey.