Y Is For Yesterday

Written by Sue Grafton

Review written by John Parker

John Parker is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction for many years.

Y Is For Yesterday
RRP: £18.99
Released: August 24 2017

Grafton’s latest novel begins in 1979 at the Climping Academy, a prestigious private school. In what appears to be a typically mundane case of cheating, student Iris Lehmann manages to get hold of a copy of an important exam, the acquisition of which leads to a most tragic outcome. Shockingly, some time later, there is an incident which involves a sexual assault on Iris. Four teenage boys are involved and film the attack. The videotape goes missing and Sloan Stevens, fellow classmate and suspected thief of the tape is murdered.  During the murder investigation, one boy turns state evidence which leads to the conviction of two of his accomplices, while Austin Brown, the ringleader, escapes without trace.

Ten years later, Kinsey Millhone is hired by the parents of one of the boys, Fritz McCabe, who has just been released from prison. The missing tape has turned up again along with a blackmail threat and Kinsey has to investigate a case which was considered closed but is actually unsolved even though a decade has passed.

The promotional material for this book describes it as the darkest and most disturbing case report from the Kinsey Millhone files and I have to agree. Grafton flits backwards and forwards between 1979 and 1989, adding layers to our understanding of what really happened ten years ago. I found this technique brilliantly done as we more fully understand the motives of each of the main characters who are bound together in what is, undoubtedly, a most unsavoury situation. The conclusion to this case is highly satisfactory and I congratulate the author on her ability to keep me guessing until the end.

And as if that wasn’t enough, our heroine, Kinsey, has been seriously affected by events that concluded the previous book, X. In my review of that novel, last December, I bemoaned the fact that I felt a little short-changed by its dénouement. Well, Grafton more than makes up for that this time round.  Kinsey has to face up to the terrible thing that happened to her last time  as she finds herself in a deadly game of cat and mouse while trying to catch a serial killer. I do not want to say more about this, for fear of spoilers. I would recommend reading X before this book in order to enhance your knowledge and improve your reading experience.

It isn’t all gloom and doom as established characters such as Kinsey’s landlord, Henry Pitts, Cheney Phillips and Jonah Robb all appear again, while Pearl White from W Is For Wasted returns to exasperate Kinsey. To add to that, there are new characters like Pearl’s latest beau Lucky and his dog Killer. Through these characters, Grafton is able to make us laugh in the midst of all the tragedy that permeates this novel. That’s not an easy thing to do but to my delight, she pulls it off 

With all this going on, it is no surprise that the trade paperback edition is close to 500 pages long. This time round, I was more than happy and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I am now looking forward to Z  Is For Zero.  In the meantime, I may have to catch up on all the Millhone novels I’ve missed.            

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