On December 28, 2017, New York Times bestselling author, Sue Grafton, passed away following a private battle with cancer. Her family indicated that as far as they are concerned, her beloved series featuring the scrappy, rough-edged yet lovable PI, Kinsey Millhone, ends with her August 2017 release of, “Y is for Yesterday.” Although she always indicated that the finale would be “Z is for Zero,” she never progressed any further than this title for the final book in the series and many fans have expressed their dismay and sadness that they will never know how Grafton pictured the end for Kinsey herself. I, too, count myself among Grafton’s many fans having enjoyed her books ever since “A is for Alibi” came out in 1982 and my grandmother shared her hardcover copy of the book with me.
While we may never know the fate of Grafton’s lead character, there are many authors writing series which honor her legacy, featuring strong, independent female characters, flawed though they may be. So, if you are missing the late author’s work as much as me, here are some other authors in the genre to enjoy.
Kate White is a New York Times bestselling author and the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. She has written seven novels in her “Bailey Weggins Mysteries” series. The latest in the series is “Even If It Kills Her.” This time around, Bailey Is feeling guilty about not staying in touch with a college roommate whose family was murdered. When her ex-roommate resurfaces, enlisting Bailey’s help in finding out what really happened the night her family was killed, Bailey feels compelled to help even after her nosing around puts her life in danger.
Another one of my favorite authors is Allison Brennan. I met her at a Northern California booksellers event where she was easily the nicest, most approachable author in the room. The 13th installment in her Lucy Kincaid series, “Breaking Point,” came out in paperback on January 30. Lucy is an FBI Special Agent and this time around she is helping a friend whose sister is involved in stopping human traffickers at any cost.
Anna Carlisle is a new voice in the mystery genre. Her first novel featuring medical examiner Virginia “Gin” Sullivan was “Dark Road Home,” and is now available in paperback. Gin returns home when her sister’s remains are found. Returning to the small town where her sister disappeared the summer she graduated from high school brings back more than just memories. Gin’s arrival will spark a series of events that will not only uncover who killed her sister, but just what lengths her friends and family will go to in order to keep their secrets buried. The new Gin Sullivan novel, “All the Secret Places” came out in hardcover in September of last year!
Lisa Gardner is another New York Times bestselling author with several series to her credit. Really enjoyed her “FBI Profiler series” featuring the dynamic duo of Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner. The most recent in that series, “Right Behind You” came out in paperback last fall. The newest novel in her “Detective D.D. Warren” series is “Look For Me” and it came out February 6th. This time around D.D. is looking for a teenage girl, the sole survivor of a brutal family murder. Is she on the run, or did she have something to do with the murders?
Fiona Barton first came on the scene with her bestselling novel, “The Widow.” The story is told from four perspectives, the widow, the investigating officer, the child victim’s mother, and the newspaper reporter. The newspaper reporter returns in Barton’s second novel, “The Child,” where she is chasing the story of an infant’s skeleton discovered on a building site. While not technically a series, I remain hopeful that Barton will bring back her intrepid female reporter again in her next novel!
Jane Harper became a New York Times bestselling author with her first novel, “The Dry.” Although this one does not feature a female lead, it should still be in your must read pile if you love a good mystery. Set in Australia and featuring federal agent, Aaron Falk, as he returns to his hometown for the funeral of his best friend. Falk can’t believe that his friend killed himself and his family. And even more disturbing, he wonders if this is somehow related to what happened when they were teens and forced to alibi each other. Aaron Falk returns in Harper’s new novel, “Force of Nature” which just came out in hardcover this month. This time around, Falk and his partner, Carmen Cooper, are investigating the disappearance of a woman hiker on a corporate wilderness getaway. What makes this woman’s disappearance all the more concerning is that she was Falk’s whistle-blower in a federal case being waged against her employer. Is her disappearance related to her job, or something else entirely darker and more sinister?
And if you don’t have time for a series, but want a meaty mystery with a realistically flawed main character and a story ripped straight from the headlines, look no further than Sarah Vaughan’s debut novel, “Anatomy of a Scandal.” It’s a clever, voyeuristic look at a flawed marriage, the abuse of power and privilege, questions regarding consent, and what happens to the victims who don’t speak up. Told in present and past tense, from the perspectives of two women whose lives are intimately tied together by the man who betrayed them both.